Shohei Ohtani Rumors: Angels Held 'Informal' Contract Talks; Didn't Gain Traction

Adam WellsJune 14, 2022

ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 11: Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels rounds the bases to score on a triple by Jared Walsh #20 in the eighth inning during the game between the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium on Saturday, June 11, 2022 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Katelyn Mulcahy/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The Los Angeles Angels are starting to run out of time with Shohei Ohtani, who will be eligible for free agency after the 2023 season.

Per The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal, the Angels had "informal" talks with Ohtani's agent, Nez Balelo, during spring training, but the discussion "never gained traction."

Rosenthal noted Angels officials "expressed an understanding" that they would have to give Ohtani a deal with the highest average annual salary in Major League Baseball history to get something done but that they were "reluctant" to make a long-term offer.

New York Mets ace Max Scherzer is the highest-paid player in MLB with a $43.3 million yearly salary. No one else has an AAV higher than $36 million (Gerrit Cole of the New York Yankees).

Ohtani's teammate, Mike Trout, has the largest contract in MLB. He signed a 12-year, $426.5 million deal prior to the 2019 season.

Despite having two of the best players of this generation, the Angels have been unable to build a successful roster and haven't made the playoffs since 2014.

After a promising 27-17 start this season, the Angels lost 14 straight games from May 25 to Wednesday. Joe Maddon was fired as manager after the 12th consecutive loss. Third base coach Phil Nevin will serve as the interim manager for the rest of the season.

The Angels signed Ohtani as an international free agent in December 2017. His deal included a $2.3 million signing bonus. He was coming off a stellar five-season run with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in which he made five All-Star teams and was named Pacific League MVP in 2016.

Ohtani became an instant sensation upon arriving in the United States. The Japanese star was named American League Rookie of the Year in 2018 after posting a .925 OPS in 104 games as a hitter and 3.31 ERA in 10 starts as a pitcher.

An elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery after the 2018 season kept Ohtani from pitching in 2019 and limited him to just two games on the mound in 2020.

Ohtani returned full-time last season and had one of the best seasons in MLB history. The 27-year-old hit .257/.372/.592 with 46 homers, 100 RBI and 26 stolen bases in 155 games. He also had a 3.18 ERA and 156 strikeouts in 130.1 innings over 23 starts on the mound.

The Baseball Writers' Association of America voted Ohtani the American League MVP, making him the 19th unanimous MVP in MLB history.