The Los Angeles Angels will not be trading Japanese star player Shohei Ohtani in the offseason, just a year before the pitcher and designated hitter becomes a free agent. Angels GM Perry Minasian made the announcement to reporters on Monday, per Sam Blum of The Athletic. Ohtani, who is arguably the best all-around player in the MLB since joining the league in 2018, signed a one-year, $30million last month to avoid arbitration. 

The reigning AL MVP had a memorable season, despite the Angels’ 33-48 overall records. He registered a career-high 160 hits and 30 doubles to round off 34 home runs, 90 runs, 95 RBIs and a .273 batting average`e.  As a pitcher, Ohtani was 15-9 with 219 strikeouts and an impressive 2.33 ERA.

The Angels, who are desperately looking to pen down Ohtani to a long-term deal while balancing its books, are not expected to keep the 28-year-old past the 2023 season, leaving potential suitors including the Padres, Cardinals, Blue Jays and Braves, to battle for his signature, according to Bleacher Report. 

A rival GM told The New York Post’s John Heyman in July that Ohtani is unlikely to get the raise he deserves, if he stays with the Angels, where he once agreed to a two-year, $8.5 million contract with the team during his 2021 AL MVP year. ‘If you’re the Angels, you have to sign Ohtani. But once you sign him, you can’t win,’ the anonymous MLB front office executive told Heyman, stressing the LA franchise’s ongoing difficulty to tie down its superstar. 

On top of that, owner Arte Moreno put a ‘For Sale’ sign on his franchise in August, saying he is strongly thinking about giving up after nearly two decades of mostly underwhelming stewardship. Moreno purchased the Angels for $184 million in 2003 and the ball club is now worth more than $2 billion, according to a Forbes estimate. The sale price could even reach $3 billion, higher than the most expensive baseball team in the New York Mets ($2.4 billion). 

Until Moreno decides whether to move on, nobody who works for the Angels knows exactly what’s looming in the team’s future, which hasn’t felt bright for years despite having stars like Ohtani and Mike Trout. The Angels are mired in the majors’ longest playoff drought (eight consecutive years, shared with Detroit) and the longest streak of losing seasons (seven straight years) after going 73-89 and finishing third in the AL West, 13 games out of a playoff spot.

The Halos were 24-13 in mid-May, but soon entered a franchise-record 14-game losing streak during which Minasian fired manager Joe Maddon. After that, the Angels spent another summer failing to capitalize on the transcendent talents of Ohtani and Trout, who have won two AL MVP awards and no postseason games during their five years together.

‘We’ve got two of the greatest players ever to put on uniforms, but we need more,’ Minasian said. ‘It’s not a 2-on-2 game. If it was, I would love our chances.’ ‘I’m very confident we’ll be able to make this team better,’ Minasian said. 

Minasian knows it’s his responsibility to surround Ohtani and Trout with the supporting cast to succeed. He is determined to do it right this winter, even if he can’t say exactly how he’ll do that with an owner who’s thinking about leaving, and a newly permanent manager  Phil Nevin  who’s on a one-year contract in a nod to the Angels’ unsettled future.

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