Approaching the trade deadline next week, Los Angeles Angels Shohei Ohtani addressed questions about his future in the league. Reporters asked whether he would stay in the Angels, to which Ohtani answered that he would do his best "regardless of where I'm playing".
"I'm with the Angels right now, and I'm very thankful for what they've done," Ohtani said. "I love my team and my teammates. Right now I'm an Angel, and that's all I can focus on."
The 28-year-old pitcher debuted in 2018 and has spent all of his five years in the major league with the Angels. Once the 2023 season ends, Ohtani is eligible to start free agency.
Throughout his career with the Angels, his team always finished below .500 each season. They also haven't had the chance to join the playoffs.
Despite the team's lackluster performance, Ohtani's records remain significant. Last year, he was unanimously voted as American League MVP. He even defeated Stephen Curry in the 2022 ESPY as the Best Male Athlete. He also got the title of Best MLB Player.
This year, his stats have improved compared to last year. Until today, he has earned 21 home runs and .835 OPS as a batter. Meanwhile, his pitching stats are 2.81 ERA with 145 strikeouts over 99.1 innings.
He also recorded two-digit strikeouts in six consecutive starts. The last time being in a game against the Texas Rangers on Thursday night. Despite the nearly career-best record, the Angels concluded the home series with 2-0, dropping their stats 15 games under .500.
The Angels also face an issue as their other star player Mike Trout experiences a back injury that can hinder his performance.
According to the New York Post's Jon Heyman and Joel Sherman, the Angels are studying offers for Ohtani but it is "very unlikely" to reach an agreement before the trade deadline on August 2. It is because Ohtani's trade deal involves several facets that are difficult to arrange in just several days.
Ohtani himself is a unique case in the MLB. The star player is still making a budget-friendly $5,5 million this season, despite being an ace player. A team does not need to pay a big sum to recruit Ohtani and he would still be under a team throughout 2023, which offers stability to the new team.
Still, the Angels can still demand a lot for Ohtani. An insider revealed that the Angels proposed the other team's "four top prospects" in exchange for Ohtani.
The Post wrote that the Angels need to make decisions fast as their leverage will reduce significantly if Ohtani decides to choose the free agency route.
While Ohtani's prospect in this trade market remains unclear, the Post also mentioned several Angels players who are likely to be traded. They are relievers Ryan Tepera and Aaron Loup, closer Raisel Iglesias, and starter Noah Syndergaard.
Moreover, the media also reported that the Angels are interested in bringing the Washington Nationals' Juan Soto to their team. The young outfielder recently made headlines for refusing an extension deal worth $400 million.
However, there are other teams including the San Diego Padres and the Seattle Mariners that participated in the race. The Post suggested the possibility of Ohtani's name being involved in the Soto's trade.
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