Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani is in the midst of yet another MVP-caliber season, and he reportedly is hoping to be paid as such on his next contract.
According to Jon Heyman of the New York Post, Ohtani "will surely seek to become the first $50 million (or more) player as a 2024 free agent, and considering his amazing achievements, he deserves to be the game’s best-paid player, as the sport’s true triple threat (hitting, pitching, marketing)."
Heyman noted that Ohtani's financial aspirations give the Angels a "poor" chance at retaining him on a long-term deal. There had been reports that teams around the league were inquiring about Ohtani's availability prior to the trade deadline, but negotiations didn't get far after Angels owner Arte Moreno "emphatically halted them with a day-plus to go."
By holding onto Ohtani after the trade deadline, Los Angeles likely missed its best chance to land a substantial haul of prospects to restock their farm system. Heyman added that Ohtani's nonchalant approach to the trade rumors also influenced the team to keep him.
"Folks around the Angels believe there was one real hope to do the right thing—which is trade Ohtani now—and that was only if he definitively said he wanted out," Heyman wrote. "But that hope dissipated when he was noncommittal in public comments the day after The Post reported the Angels were going to investigate trading him."
Entering Thursday, Ohtani is batting .256 with 25 home runs and 66 RBI. He also has a 10-7 record on the mound with a 2.68 ERA and 157 strikeouts.
Ohtani is making $5.5 million this season and is eligible for arbitration in 2023 before free agency the following year. The Angels have failed to find success during his tenure on the team, and it's likely that he doesn't want to spend his prime playing for a non-contender. Heyman noted that there's a chance Los Angeles explores trading Ohtani after the 2022 season comes to an end.