August 15, 2022

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Where do Angels, Shohei Ohtani go from here?

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This story was excerpted from Rhett Bollinger’s Angels Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

ANAHEIM — It was another strong showing on the mound for Shohei Ohtani, who struck out 11 batters over six innings against the Rangers on Thursday to extend his streak to six straight starts with at least 10 strikeouts.

But it came in yet another loss for the Angels, who are positioned to be sellers leading up to Tuesday’s Trade Deadline. The Angels are doing their due diligence and listening in on offers for Ohtani, who will be a free agent after next season. But he isn’t expected to be traded, per multiple reports, including from MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi.

Ohtani, though, was asked after his outing if he wanted to remain with the Angels, but essentially said it’s out of his control right now.

“Regardless of where I’m playing, I’m going to give it my all and try to win that ballgame in front of me,” Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. “I’m with the Angels right now, and I’m very thankful for what they’ve done. I love my team and my teammates. Right now, I’m an Angel, and that’s all I can focus on at this point.”

The Los Angeles Times had a slightly different interpretation for what Ohtani said after the game, but the message was largely the same.

“The question isn’t whether I want to stay,” Ohtani said. “I have to do what I’m supposed to do. Regardless of where I am, what I do doesn’t change. Of course, there’s the part of me that feels grateful of how the team has taken care of me. I like the fans, too, of course. Right now, as long as I’m with the Angels — and it was like that today, too — I want to do my best to win each and every game. There’s tomorrow to think about, too, and I have to turn the page.”

It’s become clear for the Angels that even if they don’t move Ohtani before the Trade Deadline, they need to build a winner around him next year before he heads to free agency. He said last year that winning was the “biggest thing” to him and the Angels have yet to post a winning record since he joined the club in 2018.

If the Angels are going to have a chance to re-sign Ohtani they need to prove to him that they can be consistent winners going forward. If not, and Ohtani indicates he wouldn’t be interested in re-signing, then it could make sense to trade him. But even then, it doesn’t appear likely that ownership would be interested in trading a global superstar for prospects.

So, the Angels, and the front office led by general manager Perry Minasian, have their work cut out for them when it comes to Ohtani and the future of the franchise given the way things have played out again this season. And even if they do re-sign Ohtani, they need to find a way to build around the high-priced contracts for Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon and Ohtani.

There doesn’t appear to be an easy fix, but the Angels have to improve their depth around their stars, or else they could be stuck in this rut indefinitely.

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