NASHVILLE, Tenn. — With Shohei Ohtani’s free-agency process shrouded in mystery, the biggest benefit the Angels can offer Ohtani is a sense of comfort and knowing what to expect from the organization.
That’s one reason many around the league said at the annual winter meetings that they hoped Ohtani would eventually re-sign with the Angels. While the Blue Jays and Dodgers have emerged as his other potential destinations, they remain very much in the mix to retain Ohtani. The Cubs and Giants have also indicated interest, but it’s unclear how seriously Ohtani is considering those clubs.
The Angels are reluctant to talk about Ohtani’s relationship, refusing to even reveal whether there has been an official meeting with him and his representative, Ness Balelo. As manager Dave Roberts said Tuesday that Ohtani and the Dodgers had recently met for several hours, it was against the Dodgers. Even the Blue Jays were careful not to reveal too much, although Ohtani reportedly met with Toronto’s camp at its spring training facility in Florida on Monday.
Ohtani wants to keep his free agency as private as possible, so it’s unclear whether talks about his meetings with other clubs will influence his decision. General manager Perry Minasian was asked about it Wednesday, but wisely deferred.
“Everybody does different things,” Minassian said. “Companies do different things. So I stay away from that.”
The Angels, however, have made it clear they want to bring Ohtani back. The Angels and Ohtani still believe in each other, especially after successfully rehabbing from Tommy John surgery to become a two-time AL MVP. They give him an unparalleled amount of freedom to make his own plan and remove his restrictions in 2021.
Ohtani, 29, may decide he’s more comfortable with the Angels, especially after undergoing surgery in September to rehabilitate his elbow again next year. After two or three years, when he’s fully healthy, it would make sense for him to step down to give himself a chance to earn a new contract again.
It’s all fascinating and could end soon, as MLB.com’s John Paul Morosi reported Wednesday that Ohtani is expected to make his decision by Sunday.
1. Starting Pitching: The Angels could use a veteran starter that already includes Patrick Sandoval, Reed Dedmers, Tyler Anderson, Griffin Canning and Chase Silseth. The club is likely to use a five-man rotation because if Ohtani re-signs, he won’t pitch in 2024 due to elbow surgery. It’s impossible to keep much starting pitching, so increasing their depth makes a lot of sense.
2. Relief Arms: The Angels signed lefty Adam Kolarek to a one-year contract on Nov. 26 and reportedly signed right-hander Luis Garcia to a one-year contract on Tuesday. The club also agreed to a one-year, $1.65 million deal with owner Adam Simmer, a source said. MLB.comMark Fainsand on Wednesday. But it could use more help in the bullpen. Carlos Estévez is expected to be the closer, but the Angels will have to find ways to close the gap with him. They reportedly met with former Cardinals reliever Jordan Hicks during the winter meetings.
3. Application Type Players: The Angels need players who can play multiple positions like Gio Urshela did last year. The club values versatility and depth, especially with star players Mike Trout and Anthony Renton dealing with injuries in recent seasons. It would make sense to add another outfielder who can play all three positions, as well as an infielder who can play both corners.
The Angels signed right-handed reliever Jose Marte to a minor league contract on Nov. 17. But the Angels have yet to announce Garcia’s contract because it is a physical. The same goes for their deal with Simmer.
The Angels were the No. 5 pick in the Rule 5 draft. 7 passed the test and did not lose any players to any other club at the Major League stage.
“We’ve definitely made progress in some different things. There are areas that we’ve focused on here from a free agent standpoint and from a trade standpoint, and sitting here today, I feel like we’re closer and closer today than we were yesterday. So we’ll see what happens. But a lot of it here. Conversations should set things up a week from now, two weeks from now, a month from now. — Minasian