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It will soon be time for Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani to negotiate for a new contract — and apparently, the Angeles are willing to break the bank.
There’s often a choice in sports between money and winning: championship teams can’t afford to pay all their stars, and losing markets often have the deepest pockets.
According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, the Angels broached the topic during spring training, but nothing ever materialized.
Rosenthal revealed that the Angels had “informal discussions” with Ohtani’s camp, and there was an “understanding” that Ohtani’s new deal needs to best Max Scherzer’s record AAV of $43.3 million. Although the Angels were eager to get a deal done, the talks “never gained traction.”
Ohtani isn’t purely motivated by money, and that just might be worse in the Angels’ case: because if the Angels can’t win, Ohtani may consider leaving for a team where he can.
“But more than that, I want to win,” Ohtani told The Athletic’s Sam Blum last September. “That’s the biggest thing for me. So, I’ll leave it at that.”
Shohei Ohtani left Angels hanging during spring contract talks
In January, Ohtani clarified that he didn’t want to explore a contract extension until he finishes out the 2022 season. This year, Ohtani is earning just $8.5 million, which is a fifth of what Scherzer earns per year.
Bleacher Report’s Zachary D. Rymer pointed out that the Angels’ “24-13 start has given way to a 5-21 slide,” which doesn’t bode well for a premier two-way player focused on winning. The Joe Maddon firing represents the worst of an Angels slump, with Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani performing below expectations. Rymer also points out that the Angels are “on track to finish below .500 for the seventh time in as many years.”
Ohtani’s reluctance to get a deal done with the Angels could be a sign that he’s singularly focused on winning at any cost — or, it could signify that Ohtani is adding another year to justify a record-breaking contract with a bigger number. Whatever the reason is, the fact that Ohtani wants to win and the Angels aren’t winning isn’t a good omen.