Shohei Ohtani’s epic season has made him one of the most fascinating players in recent memory, and his contract status may only add to that intrigue. Ohtani is controlled through the 2023 campaign (via the final year of his current two-year contract with the Angels and then a final arbitration-eligible season) and as ESPN’s Buster Olney writes, speculation has already begun about whether a potential Ohtani extension would set new precedents. Rival evaluators feel the Angels could be best served to work out an extension with Ohtani this winter, in order to figure out as soon as possible how to best manage a difficult payroll situation.
It is hard to imagine that the Angels would trade Ohtani or let him walk in free agency, yet Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon are also committed to huge salaries and not going anywhere. Olney estimates that retaining that trio of stars could put Los Angeles on the hook for roughly $120MM-$130MM per year, which wouldn’t leave the Angels with much wiggle room in filling out the rest of the roster. While the luxury tax thresholds could rise in the next collective bargaining agreement and owner Arte Moreno has been willing to spend big, the Angels haven’t paid a tax bill since 2004. With Albert Pujols’ deal still on the books until the end of the season, the Angels are used to top-heavy payrolls, but that tactic has left the team unable to amass much in the way of depth (especially on the pitching side) and the Halos haven’t had a winning season since 2015.
More from the Halos…
- The team hasn’t yet any discussions about the possibility of shutting Trout down for the season, GM Perry Minasian told MLB.com’s Daniel Guerrero and other reporters. Trout is continuing to recover from a right calf strain that has kept him off the field since May 17, and the three-time AL MVP already experienced one setback last month that added a lot of uncertainty to his timeline. Since the Angels are a longshot in the postseason race, there wouldn’t seem to be any urgency to get Trout back for what amount to just a few weeks of meaningless September games. Minasian said that “we will not rush [Trout]. We want him to feel good about how his calf feels,” though he noted that the outfielder is “doing everything he can in his power to get back as soon as he can.”
- Rendon talked to The Athletic’s Sam Blum (Twitter links) and other reporters about his season-ending hip surgery, which is scheduled to take place next week. Rendon spent much of the season on the injured list with a variety of injuries stemming from his hip problem, leaving the third baseman feeling “weak” and like he “had no legs” throughout his 58 games played. The idea is that the surgery will fix the problem once and for all, and Rendon is hopeful that he’ll be ready for the start of Spring Training in February.
- X-rays were negative on Max Stassi’s forearm after the catcher was hit by an Alek Manoah pitch yesterday and was forced to leave the game. Angels manager Joe Maddon told reporters (including Jeff Fletcher of the Southern California News Group) that Stassi is undergoing some more tests but is feeling better, and he might be available to come off the bench in a defensive capacity tonight. Stassi has rather quietly been on fire since the start of the 2020 season, hitting .285/.362/.511 with 17 home runs over his last 309 PA. Of players with at least 300 PA in 2020-21, only 23 players have a better wRC+ than Stassi’s 139 mark.