Los Angeles Angels two-way superstar and living, breathing baseball miracle Shohei Ohtani is entering his walk year. Ohtani comes into the 2023 season having amassed a WAR of 18.6 over the last two seasons, thanks to his excellence at the plate and on the mound.
Last season, Ohtani followed up his 2022 AL MVP campaign by hitting 34 home runs as the Angels' primary DH and as a pitcher registering a 2.33 ERA with 219 strikeouts in 166 innings. To call Ohtani's two-year run an unexampled and singular achievement in baseball is to indulge in understatement. Add to all of it his status as the biggest baseball star in the world, and his next contract figures to be a historic one.
All of that brings us back to the Angels, Ohtani's current employer. Ohtani has on multiple occasions suggested that he wants to be a part of a winning team above all, and the Angels are quite lacking in that regard across recent history. They've finished below .500 for six straight seasons, haven't made the playoffs since 2014, and haven't won a postseason series (or even a postseason game) since 2014. That run of futility of course fully coincides with the legendary prime of Mike Trout.
As for Ohtani, the Angels have thus far been unwilling to trade him. Signing him to an extension remains a theoretical possibility, but any reading of the tea leaves suggests that Ohtani wants to test the market. So will the Halos reverse course and consider dealing him so as to get something in return before he becomes a free agent? Tom Verducci recently profiled owner Arte Moreno and his decision to back off plans to sell the franchise, and the matter of Ohtani predictably came up in their conversations.