Chris Russo on First Take Photo credit: ESPN

Chris “Mad Dog” Russo has already expressed his anger over Shohei Ohtani’s free agency, which was kept secret until the two-way superstar revealed he would join the Los Angeles Dodgers through a grainy picture of the team’s logo on Instagram.

His rant on First Take — another one for the ages — showed his disdain for how Ohtani’s process, which was allowed to be played out, entirely out of the public eye.

And as you might expect — like most of those in the world of Major League Baseball — Russo isn’t too pleased about the unprecedented deferrals in Ohtani’s contract.

According to The Athletic, Ohtani, who signed a record-breaking 10-year, $700 million deal, agreed to defer all but $2 million of his annual salary until after the completion of his contract. The deferred money — $68 million of his $70 million per year deal — is set to be paid out without interest from 2034-43.

In a clip shared by Funhouse (@BackAftaThis on X), Russo was incredulous when he found out the contract figures, which allowed Ohtani to become a Dodger and allows Los Angeles to still have a chance to pursue top-flight free agents like Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Josh Hader.

“Do you know that Ohtani is going to defer $68 million a year of his $70 million a year deal so that the Dodgers can spend money? So, he’s only going to take $2 million per year — if I read this right — over the course of his 10-year contract. That is completely bogus,” said an enraged Russo during his radio show on Sirius XM on Monday. “That’s circumventing the salary cap is what that is. The whole idea of the luxury tax is to prevent the hoarding of Major League players. This is an absolute disgrace. This is completely unfair to the ethics of the games. Baseball cannot allow this. They have to look into this and change this…This is a joke! Baseball is going to allow this?

“They’re gonna allow the Dodgers to bring in Ohtani and allow them to defer the money, so they don’t sit there and get murdered with the luxury tax, to give them a chance to sign all these players. Why don’t we just give the Dodgers every player? Give them Blake Snell. Give them Yamamoto. Give them Ohtani. Give them everybody so they can win some championships. They haven’t won in 100 years. Why don’t they give him everybody? Is this what baseball wants? Boy, if you’re the owner of the Pirates or the Diamondbacks — more preferably in your own division — you’d be raising hell with the commissioner. You’re going to allow this? You’re going to allow this contract to go down? Where they don’t have to pay a luxury tax. This is why baseball’s gotta have a salary cap. This is why this sport’s a joke. You can’t take this seriously.”

Tell us how you really feel, Mad Dog.

But he is essentially correct, and his outrage reflects the growing frustration among fans and players about the increasing financial disparity in the league. While the unique nature of Ohtani’s record-breaking deal and unprecedented deferrals spark debate about the future of the economic landscape of the league, allowing this to transpire risks turning MLB free agency into a playground for a select few teams, further exacerbating the financial disparity issue.

If Rob Manfred allows this to transpire, we can only wonder if Russo will ask the MLB commissioner to examine his head next.


About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.