Mets’ pursuit of Shohei Ohtani could be derailed by threat of tax rise
By Jon Heyman,
If the coming 110 percent luxury tax for three-time payors in 2024 doesn’t deter Steve Cohen from making a run at superstar Shohei Ohtani, keep this in mind: The tax may only rise further over the contract’s term.
The current 90 percent so-called “Steve Cohen tax” hasn’t deterred Cohen much (though ultimately the tax became a factor after Carlos Correa’s physical issue came up, and Cohen presumably couldn’t match the $33 million annual Twins salary). But one high-ranking exec predicts a “reckoning” in four years when the CBA expires that could make spending even costlier for Cohen.
At 110 percent tax, a potential $50M Ohtani salary would cost him $105M annually. But other owners could press for even higher tax rates. Even at 110 percent, a 10-year, $500M deal would cost Cohen more than $1 billion. (One rival predicted that for this reason, he expects the big new spender, the Padres — whose tax rate isn’t nearly that high — to be high bidder.)
Though one MLB source says it’s too early to say whether owners would try to press for a salary cap (which the union never would go for), word is going around that some owners were upset enough by the increasingly obvious wherewithal gap between Cohen and the have-nots that new measures may be tried to curtail him.
We have never seen such a disparity in wealth, as Cohen is worth double every other owner with the possible exception of the Lerners of the Nationals, who are hoping to get out of the baseball business, and is clearly willing to absorb nine-figure losses annually. Some are concerned it isn’t good for the game, though it’s certainly been great for the Mets. It also shouldn’t go unnoticed that the record $110M tax Cohen pays this year goes to those smaller-revenue teams and may help mollify them.
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