It is highly unlikely that the Los Angeles Angels will trade Shohei Ohtani if they remain in playoff contention this summer, general manager Perry Minasian said Tuesday.
Minasian has not unequivocally vowed he will not trade Ohtani, who is set to move to unrestricted free hands after the season. But the GM reiterated his stance on the issue throughout the season, while making it clear that he remains committed to doing whatever it takes to end the Angels’ eight-year playoff drought — and that includes taking the huge risk of their two-pronged one Losing Superstar in Free Agency.
“It’s pretty self-explanatory where we’re at (on the league table),” Minasian said while speaking to reporters ahead of the Angels opening a two-game Freeway Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, who will likely be among the front-runners contenders Ohtani’s free agency services.
The second-place Angels have a 41-34 record, hold one of the AL’s wildcard playoff spots, and are five games behind AL West, leaders Texas, after trailing nine games just two weeks ago. The Halos won three of four games against the Rangers in Arlington last week. With an 11-3 lead, their chances of making the playoffs for the first time in Ohtani’s career have increased.
Ohtani, who turns 29 next month, is laying the foundation for the Angels’ current success in an increasingly spectacular season in which he’s leading the major leagues in home runs, RBIs, slugging percentage — and opponent batting averages.
Ohtani hits .295 with a 1.002 OPS, 24 homers and 58 RBIs. On the mound, the 2021 AL MVP and 2022 runner-up stands at 6-2 with a 3.29 ERA, and his 105 strikeouts are the sixth most in the majors while his opponents’ .178 average is the best grade in the majors is.
After contributing an extra base hit in every game in the Halos’ 5-2 road trip last week, Ohtani was named AL Player of the Week for the fifth time in his career. He hit 10 of 23 (.435) with six home runs, 12 RBIs, 10 walks and an OPS of 1.893. He also pitched six innings with two-run ball to beat Texas in his only hill start.
It’s all but certain that Ohtani will start his third straight All-Star Game next month. With almost 1.4 million votes more than his closest competitor, he is currently the leading voter for the AL.
Ohtani is making $30 million this season, his senior year as Angels team boss. He has played at Anaheim for six seasons since deciding to join the club from Japan in late 2017, but the Angels have yet to make it into the postseason or even have a track record during his tenure alongside Mike Trout .
The MLB trade deadline is August 1st. If the Angels don’t switch Ohtani, they could only get a compensatory draft pick if he signs as a free agent with another team.
Ohtani will be coveted by every team in the majors this winter, and aggressive clubs like the Dodgers, Mets, Giants and Padres are expected to compete for his services with the relatively well-funded Angels if he’s given a free hand. Ohtani’s agent Naz Balelo hinted in February that Ohtani was likely going free agency to decide his future rather than signing a contract extension in 2023.
Reporting by The Associated Press.
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