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Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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Angels Run Big Risks Opting To ‘Roll The Dice’ On Keeping Ohtani

  • Team looks to end nine-year playoff drought by keeping transcendent talent
  • Retaining Ohtani when he hits free agency will likely require league-record contract
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno is likely making — at minimum — a $500 million bet that he can retain one of baseball’s most transcendent talents and transform his lagging franchise.

After weeks of back-and-forth speculation, the Angels have pulled two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani off the trade market, believing the team can both better compete this year and improve its chance to retain the Japanese star when he hits free agency this winter.

The decision will have massive implications across the franchise. 

The Angels haven’t reached the postseason since 2014, tying the longest active drought in the league, and they still sit outside of playoff position — a situation that irks Ohtani. The club also is 10th in MLB attendance with a per-game average of 33,637, a ranking and figure that would plummet with an endorsement magnet like Ohtani gone and star teammate Mike Trout still injured.

But Moreno — who has been continually beset with ownership and stadium issues — believes the Angels’ best chance to retain Ohtani long-term is to not let him go in the first place.

Beyond 2023 loyalty, though, keeping Ohtani will likely require a MLB-record contract of at least $500 million — an outlay arriving at a time when the link between player spending and on-field success is being inverted like never before.

“We’re going to roll the dice and see what happens,” said Angels GM Perry Minasian. “Whether it works or it doesn’t, I can go to bed at night and say, ‘You know what, we did this for the right reasons.’”

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