If you’ve been keeping up with MLB action this season, then it shouldn’t come as a shock that LA Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani continues to cement his status as the best baseball player in the world. Don’t look for who is second or third. When compared to the Japanese hitting and pitching phenom, all others are Triple-A.
Coming off what could easily be taken as not only his best month in the pros but probably the best month for any player in MLB history, it almost feels as if Ohtani hasn’t shown his best version. In June alone, his stats are insane.
Batting .394 on 126 at-bats, his OBP stood at .492, he had an OPS of 1.444, a slugging percentage of .952, belted 15 HRs, hit 25 extra-base hits, reached base on 99 occasions, and had 29 RBIs. And I haven’t started to talk about his pitching numbers. Pitching 30⅓ innings, with 37 Ks and a 3.26 ERA, Ohtani could’ve played alone and probably won a few games.
Having a player like Ohtani can automatically turn any team into a MLB World Series contender, except for the Angels apparently, who he hasn’t been able to take to the postseason. With Ohtani ready to hit the free-agency market at the end of the 2023 season, all while continuing to grow the best version of himself, where does that leave LA moving forward?
Is it time for the Angels to start counting their losses and prepare for a future knowing they had the best player in modern baseball and couldn’t offer him a chance at contention? As for Ohtani, what’s next?
How Much Can Shohei Get in Free Agency?
If – or when – Ohtani leaves the Angels, how much money would any team interested in signing him need? In MLB money never seems like a problem when signing top talents. Given the length of contracts, talking in the hundreds of millions shouldn’t come as a shock.
But how do you measure how much a player of the magnitude of Ohtani costs?
We’re talking about a player who could be an AL MVP and Cy Young winner in the same season. He’s also the kind of talent you build a team around and prepare for title contention every season. He is the kind of player you mortgage everything you own to come up with the money to sign, as simple as that.
After turning 29 on July 5, Ohtani could easily continue to play at the highest level for 10 more years. With how his numbers and stats read since joining MLB, Ohtani looks like he could easily continue with said pace. So how much is that worth for interested teams?
Let’s start first with teams that could make a real push. He could actually play in LA and join the Dodgers. They did slash 15% of their payroll before the start of the season by making savvy market moves and committing to short-term deals with some of their biggest players. Imagine a batting lineup with Ohtani, Mookie Betts, Will Smith, and Freddie Freeman. And once Clayton Kershaw decides to call it a career, Shohei could easily become LA’s ace in the team’s rotation.
He could also head East to New York and join the Yankees or Mets. Maybe Ohtani could benefit from a change of scenery, with the Yankees surely becoming the biggest threat besides the Dodgers to snag him. And let’s not count out the San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, and Chicago Cubs. They have bidding power, and maybe something more to offer that other teams don’t.
So we have the teams, now let’s talk money. Whoever Ohtani signs with will be dishing out the largest contract in MLB history. Ohtani currently is making around $70 million between his contract with the Angels, which pays him $30 million, and endorsement deals.
Maybe 70 is the magic number.
Experts have started to predict that seeing Ohtani get offered $700 million for a 10-year deal doesn’t sound farfetched. And it’s easy to see why? The guy is worth that and probably more. This is his year to show off before hitting the market, and if he continues playing the way he has thus far, $700 million could end up coming short.
SHOHEI OHTANI 493 FEET
15 HOMERUNS IN JUNE
GIVE HIM THE MVP NOW
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) July 1, 2023
Are the Angels Too Late for The Ohtani Party?
It’s not just me that’s already willing to give the Angels the title of “biggest losers” in MLB history if they let go of Ohtani. Everybody who has seen the Japanese player hit the field and do his thing, all while knowing how wrongly the team has managed his contract situation, is ready as well.
Sure, when Ohtani first got to LA, the Angels made sure to structure the team around him and however he felt best to perform.
But now, with multiple teams ready to pounce once he hits FA, it seems as if the Angels got booted out of the Ohtani bidding party. From the looks of it, the best the Angels could do is recognize they won’t be able to sign him and have to trade him before the deadline comes around and there’s nothing left for LA to gain.
Angels owner Arte Moreno has never been one to dabble with taking his roster’s payroll over the luxury tax border, even considering Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon’s contracts. To keep Ohtani, it’s a fact he would have to cross that tax border, something that doesn’t seem likely to happen.
The Angels are not between a rock and a hard place right now regarding Ohtani’s situation. They left that stage quite some time ago. Ohtani has the Angels in the worst possible situation and they could be in. LA is looking at two possible routes to disentangle this whole conundrum.
On the one hand, they can shell out a massive contract. Keep in mind when I say massive, I mean Godzilla times 1000 kind of massive. But what does money do when knowing that the only true thing they can offer the player right now is cash because contention isn’t on the agenda from the looks of it? It’s not like they’ll become a MLB playoffs darling from day to night, because, newsflash, they won’t.
Trout, the other megastar is out after having surgery to repair a broken left wrist, all while Rendon, as well as Ohtani had to check out of a game this week because of lesser injuries. It’s clear that this team can’t offer Ohtani a chance at anything relevant, which automatically leads me to the other route.
Maybe It’s Time to Let Him Go
Yes. Sorry Angels fans but the time to let Ohtani walk is here. While the team managed to sign Ohtani initially, beating out a slew of teams, that opportunity will not repeat itself. So, what’s there to keep him from jumping ship? Not much really, just picking which of his suitors he wishes to play for.
The last time MLB teams were able to talk freely to Ohtani about signing for them was in the fall of 2017. It’s been said that when Ohtani initially joined the Angels he sent personalized thank you notes to all other teams who tried to sign him. If that doesn’t show you the kind of person Ohtani is, outside of being an amazing player, then what else do you need?
With Ohtanii, any team that can manage to pony up enough money to sign him will not only get a generational dual-threat talent but also a first-class person. Now do you see why grasping the idea of the Angels not doing any plausible efforts to retain him is so hard to understand?
The Angels are on a high-speed, downhill fall when it comes to retaining their megastar because of money, intensity, and above all, team success. It’s as simple as that, and now the best they can do is brace for the inevitable crash and consequences of life after Shohei.