The Los Angeles Angels are in a bit of a down period in their recent history. They have only made the playoffs once since 2010, and even then, they were quickly swept out of the ALDS, meaning they haven’t won a playoff game since all the way in 2009. This comes despite the fact that they have one of the most impactful players in the game in Shohei Ohtani on their roster.
Ohtani came over from Japan in 2018 stating that he wanted to play as both a pitcher and hitter, and after a bit of a slow start, especially on the mound, Ohtani emerged to become one of the best hitters, and one of the best pitchers, in the MLB, as one player nonetheless. And yet even with his incredible play, the Angels have remained a lifeless team in the American League West.
It seemed like things were set to change with team owner Arte Moreno contemplating whether or not to sell the franchise, but he has shockingly decided to hold onto the team, and that could have big repercussions for many folks in the organization. But it’s clear Ohtani’s future with the team was already up in the air, and with Moreno sticking around, it’s fair to wonder what that may mean for Ohtani and the Angels.
Will Arte Moreno be able to convince Shohei Ohtani to stay with the Angels?
If you thought that Aaron Judge’s free agency saga was hectic, just wait for the potential saga that could come with Ohtani. Judge is certainly a great player, and after his historic 62 home run campaign, it made a lot of sense to expect him to get a massive deal in free agency. Sure enough, he did, landing a nine-year, $360 million deal to stick around with the New York Yankees.
But with Ohtani, who is in the final year of team control for the Angels, things feel different. Speculation about his future with the Angels has been running wild since all the way back to the most recent trade deadline, and it feels like anything is in play for Ohtani. He could re-sign with Los Angeles, he could hit the open market after the 2023 season, or he could get traded before any of this happens.
It’s not hard to see the allure with Ohtani. He’s a force at the plate (.273 BA, 34 HR, 95 RBI, 11 SB, .875 OPS) while also being one of the best pitchers in the game too (15-9, 2.33 ERA, 219 K, 1.01 WHIP). There isn’t a player who can do what Ohtani does in the MLB right now, and he’s still only 28 years old. He could earn a $500 million deal if he decides to hit free agency next offseason.
But with Moreno returning to his post, the immediate question will be whether or not this has a big impact on Ohtani’s future with the team? Extension negotiations hadn’t really gotten off the ground because of Moreno’s uncertain status, so could that change now that he’s committed to holding onto the franchise? And even then, will it matter?
Ohtani reportedly has shown a desire to win, but it remains to be seen whether the Angels can, you know, actually win baseball games. Even with Moreno staying, Ohtani hasn’t shown much of a desire to negotiate an extension at this point, and in order for that to change, Los Angeles would likely have to win a decent amount of games early on in 2023.
With Moreno staying, that may keep the same status quo in place with the Angels, which isn’t very good. Moreno isn’t afraid to spend money, but he can’t develop any sort of farm system, and that has ensured Los Angeles remains a perennial loser in recent years. He could say things will change to Ohtani, but what has he done over the past decade to prove that point?
If new owners took over, that might have brought about some sweeping changes for the Angels, but that’s not going to happen anymore. Moreno will likely continue to spend big, but the results haven’t been good so far, and there’s not much of a reason to believe that will change in the future.
While the Angels can start extension negotiations with Ohtani now that Moreno is on board, that doesn’t increase the likelihood that he will end up sticking around past the 2023 season. For the most part, things remain where they were, but it’s hard to see Ohtani committing to the Angels if they continue to lose at the rate they have been losing at recently.
If Los Angeles has a good start to the 2023 season, they might be able to keep Ohtani around, but if not, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him test the waters of free agency next offseason, and that would likely see him leaving the Angels. Moreno’s decision may not directly cause that, but it may indirectly play a big role in whether or not Ohtani sticks around past the upcoming campaign.