The Los Angeles Angels opened spring training Wednesday and the No. 1 story in camp -- the No. 1 story all season, really -- is the looming free agency of two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani. Ohtani has repeatedly said winning is his priority and the Angels have not been to the postseason once in his five years with the club. , in fact.
On Thursday, the Angels unsurprisingly named Ohtani their Opening Day starter, and he spoke with reporters to discuss the 2023 season. Ohtani was of course asked about his upcoming free agency. Specifically, he was asked whether he is open to signing an extension with the Angels, a question he more or less ducked.
"As of now, I'm an Angel, and that's what I want to focus on," Ohtani said when asked about a possible extension (via The Athletic). He added he was unaware of any extension talks between the Angels and his representatives.
It must be noted it is in Ohtani's best interests to play coy about an extension. Even if he wants to remain with the Angels, he wouldn't come out and say it, because it would reduce his leverage. Besides, there's nothing wrong with dangling the carrot in front of ownership and the front office. If they believe Ohtani will leave, they might be more aggressive at the trade deadline.
Earlier this week Mike Trout said he intends to lobby Ohtani to sign an extension -- "I'm going to do everything I can, for sure," Trout told The Athletic -- and I would expect nothing less than the full court press from the Angels. Ohtani is not just a great player, he's a global icon with unmatched marquee value. His value to the franchise transcends his on-field production.
Ohtani the hitter
Ohtani the pitcher
Alonso and Cease would surely receive $150 million contracts as free agents right now. More likely $200 million contracts, I'd say. Ohtani is both Alonso and Cease rolled into one. He will be the most fascinating free agent in baseball history and he has a chance to be the sport's first $50 million-a-year player, maybe even $60 million.
, his final season of arbitration eligibility. All told, Ohtani will become a free agent having earned roughly $42.3 million during his six years of team control with the Angels.
Anaheim went 73-89 in 2022, including 49-76 in their final 125 games. They have not been to the postseason since 2014 and they have not won a postseason game since 2009.