Trade rumors have surrounded Los Angeles Angels superstar starting pitcher and designated hitter Shohei Ohtani since last season, but the decision to keep him may be financially driven.
According to ESPN's Alden Gonzalez, it is believed that Ohtani's mere presence on the team generates "somewhere in the low tens of millions of dollars in additional revenue" for the Angels on an annual basis.
Gonzalez noted that the Angels held seven Ohtani-related promotions last season, and five of them were considered major in the form of three bobbleheads, a hat and a snow globe.
On those days, the Angels averaged more than 41,000 fans in attendance, while an average of less than 30,000 fans attended the other 76 home games.
There was a ton of hype surrounding Ohtani as a two-way star when the Angels signed him in 2018, but the 28-year-old has somehow managed to exceed any and all expectations.
Ohtani won the American League Rookie of the Year Award, and after a couple of down years after that stemming primarily to injuries, he reached his full potential in 2021, earning his first All-Star selection and winning the AL MVP Award.
The Japanese phenom hit .257 with 46 home runs and 100 RBI, plus he turned in his best pitching season to that point with a 9-2 record and a 3.18 ERA.
Last season, Ohtani reached ace status, going 15-9 with a 2.33 ERA, which earned him a fourth-place finish in the AL Cy Young Award voting. He also hit .273 with 34 homers and 95 RBI, falling just short of a second successive MVP.
Ohtani would have been named MVP most years, but he had to contend with New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge, who set a new AL record with 62 home runs.
As incredible as Ohtani has been, the Angels have not reached the playoffs during his tenure, which could play a role in him going elsewhere if he decides to leave as a free agent after the 2023 campaign.
Gonzalez estimated that Ohtani could become the first player in MLB history to land a $500 million contract, and as valuable as he is to the Angels, they may not be willing or able to go to those lengths to keep the face of their franchise.