(Reuters) – Shohei Ohtani is expected to earn a Major League Baseball (MLB) record $65 million for the 2023 season including endorsements, according to an annual list published by Forbes magazine, making the Japanese two-way standout the highest paid player in the sport.
The amount includes the one-year, $30 million contract extension that Ohtani, 28, signed with the Los Angeles Angels last October as part of an agreement to avoid arbitration.
New York Mets pitcher Max Scherzer was second on the overall list with $59.3 million. Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, who signed a nine-year, $360 million deal in December to remain in New York, took the third spot ($44.5 million).
Mets pitcher Justin Verlander ($43.3 million) and Ohtani’s Angels team mate Mike Trout ($39.5 million) rounded out the top five.
Ohtani is expected to make at least $35 million from endorsements, according to Forbes, up from $6 million in 2021 and $20 million in 2022. The magazine’s endorsement revenue estimates showed a substantial gap between Ohtani and his peers.
Judge, the American League’s Most Valuable Player, was next on the list, in line to make $4.5 million in endorsements, while three-time AL MVP Trout was third with $4 million.
In total, the 10 highest paid players are expected to collect record earnings of $436 million, up from last year’s $377 million, Forbes said.
Ohtani, often compared to Babe Ruth because of his ability to pitch and hit at an elite level, led Japan to victory in the World Baseball Classic last week. He will be a free agent after the MLB season.
The Angels will take on the Athletics in Oakland when the regular season begins on Thursday.
(Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Bengaluru; editing by Jason Neely)