There are tons of questions that come from Arte Moreno’s decision to not sell the Angels, but the biggest one that impacts the immediate present and future of the team is what it means for Shohei Ohtani.
As we all know, Ohtani will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and will command upwards of $500 million on the open market, according to agents and executives around the game of baseball. The Angels will obviously do whatever they can to retain Ohtani next offseason, but it’s unclear what he wants to do.
Earlier this offseason, a report came out that Ohtani was unhappy with another losing season in Anaheim. While that report wasn’t exactly true, it is becoming more and more clear that Ohtani wants to win. He’s been in Anaheim for five years, and the Angels haven’t had a single season end with a winning record. Ohtani has arguably been the best player in baseball over the last two years, and he hasn’t even had a chance to compete for a postseason spot.
Among the prospective buyers of the Halos were Japanese-led ownership groups, that many Angels fans hoped would be able to convince Ohtani to stay long term. However, now that Moreno is opting to remain in charge of the team, he’ll be tasked with working on that long-term extension.
The only “good” news that comes from this is that without a new owner coming in, the Angels are technically able to open extension talks immediately. The only hold-up was the fact that the Angels didn’t know who would be in charge, but now that we know it’s Moreno, if Ohtani was open to talking, the Angels could start as soon as today.
But it doesn’t seem likely that Ohtani starts talking about an extension until he at least sees some success on the field this season — and even that feels unlikely, as he would be foolish to not head to unrestricted free agency. At least eight teams have already been linked to Ohtani as potential landing spots next offseason, and his value will likely be unlike anything we’ve ever seen before — he’ll probably spark the greatest bidding war in MLB (and potentially sports) history.
So in the immediate, it’s hard to know what this means for Ohtani. Moreno obviously was in charge of the Halos when they initially brought Ohtani in as a free agent in 2017, but they haven’t had any success since he’s been there. The Angels have also never exceeded the luxury tax under Moreno, something that you have to do in today’s MLB to win.
The other teams Ohtani has been linked to — the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres and New York Mets, to name a few — have ownership groups that have shown a willingness to do just about anything to win. If Moreno doesn’t show that same willingness, we could be entering the final year of Ohtani’s tenure in Anaheim.