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A lot of people criticized the Los Angeles Angels for the decision to take Shohei Ohtani off the trade market, citing the possibility of the team losing him for nothing in free agency this winter.
But it remains a possibility that Ohtani could re-sign with the organization.
“[Ohtani] loves it out there,” a source told Jon Heyman of the New York Post. “He’s very comfortable there.”
“Some have suggested the Angels’ chances to keep him are no better than five percent, but [team owner Arte Moreno] may be more motivated than anyone else, and he has a history of signing stars (Mike Trout twice, Albert Pujols, Anthony Rendon, etc.). The Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners are the most-mentioned likely landing spots for Ohtani. But don’t discount the Angels.”
There are a few reasons why Ohtani might stay.
For one, he chose the Angels in the first place, and every other team would have signed him. Since then, Ohtani has absolutely thrived, and the Angels catering to his comfort and preferences has likely played a big role in that.
Jeff Fletcher @JeffFletcherOCR
This Nevin quote from today’s other Ohtani story — about how they shuffled the rotation — is instructive in finding a reason why Ohtani may want to stay.
“As always, it revolves around what’s best for Shohei, because of who he is and what he does on an everyday basis for us.”
If the Angels are willing to match any offers Ohtani receives in free agency—he is going to receive plenty, and they will be record-setting figures—will Ohtani prioritize familiarity?
Another knock against the Angels is the organization’s eight-year playoff drought. It would be hard to blame Ohtani for going to another West Coast team with a history of more consistent contention, like the Dodgers or Giants.
But what if the Angels manage to secure a playoff berth this year? Will that remove another blemish on the Halos’ resume?
Ohtani responded to Wednesday’s report from SI.com’s Tom Verducci that he wasn’t going to be traded by throwing a one-hit shutout in the first game of a doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox, and blasting two home runs—his MLB-leading 37th and 38th—in Game 2.
Both were wins, bringing the Angels to 54-49 on the season, just three games behind the Toronto Blue Jays for the final berth in the AL Wild Card chase. It wasn’t the performance of a man unhappy he wasn’t getting a change of scenery.
Maybe he’ll ultimately leave for greener pastures. Maybe the Angels will rue the decision to keep him ahead of the Aug. 1 deadline.
Or maybe, just maybe, they’ll hold on to the most captivating superstar in generations. It’s hardly outside the realm of possibility.