An ace on the mound, one of the best power hitters in baseball, and is a threat to steal once on base Shohei Ohtani is the perfect player for any roster. Since coming from Japan Ohtani has been a star in Major League Baseball (MLB) and with his contract expiring this offseason the Angels are going to do whatever it takes to be able to keep him. Ohtani just finished his fourth year with the Angels and is signed to an 8.5-million-dollar two-year contract. He is eligible for salary arbitration after the 2022 season and would become a free agent in 2023 if the collective bargaining agreement does not change on December 1st.
“Of course, I’ll be very open to negotiation. I mean the team is supporting me for this whole four years and I’m appreciative of that,” Ohtani said through an interpreter in a Sports Illustrated article. “Whether or not there are any contract extensions I just want to, as I said earlier, be ready and be ready for next season.”
The Angels are going to have to improve their roster so that they can convince Ohtani to sign an extension. By making the Angels a playoff contender it will help convince him that this team can be successful, especially with him there.
How the Angels Keep Ohtani: Retaining Players that Benefit Them Now
This is another pressure-filled offseason for general manager Perry Minasian with trying to build this team to make a playoff push. To make this team a wild card contender Minasian is going to have to spend some money to make drastic changes to the roster, especially the starting pitching.
This year the Angels pitching staff ranked 22nd in earned run average(ERA), 12th in strikeouts with over 1400 strikeouts, and 19th in opposing batting average with opposing hitters averaging .251 off them.
Pitching was not the only hole the Angels had this year. Other than the consistent bat of Ohtani the Angels offense also struggled. In major batting categories including batting average, on-base percentage and runs batted in the Angels were on the bottom half of all those categories.
With free agency looming some big decisions need to be made. Notable free agents the Angels have this offseason include starting pitchers Alex Cobb and Dylan Bundy. Notable relievers are Raisel Iglesias, Steve Cishek, and AJ Ramos. And finally, some notable position players that could leave are Adam Eaton, Juan Lagares, and Kurt Suzuki.
A lot of these players were helpful in their 2021 campaign filling in for injured players in the field. Iglesias was one of the best closers in the league and bolstered the bullpen. He had 34 saves in 39 opportunities with a 2.57 era.
Cishek was another reliable reliever that would make sense to resign because of his reliability and being able to eat up innings. In his 74 games, he pitched 68.1 innings and had a 3.42 ERA.
The rest of the pieces that are free agents should be considered last resorts if they cannot make upgrades. To keep Ohtani, Perry Minasian has to make upgrades to make the team in winnow mode.
Notable Free Agents That Would Help Keep Ohtani
This offseason some free agents can help this team take the next step to make a playoff run. One of the main positions they must focus on is starting pitching.
As of now, the Angels have a lot of young potentials however it could be another year or two until we see how good they are. Pitchers like Patrick Sandoval, who got hurt halfway through the year, and Reid Detmers, who pitched minimally because of how late he was called up, showed promising upside. Adding veteran pitching to the staff will give confidence to the other pieces in the rotation.
A big splash that would help the Angel right away would be adding a piece like Kevin Gausman and/or Robbie Ray. Both pitchers had fantastic 2021 seasons with Gausman helping the Giants make it to the National Divisional Series and Ray making a strong case for being the American League Cy Young winner.
Another big hole that the Angels had the past year was at shortstop. For the past couple of years, it has been a revolving door with Andrelton Simmons and José Iglesias who are terrific defensive shortstops but never were able to do much offensively.
This year’s class of shortstops is very extensive and includes big names such as Javier Báez, Carlos Correa, and Corey Seager. All of these stars are great offensively and solid in the field which would be a significant upgrade to what they have now.
The best option to pursue would be going for Corey Seager to add a left-handed bat in the lineup. Right now, Jo Adell, Jared Walsh, and Shohei Ohtani are the three projected left-handers in the lineup for next year. Adding Seager’s experienced bat to the lineup will stabilize the middle of the order and make it terrifying for opposing pitching.
Overall, the Angels keep Shohei Ohtani is by showing him that the team is willing to put the pieces in place to have a win-now mentality. Not making the playoffs for his first four years in the Major Leagues can be changed in 2022 by upgrading the lineup to support their current stars of Ohtani, Trout, and Rendon.
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