Angels unlikely to trade Shohei Ohtani if they stay in contention, GM says

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - JUNE 15: Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels celebrates in his dugout after hitting a two-run home run during the eighth inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field on June 15, 2023 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by S

The Los Angeles Angels are highly unlikely to trade Shohei Ohtani if they remain in playoff contention this summer, general manager Perry Minasian said Tuesday.

Minasian didn’t unequivocally vow he won’t trade Ohtani, who is scheduled to enter unrestricted free agency after the season. But the GM underlined his season-long stance on the issue while strongly indicating he still intends to do everything possible to end the Angels’ eight-year playoff drought — and that includes taking the massive risk of losing their two-way superstar in free agency.

"It’s pretty self-explanatory with where we’re at (in the standings)," Minasian said while speaking to reporters before the Angels opened a two-game Freeway Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are likely to be one of the top contenders for Ohtani’s services in free agency.

The second-place Angels are 41-33 entering Tuesday’s games, holding one of the AL’s wild card playoff spots and trailing AL West-leading Texas by five games after being nine back only two weeks ago. The Halos took three of four from the Rangers in Arlington last week as part of an 11-3 surge that has boosted their chances of making the playoffs for the first time in Ohtani’s career.

Ohtani, who turns 29 next month, is the cornerstone of the Angels’ current success during an increasingly spectacular season in which he leads the major leagues in homers, RBIs, slugging percentage — and opponents’ batting average.

Ohtani is hitting .300 with a 1.016 OPS, 24 homers and 58 RBIs. On the mound, the 2021 AL MVP and 2022 runner-up is 6-2 with a 3.29 ERA, and his 105 strikeouts are the fifth-most in the majors while his opponents’ .178 average is the best mark in the majors.

After contributing an extra-base hit in every game last week during the Halos’ 5-2 road trip, Ohtani was named the AL Player of the Week for the fifth time in his career. He went 10 for 23 (.435) with six homers, 12 RBIs, 10 walks and a 1.893 OPS. He also pitched six innings of two-run ball to beat Texas in his only mound start.

Ohtani is all but guaranteed to make his third consecutive All-Star Game start next month. He is the AL’s current leading vote-getter with nearly 1.4 million more votes than his closest competitor at designated hitter.

Ohtani is making $30 million this season in his final year of Angels team control. He has been in Anaheim for six seasons since he chose the club for his move from Japan in late 2017, but the Angels have yet to make the postseason or even post a winning record during his tenure alongside Mike Trout.

The MLB trade deadline is Aug. 1. If the Angels don’t move Ohtani, they could get only a compensatory draft pick if he signs with another team as a free agent.

Ohtani will be coveted by every team in the majors this winter, and aggressive clubs like the Dodgers, Mets, Giants and Padres are expected to compete with the fairly deep-pocketed Angels for his services if he reaches free agency. Ohtani’s agent, Naz Balelo, indicated in February that Ohtani probably will go into free agency to determine his future, rather than signing an extension in 2023.