Shohei Ohtani hints that he could leave Angels in free agency
Shohei Ohtani is under contract with the Los Angeles Angels for two more seasons. But he could end up leaving them if they don’t get their act together.
Ohtani on Sunday started for the Angels against the Seattle Mariners. The game unfortunately was a painful reflection of what things have been like for him since signing with the team.
Ohtani gave up just one run and struck out 10 over seven innings. He exited with the game tied at one. Then the Angels’ bullpen blew it and they lost 5-1.
Oh yeah, Ohtani also had a hit in the game while batting second.
Though Ohtani has played at an MVP level, the rest of the team has not delivered in the same way. Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon, two of the team’s other top hitters, have missed most of the season. Their other pitchers haven’t really performed well either.
That all seemed to lead to his quote after Sunday’s game. Ohtani said that he and the team have not yet had contract extension talks. He was complimentary of the Angels and the team’s fans, but he emphasized his priority is winning.
Shohei Ohtani, who remains under team control through 2023, said there hasn't been any extension talks yet.
"I really like the team, I love the fans and the atmosphere as a team. But more than that, I want to win. That's the biggest thing for me. I'll leave it at that."
— Rhett Bollinger (@RhettBollinger) September 26, 2021
Based on Ohtani’s message, the Angels have two seasons to show vast improvement. If they don’t, they risk losing Ohtani in free agency to a team that has been more of a winner (the Dodgers come to mind).
The Angels have not had a winning record since 2015 and haven’t made the playoffs since 2014. They have spent most of their free agent money on position players rather than pitchers. Guys like Rendon have been injured, while previous hitters like Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Justin Upton have not lived up to their deals.
The Angels seemed to have recognized this issue and addressed it in the draft, albeit in an extreme manner.