Ohtani: “No (Extension) Talks Yet” With Angels

Shohei Ohtani is coming off an MVP-winning season, the kind of showing Angels fans dreamed of when he chose to sign in Anaheim during his highly-publicized posting process over the 2017-18 offseason. It’s widely expected the Angels will try to work out a long-term deal with the two-way star, but those discussions didn’t get underway prior to the lockout.

Ohtani tells Sam Blum of the Athletic (via an interpreter) the team and his representatives at CAA Baseball have had “no talks yet” regarding an extension. Last October, the 27-year-old expressed openness to a long-term deal. He didn’t go into detail regarding the chances of eventually signing an extension when speaking with Blum, instead noting that he’s “in the second year of my two-year deal coming up this season” and “just trying to complete that last year of the two-year contract.

As Ohtani noted, he signed a two-year contract last February that guaranteed him a total of $8.5MM to avoid arbitration through 2022. He’ll make $5.5MM this year and is scheduled to go through arbitration a final time before reaching free agency two seasons from now. Ohtani would be entering his age-29 season during his trip to the open market. That’s relatively young for a free agent, setting him up for a megadeal if he stays healthy and continues to perform at an elite level.

The parameters of a potential Ohtani extension are essentially impossible to predict. There are, of course, no contractual precedents for players with his skillset. Ohtani’s coming off a .257/.372/.592 showing with 46 home runs and 26 stolen bases. That overall offensive output checked in 52 percentage points above the league average by measure of wRC+, the fifth-highest mark among 135 batters with 500 or more plate appearances. While he didn’t perform particularly well in the abbreviated 2020 season, Ohtani has a wRC+ of 120 or better in his other three big league campaigns.

In addition to that middle-of-the-order offense, Ohtani has flashed at least middle-of-the-rotation upside. He’s worked 183 2/3 innings across 35 MLB starts, posting a 3.53 ERA/3.75 SIERA with a very strong 29.2% strikeout rate, albeit with an elevated 9.7% walk percentage. The majority of those frames came last season, when he put up a 3.18 ERA in 23 starts. He averaged north of 95 MPH on his fastball, backed up by an elite swing-and-miss secondary offering in his high-80s split.

Given Ohtani’s unique ability to produce at a high-end level on both sides of the ball, it stands to reason the Angels would love to keep him in the fold beyond the next couple seasons. The team does already have a pair of long-term investments in star position players on the books. Mike Trout is slated to make a bit north of $37MM annually through 2030, while Anthony Rendon will earn over $38MM per season from 2024 through 2026 under the terms of his backloaded deal. The Angels also owe Raisel Iglesias $16MM in both 2024 and 2025, while David Fletcher will make at least $14MM combined between 2024 and 2025.

Between those commitments, the Angels already have around $100MM guaranteed in the first two seasons of what are currently slated to be Ohtani’s free agent years. Anaheim set a franchise record with an outlay in the $182MM range to start last season. An Ohtani extension would probably require owner Arte Moreno to stretch his longer-term payrolls a bit further if the front office is to have the requisite payroll flexibility to supplement a Trout – Ohtani – Rendon core group.

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