Los Angeles Angels general manager Perry Minasian met with reporters on Tuesday to discuss a variety of topics, including the decision to not bring back manager Phil Nevin and the impending free agency of Shohei Ohtani.
While Ohtani is widely expected to leave town this winter for greener pastures (in terms of money and competitive aspirations), Minasian revealed that the two enjoyed a one-on-one conversation on Sunday. What, precisely, did Minasian take away from that discussion? Seemingly just how much Ohtani enjoyed playing with his Angels teammates.
"I believe this is a place that he's enjoyed playing and this is a place that he loves, and it's got a group of players, teammates that he enjoyed his time with," Minasian said, according to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. "You get the feeling that this is a place that he really, really appreciates, respects. And we'll just have to see what happens over the course of the offseason."
That's not much -- indeed, it would be more notable if the affable Ohtani disliked his teammates -- but maybe it qualifies as something if you're an Angels fan looking for the faintest reason to believe Ohtani hangs around.
On the other hand, Minasian also conceded that Ohtani was "disappointed" by the Angels' failures to win, let alone make the playoffs, during his tenure.
Ohtani, who will not pitch next season after undergoing elbow surgery to repair the torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, was recently ranked by CBS Sports as the No. 1 prospective free agent in this winter's class. Here's what we wrote:
Welcome to the most anticipated free agency in league history. Ohtani will not pitch next year after undergoing elbow surgery to correct a torn ulnar collateral ligament, yet he's expected to be in someone's lineup as a DH come Opening Day. (He's slated to return to the mound in 2025.) Ohtani is certain to receive a mammoth, record-breaking payday in the interim. Why wouldn't he? He's ranked in the top 10 in both ERA+ and OPS+ since debuting, and along the way has single-handedly shifted the Overton Window on two-way players. It's fair to wonder how his workload will change in the future -- perhaps he someday shifts to a relief role? -- but that's the risk you gladly stomach when you're blessed with the opportunity to sign the kind of anomaly who invokes references to Leon Day, Bullet Rogan, Martín Dihigo, and Babe Ruth. "Destiny is the music of the improbable," Kenneth Patchen once wrote. "Were it otherwise, almost anyone could exist." Make sure you find a way to enjoy Ohtani's tune this winter, even as the noise around him ramps up.
Ohtani posted a 184 OPS+ as a hitter and a 142 ERA+ as a pitcher this season. His overall contributions were worth an estimated 10.1 Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball Reference's calculations.
Free agency will officially open five days after the conclusion of the World Series.