The Los Angeles Angels have a ton riding on the 2023 season focused on their ability to compete in a stacked American League West, proving they can live up to their potential and doing everything they can to retain Shohei Ohtani.
Efforts to extend Ohtani have been unsuccessful up to this point, and now that a change in ownership for the foreseeable future is out of the question, hopes for a new chapter were quickly extinguished. However, Angels owner Arte Moreno gave the green light to add to their top-10 payroll with off-season additions.
Trading for Hunter Renfroe and Gio Urshela while signing Brando Drury, Carlos Estevez, Matt Moore and Tyler Anderson were among the moves that bolstered their roster from a pure talent standpoint. But the golden prize is Ohtani, and the elephant in the clubhouse is his contract status.
Ohtani and the Angels agreed to a one-year $30-million deal in his final year of arbitration, and some have speculated he could fetch a record contract on the open market.
Every team in Major League Baseball should be in the running for his services, which makes some around MLB believe the Angels don’t have much of a shot, via Jon Heyman of The New York Post:
Though Moreno retains hope here, outsiders are giving the Angels little chance to lock up Ohtani before he becomes a free agent after the season — one rival estimated the Angels have a “5 percent chance” to lock up Ohtani long term, and another called a deal before free agency flat out “impossible.” But though it’s very difficult to strike a deal with a superstar within a year of free agency, especially since this one is sure to be a record contract, Moreno suggests he has hopes they can get it done.
“I’d like to say we have as good a chance as anybody,” Moreno said.
The Angels have several superstar-paid players on their roster, and given Moreno’s affinity to sign mega-deals with top players, Ohtani shouldn’t be left out of that mix:
Moreno said he didn’t want to get into where the Angels stood in possible negotiations but noted he’s seen the record-breaking estimates in the press, which have topped the record $426.5M deal Trout signed with Moreno four years ago — which included two years that were already under contract. Most of the estimates have been for around $500 million, but some have been even higher.
“Economically we’re usually in the top 10, so it’s not out of the question,” Moreno said, hopefully.
There should be no ceiling that should stop the Angels from keeping Ohtani with the club, and since he’s a member of the team for this upcoming season, they hold the best bargaining chip in his sweepstakes, exclusivity.
Still, signing him will be a challenge, and arguably the most important one the Angels need to overcome in their recent history.
Shohei Ohtani will pitch ‘as much as possible’ in 2023
After winning the 2021 American League Most Valuable Player award, he finished this past season with a 2.33 ERA across 166 innings.
Ohtani wrapped up the 2022 season with a 15-9 record and a FIP of 2.40 in 28 starts, earning him the fourth spot in AL Cy Young voting. He took a step forward on the mound, something that has been a work in progress after Tommy John surgery just a few years ago.
Although it will depend on how their rotation shapes out, manager Phil Nevin thinks the club could alter their plans to get him on the mound more often.
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