Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani just finished the first year of a two-year contract. After that, he has one more season of arbitration, meaning he can become a free agent after the 2023 season at the earliest.
However, conversations surrounding his free agency are already beginning after one of MLB’s greatest individual seasons of all time. In a week where Joe Maddon, Perry Minasian, and Mike Trout all made it clear that the Angels had money to spend this offseason and are not shy about doing so, Ohtani also made his intentions clear.
Ohtani said that he absolutely has enjoyed his time as an Angel thus far, but has bigger priorities than simply liking his team for his next contact, according to Bill Shaikin of The L.A. Times:
“I really like the team. I love the fans. I love the atmosphere of the team,” Ohtani said via an interpreter. “But, more than that, I want to win. That’s the biggest thing for me. I’ll leave it at that.”
“It’s very frustrating, very disappointing,” Ohtani said. “I always look forward to being in the playoff race at the end.”
Of course, all players want to win. However, this message from Ohtani to the Angels is even stronger than just that. Here, he’s essentially saying that the Angels have two years to build a contending roster or he’ll leave in free agency.
It’s a completely reasonable request to make. Given the unfathomable success he had in 2021, he is most likely going to be able to command a ton of money when he is a free agent. He also will be sought after by every team, as there is no team in baseball that wouldn’t benefit from having an elite hitter and pitcher.
So, if the money is equal or even similar, then winning is the priority. The Angels cannot afford to take this lightly, as Ohtani absolutely should be a part of the future plans for the franchise. Going into the next few years, the team is centered around Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, David Fletcher, Jared Walsh, and Ohtani.
If they can follow through on their word and add some pitching this offseason, then they absolutely can be in a position to make the playoffs and satisfy the winning needs of their stars before it’s too late.
Ohtani dominates on mound in final home start
If the AL MVP case for Ohtani wasn’t strong enough before Sunday afternoon, it should be now. The Angels wound up losing to the Seattle Mariners 5-1, but Ohtani was dominant yet again, as he has been all season when at home.
He pitched 7.0 innings — throwing 112 pitches — and gave up one run on five hits and no walks. He also struck out 10 batters to bring his season total for K’s over 150.