The Los Angeles Angels are in a peculiar spot with their roster and how they are built with several premier players who could carry the team when healthy. Still, with contracts coming up, namely Shohei Ohtani, general manager Perry Minasian faces tough decisions.
L.A. got out to a hot start this season but rapidly approached a cliff, and they not only jumped, they torpedoed off of it. A franchise-record losing streak cost manager Joe Maddon his job, Anthony Rendon lost another season of his seven-year $245 million contract, and a brawl with the Seattle Mariners led to numerous members of their staff earning suspensions.
The Angels are 17 games out of first place in the American League West and sit in fourth place with a 38-46 record.
With the future clearly on the mind of Minasian, the possibility of entertaining the idea of moving their two-way superstar has to be discussed, via Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic:
Shohei Ohtani? The Angels probably wouldn’t dare, knowing they could never get the value they wanted in the middle of a season (contenders are more willing to trade major leaguers during the offseason). But eventually, Moreno and Co. are going to need to confront the reality that Ohtani, eligible for free agency after the 2023 season, might want to play for a better team.
With Mike Trout under contract through his age 38 season in 2030, Rendon through 2026, and not much else on the Angels roster to help prop them up, Ohtani leaving the team could make those signings just for show.
Ohtani won the 2021 MVP and is on track to contend for another run at the award, which will only drive up his price, and his recent on-field performance backs up what will be his eventual contractual asking price.
If Angels owner Arte Moreno and Minasian are serious about the future of the Angels and their ability to compete in a league of growing talent, they’ll have to decide whether or not to ink the only true anomaly in MLB and build from there.
Ohtani prioritizing ‘winning’ in next contract
When the Angels signed Ohtani prior to the 2018 season, they knew they had someone incredibly special to pair up with Trout. But as he heads into his final two years of team control, the club has to worry about how they will retain him.
Ohtani took over the baseball world in 2021 after posting a 9-2 record with 156 strikeouts and a 3.18 ERA in 23 appearances, and as a hitter, he smashed 46 home runs and drove in 100 runs with a .965 on-base plus slugging en route to his first career American League Most Valuable Player Award.
With Trout and Ohtani in the heart of the lineup and at the front of the rotation, the Angels should surely contend for the playoffs every year, but they haven’t. Ohtani hasn’t played in one postseason game, and the team hasn’t been in the playoffs since 2014.
The unfortunate reality for the Angels and employing a superstar with as much competitive fire as Ohtani is that many players want to win.
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