The 2023 season has produced more of the same for Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani, but as he’s set to become a free agent, his numbers on the field aren’t the only thing that will be under the microscope.
Heading into play on April 26, Ohtani is checking all of the early season boxes for a successful rest of the year. At the plate, he’s posted a .787 on-base plus slugging with five homers, 13 RBI and three stolen bases, while on the mound he carries a 3-0 record with a 0.64 ERA and 38 strikeouts in five starts.
With a Rookie of the Year, MVP, Silver Slugger, Major League Player of the Year, a top-5 Cy Young finish, and two All-Star selections under his belt, Ohtani has filled his trophy case with some very important hardware. But the Angels have been unable to make a push toward the playoffs in his six seasons with the club, and without an extension, the consensus feeling is he’ll leave in free agency after the year.
In an appearance on ‘Get Up’, Jeff Passan of ESPN explained what the Angels and teams around the league will be keeping an eye on at the midway point with Ohtani:
“If the Angels fall out of contention and if it’s just more of the same as it’s been over the last five years that he’s been there, he could be traded and he will definitely leave… Seeing him do everything that he’s been doing for the last three years when he’s been the best player on the planet, shows you why the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Mets are going to be the two teams that are butting heads with the Giants, the Yankees, the Mariners and perhaps others on the periphery to pay the guy $500 million-plus. That’s where the bidding is going to start and it’s only going to get higher than that because this guy is simply better than everyone.”
The Angels will certainly shy away at the idea of trading Ohtani, but if there is no hope for a future contract, it may be the best thing for the team moving forward.
Although Angels owner Arte Moreno would love to keep Ohtani with the Angels, they have several large contracts on the books. Another main wrinkle is Ohtani has verbally stated his desire to play for a contender, and with some early preference being to stay on the West Coast, the Los Angeles Dodgers or Seattle Mariners could be the top destinations for his services.
The Angels will make an effort to sign Ohtani regardless of their finish this season, but no matter their offer, it may not be enough if they can’t present him with a winning club.
Shohei Ohtani enjoyed visiting Yankee Stadium
Ohtani has been fortunate enough to display his unbelievable talents at nearly every ballpark in Major League Baseball, most recently on his trip to Yankee Stadium in their road series against the New York Yankees.
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