Latest on Mets target Shohei Ohtani: Joe Maddon believes star open to playing outside West Coast
Here is the latest rumors and buzz surrounding Mets target Shohei Ohtani...
April 25, 9:15 p.m.
Former Los Angeles Angels manager Joe Maddon said he had never seen Shoei Ohtani as animated as he was when he struck out Mike Trout to win the World Baseball Classic and hinted that could play a role in free agency.
"I watch him a lot and I talk to him a lot and he's a really good dude, but I've never seen that kind of reaction from him," Maddon said on the "Starkville" podcast with Jayson Stark and Doug Glanville.
And it sounds like Ohtani's former manager sees playing in a WBC-type atmosphere and having the chance to win is going to be a big factor for the superstar when making a decision if hits free agency after this season.
"I think more than anything Shohei wants to go somewhere where he feels assured that he's gonna have a chance to win, to win a championship, be part of a championship team annually. That's gonna be important to him," Maddon said.
Ohtani's former manager went on to say that the Japanese superstar may be more willing to leave the West Coast than he was when he first came to MLB.
"And a part of that, I believe – and I don't have any inside information about this – is that when he first came here he said, pretty much that, he wanted to stay on the West Coast because Japan, it was new to him, everything was new," Maddon added. "I think the guy's been Americanized, he's kind of like captured the hearts of pretty much everybody in this country. I think right now you can go anywhere to play baseball and feel good about it, I do. He's adaptable anywhere right now. That opens up everything. Including Canada, I mean, he'll go anywhere I think now to play baseball. There's gonna be a lotta suitors."
And, obviously, it is going to take a lot of money to get a deal done.
"Shohei's gotta go to free agency. He has to," Maddon said. "And once he arrives there, somebody's not gonna get outbid. There's several teams that are not gonna get outbid on this one. So if you're willing to spend an exorbitant amount of money that exceeds – with all the other people [and] the contracts you have in place – truly to do that, you might have a shot."
If the Angels have any chance at re-signing, Maddon said, they will have to go deep into the playoffs. But he classified the Angels' chances of re-signing Ohtani as "not very good" before adding that if Los Angeles falls out of contention the AL West club has to make a trade before the deadline.
April 20, 11:02 a.m.
Ohtani is set to become a free agent after the season, but he could be a former Angel sooner than that.
Speaking on Get Up, ESPN's Jeff Passan detailed the situation:
"There's one number that we need to be looking at when it comes to Shohei Ohtani's future, and that is the Los Angeles Angels' record," Passan explained. "Because as long as the Angels are in contention, as long as the Angels have hope for a playoff spot, Shohei Ohtani's probably not going to be traded at the deadline this year.
"But if the Angels fall out of contention, and if it's just more of the same as it's been over the last five years that he's been there, he could be traded, and he will definitely leave."
The Angels are 9-9, 3.0 games behind the Texas Rangers in the AL West and 1.5 games out of the third Wild Card spot.
The Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers are the two teams most often linked to Ohtani as it pertains to potential suitors should he reach free agency.
March 24, 10:55 p.m.
After taking home World Baseball Classic MVP honors and striking out teammate Mike Trout to cap Japan’s win, potential Mets target Shohei Ohtani’s appetite for big games and big moments has only increased.
“I definitely felt that experiencing win-or-go-home,” Ohtani said Friday, via MLB.com, when asked about the big WBC moments and playing in the World Series one day.
"I definitely felt like I want to experience that here, too. It was my first time starting pitching and playing in a playoff atmosphere like that since my days in Japan, so it was a little different. I felt like this is what baseball should be all about. I’ve never experienced the World Series, and it's hard to tell you [what that would be like], but my guess is it would be something similar.”
The Los Angeles Angels have not made the playoffs during his five seasons with the club. However, they are projected to finish above .500 in the latest PECOTA projections, which gives them a 53.1-percent chance of making their first postseason trip since 2015.
But Ohtani, who will be a free agent this offseason, added that his performance in big-time moments this spring and his impending free agency won’t change his contract situation with the Angles.
“I don't think it really changes anything in regards to free agency, but I definitely want to win a ring with the Angels,” Ohtani said. "I have a week to prepare. So I’ll rest up, prepare and be ready.”
Feb. 27, 6:10 p.m.
Shohei Ohtani's future with the Los Angeles Angles is riding on the team making the playoffs this season, Mike Trout tells Jon Heyman of the New York Post.
In an interview with Heyman on Monday, Trout said "this is the year for sure" to break their postseason drought, before adding that it "has got to be the year... it's got to be."
“Especially if we want to keep Shohei,” Trout said. “We win and get to the playoffs, he’d think about it a little bit more.”
The Angels have a 57.6 percent chance to make the postseason as of Monday's PECOTA projections from Baseball Prospectus, but they only have a 37.4 percent chance according to FanGraphs.
Of course, even if they beat the odds, many around baseball believe Ohtani is headed for free agency this offseason.
The Angels have not had a winning season since 2015, and outside of Trout, there is not much talent on the big league roster. On top of that, they have one of the worst farm systems in baseball.
If the season starts poorly, they could be faced with a decision: deal their two-way star before the trade deadline or risk losing him for nothing but a draft pick if he leaves in free agency. And nobody expects Angles owner Artie Moreno to strike a deal with Ohtani on an extension during the season, like San Diego just did with Manny Machado.
If the 28-year-old phenom ends up on the open market, the Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers are expected to be two of the most obvious landing spots.
Feb. 21, 12:30 p.m.
As many assume, Los Angeles Angles superstar Shohei Ohtani appears headed for free agency this offseason.
Ohtani's agent, Nez Balelo from CAA Sports, hinted to reporters on Monday afternoon that his client will probably test the open market this offseason, according to ESPN.
“Shohei's earned the right to play through the year, explore free agency, and we'll see where it shakes out,” Balelo said.
He added that Ohtani has “always been open” to negotiating a contract extension with the organization. He wouldn't comment on the status of talks, but Ohtani recently indicated that they haven't been "deep."
Ohtani also danced around questions about whether or not he wanted to return, saying "as of now I'm an Angel, and that's all I want to focus on."
Balelo kept that stance, saying that for right now, Ohtani is just taking things day-by-day.
“Shohei's been here five years, now this is his final year. Now we have free agency, so of course there's gonna be a lot of questions, what does he wanna do, where's he gonna go, all of it. And I've said this so many times and Shohei has said it as well -- we really take it day by day, one day at a time.”
Feb. 16, 11:58 a.m.
Pending free agent and possible Mets target Shohei Ohtani had a news availability at Los Angeles Angels camp in front of dozens of local and national reporters to discuss his future.
While the 28-year-old danced around whether or not he wanted to return, saying "as of now I'm an Angel and that's all I want to focus on," he did shed some light on the state of negotiations with Los Angeles.
Ohtani noted that he hasn't had any "deep" conversations with the team about his future there.
Feb. 15, 12:46 p.m.
Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout told reporters on Wednesday that he's intent on keeping pending free agent and possible Mets target Shohei Ohtani with the Angels.
"I’m going to do everything I can to keep Shohei (Ohtani) here," Trout said.
Angels owner Arte Moreno, who has abandoned his plan to sell the team, recently reiterated his desire to keep Ohtani.
"I’d like to keep Ohtani," Moreno told Jon Heyman of The New York Post. "He’s one of a kind, He’s a great person. He’s obviously one of the most popular baseball players in the world, and he’s an international star. He’s a great teammate. He works hard. He’s a funny guy, and he has a really good rapport with fans."
Added Moreno about signing Ohtani: "I’d like to say we have as good a chance as anybody."