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MLB

Ohtani Makes It Clear: Angels Must Improve Or He Will Leave

MLB superstar Shohei Ohtani has made his views on extending his stay with the Los Angeles Angels beyond his 2023 contract expiration date crystal clear; and it does not make happy reading for Angels fans.

In an interview with Japanese sports magazine Number, Ohtani was asked about his long-term future at the organization beyond the end of his current contrast.

His answer, while polite, was certainly non-committal at best and it has firmly placed the ball in the court of franchise owner, Arte Moreno.

Evident Frustration

What was abundantly clear from the interview was that Ohtani is clearly frustrated at the fact the Angels have not moved to make any significant investment in players to help turn the team into a winning franchise.

The Japanese superstar admitted he was frustrated that the team “didn’t add any reinforcements” when the league hit the trade deadline and that the owners “continued to play with a team that was still weak.”

“I don’t think we can win with the way things are,” he commented.

He may have a point. As we head towards the Major League end of season playoffs, the Angels are fourth out of five in the American League west with a 74-83 record and they have lost eight of their last ten games.

Only the Orioles, Royals, Twins and Rangers have a worse record in the AL than the Angels and their playoff hopes were extinguished a good while ago.

Clear Meaning In Comments

When pointedly asked if he would extend his current contract beyond 2023, Ohtani made it crystal clear what his intentions are.

“I really like the team. I like the fans. I like the atmosphere in the organization,” he commented.

“But, more than that, I want to win. That’s the biggest thing for me. I’ll leave it at that.”

And when asked about whether the Angels could contend for the playoffs in any of his remaining two seasons with the franchise, Ohtani would only respond with a non-committal, “I wonder.”

It is therefore abundantly clear that Ohtani, as things stand, would not extend his contract with the Angels beyond 2023, unless Arte Moreno and his team make some major changes at the franchise over the next 12 months to turn the team into genuine playoff contenders.

Angels Stagnate Under Moreno’s Ownership

When Art Moreno bought the Angels in 2003, the team reached the postseason five times in six years between 2004 and 2009.

However, as the franchise owner became more ‘hands-on’ with the baseball operations, so the teams fortunes began to decline and many trace that decline back to Moreno’s decision-making.

His decision to hire Tony Reagins as GM and the huge cost of signing players like Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols are cited as evidence of how Moreno’s decision-making has cost the team.

Clearly, a team boasting the talents of Ohtani and Mike Trout should certainly not be missing out on the playoffs for seven consecutive seasons.

And a player of Ohtani’s talents should not have a winning record considerably lower than 0.500 over his four seasons with the franchise.

It is not just Ohtani that is frustrated with things. Fans are too.

Two Potential Scenarios

For many Angels fans, there are two potential scenarios that could unfold at the organization in the coming 12-24 months.

Firstly, Moreno could look to sell the team to someone willing to invest in the roster to give Ohtani the support he needs to make the Angels relevant again.

With Moreno’s stock falling with fans, that would probably be the choice of most Angels fans.

Perhaps more likely than a change of owner, could be a change of scenery for Ohtani as the Angels could look to trade him at some point over the next 24 months in order to avoid losing him to Free Agency when his deal expires.

And for a player that it is a once in a century talent and likely to be the league’s MVP this season, he won’t have any shortage of teams interested in recruiting him.

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