Saturday, July 13, 2024

Perry Minasian promises Shohei Ohtani will be with Angels next season

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LAS VEGAS — On the first day of MLB’s annual GM Meetings, Perry Minasian dumped a bucket of cold water on what might have been baseball’s biggest offseason story.

The Angels general manager told reporters unequivocally on Monday that they are not trading Shohei Ohtani this offseason.

“Ohtani is not getting moved,” Minasian said. “He’s going to be here. He’ll be with us to start the season. I know there’s been rumors and all types of things, but he will be here. He’ll be part of the club. I said this before and I’ll say it again: We love the player. I think our goal is for him to be here for a long time.”

Ohtani, who was named one of the three finalists for the American League MVP on Monday, is set to be a free agent after the 2023 season. He’ll make $30 million, the highest salary ever for a player who has not been eligible for free agency. Complicating matters, the Angels are currently for sale, so there could be reluctance on both sides to commit to a long-term deal beyond 2023. Minasian added that he couldn’t “rule out” an Ohtani extension.

Minasian, who said he doesn’t know how things stand with Arte Moreno’s sale of the club, conceded that the decision to keep Ohtani for this season is not only his.

“I make recommendations,” Minasian said. “At the end of the day, it’s an ownership call, right? But I make the recommendations and I think everybody’s on the same page.”

Obviously, it leaves open the possibility that the Angels could trade Ohtani during the 2023 season. Minasian said for now he’s simply focused on building the Angels into a winning team, and that involves keeping Ohtani.

“We don’t feel like we’re that far away,” Minasian said. “We don’t, and that’s the biggest reason (to keep Ohtani).”

Minasian pointed out repeatedly that the Angels’ pitching staff finished ninth in the majors in ERA. They have a solid middle-of-the-lineup with Ohtani, Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon, provided all are healthy. He conceded that the Angels need to improve their depth in pitching and the lineup to make the jump from winning 73 games to being a playoff team, but it’s a jump he feels is makable.

And not a jump he wants to attempt without Ohtani.

“There’s a lot of different ways you could go,” Minasian said. “It’s always appealing to acquire young controllable talent. It’s appealing in the sense that obviously it helps fill out a roster, but one, you have to find the right players. They have to be certain types of players and they have to fit. Two, they have to actually perform. It’s very difficult to trade the best player in the trade and anybody we trade him for, he’s going to be the best player in the trade.”

Ohtani is coming off a second straight historic season in which he was the most successful two-way player the sport has seen since Babe Ruth.

On Monday, he was named one of the top three in voting for the MVP award, along with New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge and Houston Astros designated hitter Yordan Alvarez. Judge is the favorite for the award after setting the AL record with 62 home runs, to go with an OPS of 1.111. The winner will be announced on Nov. 17 (MLB Network, 3 p.m. PT).

Ohtani, 28, hit 34 homers with an .875 OPS. On the mound, he was 15-9 with a 2.33 ERA in 166 innings.

Ohtani did not make the top three for the AL Cy Young Award. The three finalists are the Houston Astros’ Justin Verlander, Dylan Cease of the Chicago White Sox and the Toronto Blue Jays’ Alek Manoah. The winner will be announced on Nov. 16 (MLB Network, 3 p.m. PT).

After the season, Ohtani returned to Japan and told reporters that he had a “negative impression” of the year, which prompted many to suggest that Ohtani wanted to leave the team. Minasian said he simply read those comments to mean that Ohtani wasn’t happy with the way the season went.

“I didn’t think it was that big of a deal,” Minasian said. “I’d be disappointed if he said ‘Hey, it was a great year.’ It wasn’t surprising at all. The guy is a winner, in everything he does. So for him to be disappointed that we didn’t win, that’s the expectation with him. That’s who he is.”

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