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Shohei Ohtani's 1-year Contract 'Step One' Toward Long-Term Angels Deal, GM Says

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVOctober 6, 2022

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 05: Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels pitches against the Oakland Athletics in the bottom of the first inning at RingCentral Coliseum on October 05, 2022 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Los Angeles Angels general manager Perry Minasian is thinking long-term when it comes to Shohei Ohtani.

The Angels and Ohtani agreed to a one-year, $30 million contract for the 2023 campaign, meaning the two sides will avoid arbitration.

"I think it's step one," Minasian said of the deal, per Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com. "Hopefully there are more steps down the road. I'm never going to talk about negotiations but I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'd love to have him here for a long time."

It was a record-setting contract in more ways than one.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic noted the $30 million deal surpassed Mookie Betts' $27 million as the highest for an arbitration-eligible player and Ohtani's $24.5 million raise represents the largest year-to-year increase in history.

Ohtani is arguably the best player in the majors and is certainly the most uniquely talented, so it's reasonable for him to be paid as such even if it is just a one-year contract.

The 28-year-old won the American League MVP last season by slashing .257/.372/.592 with 46 home runs, 100 RBI and 26 stolen bases. Those numbers alone would have been impressive, but he was also the ace of the Angels pitching staff with a 3.18 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 156 strikeouts in 130.1 innings.

He was even better on the mound this year, finishing with a 2.33 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 219 strikeouts in 166 innings. The power numbers at the plate took a small dip, but he still posted a .273/.356/.519 slash line, 34 home runs and 95 RBI.

In almost any other year, he would be a lock for back-to-back MVP awards, but New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge just missed the Triple Crown and hit an American League-record 62 home runs and seems well on his way to winning the award.

Unfortunately for Los Angeles, it hasn't managed to be competitive even with perhaps the top two players in the game in Ohtani and Mike Trout.

The Angels' last playoff appearance came in 2014, and they finished 73-89 this season. There were even some Ohtani trade rumors prior to the deadline this year, suggesting the struggling franchise could reload its farm system by trading such a gifted player during a losing season.

Yet if Minasian's comments are any indication, it's clear the team is interested in continuing to build around him.

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