Will Angels keep Ohtani? Owner says LA has ‘good a chance as anybody’

The Los Angeles Angles are in a precarious position with two-way star player Shohei Ohtani, who is set to become a free agent at the end of the 2023 season.

Widely considered one of the best players in all of baseball, Ohtani is expected to fetch a record-setting contract that could be in the range of half a billion dollars. The Angels, as a result, face an uphill battle to retain Ohtani.

After originally putting the team up for sale, Angels owner Arte Moreno changed his mind in January and took the team off the market. While the Angels considered trade offers for Ohtani in order to recoup assets for a player who might eventually walk, the Angels opted to keep him. Now, one of Moreno’s primary objectives is to keep the star player.

‘I’d like to keep Ohtani,’ Moreno told The New York Post in an interview Wednesday at the MLB owners meetings. ‘He’s one of a kind, He’s a great person. He’s obviously one of the most popular baseball players in the world, and he’s an international star. He’s a great teammate. He works hard. He’s a funny guy, and he has a really good rapport with fans.’

Here’s everything you need to know about Ohtani’s relationship with the Angels:

Who is Shoehei Ohtani?

Born in Oshu, Japan, Ohtani, 28, excels as both a designated hitter and starting pitcher. Last season, he posted career highs in at-bats (586) and hits (160), and also smacked 34 home runs on a .273 batting average, driving in 95 runs. As a starting pitcher, Ohtani drew a 15-9 record and 2.33 earned run average with 219 strike outs in 28 starts.

He finished second in the AL Most Valuable Player race behind Yankees slugger Aaron Judge and also finished fourth in Cy Young voting. After the 2021 season, Ohtani won the AL MVP award unanimously, becoming the first two-way player in history to do so.

He is a global sports icon and has signed multiple lucrative endorsements both domestically and in Japan. In October, he and the Angels agreed to a one-year, $30 million contract extension through the 2023 season.

What else did Arte Moreno say about Shohei Ohtani?

Moreno acknowledged that the franchise needs to perform better in order to have a chance to make a compelling offer to Ohtani.

‘We have to win,’ he told the Post. ‘We have to do a better job on the field.’

The Angels finished third in the AL West in 2022 with a 73-89 record. The team fired veteran manager Joe Maddon in June after a losing streak reached 12 games. The Angels have missed the playoffs in eight consecutive seasons.

‘He fits in well with what we do,” Moreno said of Ohtani. ‘We’re in the entertainment business. We want fans to be able to come to the ballpark and have a great experience.

‘I’d like to say we have as good a chance as anybody.’

This post appeared first on USA TODAY