Questions About His Future Hover Around Los Angeles Angels’ All Star Shohei Ohtani

Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) walks in the dugout during the first inning … [+] of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers in Anaheim, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

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Entering the final year of his contract with the Los Angeles Angels, Superstar Shohei Ohtani’s future career is a fascinating topic this offseason.

At the age of 28, the left-handed hitting, right-handed throwing Ohtani is still in his prime. His age and remarkable success place Ohtani in a wonderful career path moving forward.

After five years pitching and hitting for the Nippon Ham Fighters in the Japan Pacific League, Ohtani has completed five years of marvelous achievements stateside for the Los Angeles Angels.

In his final season under contract with the Angels, Ohtani will be paid $30M. If the team doesn’t extend him, he can become a free agent after the 2023 season.

Angels owner Arte Moreno, 75, purchased the Angels from The Walt DisneyDIS Company in 2003 for a reported $185.5M. The Forbes 2022 “Business of Baseball” project valued the Angels franchise at $2.2B, a 9%, 1-year value change.

Spectrum News1 reports Moreno’s real estate land development company, SRB Management, had planned to buy 150-acres at Angels Stadium and surrounding parking lots for $320M.

The City of Anaheim and Moreno have agreed to “nix” the tentative deal.

The Angels lease at Anaheim Stadium runs through 2029, with three, three-year extensions through 2038. The stadium is said to need between $150M to $200M in infrastructure improvements, including plumbing and concrete work.

Given the status of the land deal that never happened, and the existing condition of the stadium, ESPN reported that Moreno has retained Galatioto Sports Partners as a financial adviser, as the Moreno family looks to sell the team. The same group handled the sale from Disney to Moreno.

Potential new owners will be purchasing a baseball franchise in the highly coveted Los Angeles market. But they will also inherit questions beyond stadium infrastructure needs. New owners will face player contract decisions, including the pending conclusion of Ohtani’s contract with the Angels.

Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani pitches against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning of a … [+] baseball game in Oakland, Calif., Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vasquez)

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Trade Or Extend Shhei Ohtani?

Moreno has to decide what to do with Ohtani? What impact will having Ohtani extended beyond this year have on a potential new owner? What impact will Ohtani playing for a different team have on a potential new owner?

The Washington Nationals, also for sale, faced the same type decision when they traded star outfielder Juan Soto to the San Diego Padres with two-plus years remaining on his contract.

Frankly, to this scout, Ohtani is a far more consecutive player than Soto. Not to diminish Soto’s skills, but a player with Ohtani’s hitting and pitching skills are incredibly unique. There isn’t another player in the game with his amazing, two-way impact.

Can the Angels afford to lose him?

On November 7, Angels general manager Perry Minasian told reporters that Ohtani will open the 2023 season in Anaheim. He said the team is not giving consideration to trading Ohtani.

For now? For the entire season? What happens at the trade deadline? What impact will a potential new owner have on Ohtani’s future with the Angels? Those questions matter.

Clearly, things change in baseball. What happens if Minasian is overwhelmed by an offer for Ohtani that can solve a number of team needs?

Soto and first baseman Josh Bell, who is in the final year of his contract, were traded to the Padres for six players. If Soto and Bell could fetch that, what might a club be willing to offer in trade for an iconic superstar like Ohtani?

While Minasian indicated Ohtani would be playing in Anaheim, he didn’t mention extending Ohtani beyond 2023. Does Ohtani want to stay in Anaheim, or does he want to test the free agent market when he becomes available after the coming season?

New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge runs the bases after hitting a home run in the third inning of Game 3 … [+] of a baseball AL Division Series against the Cleveland Guardians, , Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Dermer)

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The Aaron Judge Factor:

Ohtani’s future contract may be dictated by the average annual value of the next contract signed by outfielder Aaron Judge.

Judge is coming off a season when he hit 62 home runs, scored 133 runs, and drove in 131 runs for the New York Yankees.

Judge enters free agency at the age of 30. There is risk involved in signing Judge to a long-term contract. But the reward could be substantial for team wanting to add his power and five-tool impact to their roster.

Ohtani has the ability to win games both on the mound and at the plate, factors no other player brings to Major League Baseball.

A two-time All Star, Ohtani was the American League Most Valuable Player in 2021. He also won a coveted Silver Slugger Award.

This year, Ohtani hit .273 with 34 home runs and 95 RBIs in 666 plate appearances.

Ohtani also pitched to a 15-9 record with a remarkable 2.33 ERA and 1.01 WHIP. Ohtani struck out an average of 11.9 hitters per nine innings.

Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout speaks during a news conference before a baseball game against the … [+] Philadelphia Phillies, Friday, June 3, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Payroll Issues As They Relate To Ohtani:

As noted by Fangraphs.com, the estimated 2023 payroll for the Angels is $161M. That is a reduction from the estimated final 2022 payroll of $180M.

Mike Trout signed a 12-year, $426.5M contract in 2019. He is the highest paid Angels player. The average annual value of his contract is $35,541,667.

Anthony Rendon signed a 7-year, $245M contract in 2020. The average annual value of Rendon’s contract is $35M.

Next year, Ohtani will be paid $30M, but what will his value be going forward? If Ohtani is not extended by the Angels and hits the open market, will he become the highest paid player in baseball? Of course, we have yet to see what Aaron Judge will fetch this year as a free agent. And Ohtani is younger than Judge.

In addition to Judge, some very prominent players are now available on the free agent market.

They include:

Jacob deGrom-RHP

Trea Turner SS

Anthony Rizzo-1B

Carlos Rodon-LHP

Justin Verlander-RHP

Carlos Correa SS

Xander Bogaerts-SS

Dansby Swanson SS

Chris Bassitt-RHP

If it ever comes to pass, Ohtani’s market may eclipse all of those noted above. Perhaps even the aforementioned judge.

Conclusions:

Masterful, All Star pitcher/designated hitter/outfielder Shohei Ohtani is in the last year of his contract with the Los Angeles Angels.

The Angels are an important franchise in the huge California market. They are on the market to be sold by the Moreno family, team owners since 2003.

The presence, or lack thereof of having Ohtani on the roster could have an impact on the price Moreno can fetch for his franchise.

Angels general manager Perry Minasian has indicated Ohtani will open the season with the Angels. Minasian told reporters, “He’s such a special player, we’re not moving him. Ohtani is not getting moved,” Minasian said.

But questions about Ohtani remain. Will the Angels offer him an extension beyond his $30M contract that expires at the end of the 2023 season?

If the Angels get a compelling offer, will they trade Ohtani to meet other team needs?

Does the value of the Angels franchise increase or decrease with or without Ohtani on the roster? Does that matter to a new owner?

Answers will unfold in time.

For now, the contract and roster status, and the future of Los Angeles Angels All Star Shohei Ohtani are fascinating hot stove topics.

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