Shohei Ohtani says last trade deadline was ideal time to move him if Angels desired

Angels' Shohei Ohtani stands in the dugout during the seventh inning.
Angels star Shohei Ohtani can become a free agent after the 2023 season.
(Godofredo A. Vásquez / Associated Press)

If there was ever an ideal moment to trade Shohei Ohtani, the two-way star said he thought it was at this year’s deadline.

“Even if I were the GM or owner, I judged the timing to trade me for the greatest return was this year,” the two-way star said in an interview recently published in the Japanese sports magazine Number. “If you take a long-term view of the team, I think there were many options to trade me.

“In America, the image of trades is 180 degrees different; it’s more of business-like, so I tried to not think about it,” he added after being asked how he felt about being in midseason trade rumors.

Ohtani was not traded at the August deadline.

Asked how he would feel if he had to adjust to a new team after spending several years with the Angels, Ohtani said: “If I was traded, I was traded and I just had to do my best there. It’s not as if the team didn’t need me or didn’t like me. If anything, it showed they thought I had value.”

The Angels did make moves at the deadline, sending starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard and left fielder Brandon Marsh to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for outfielder Mickey Moniak, top catching prospect Logan O’Hoppe and outfield prospect Jadiel Sanchez.

The Angels also traded their closer, Raisel Iglesias, to the Atlanta Braves for veteran reliever Jesse Chavez and young reliever Tucker Davidson.


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Ohtani — the 2021 American League MVP who was named an MVP finalist for 2022 on Monday — signed a one-year, $30-million deal before the end of the 2022 season to avoid arbitration. He can become a free agent after the season.

“I have feelings of wanting to win with the Angels,” Ohtani said. “I signed a contract next year with the Angels and right now, I can’t see beyond my Angels future.”

The Angels have not finished above .500 in any of the five seasons Ohtani has played for them.

Asked about the rhetoric that he should be traded to a team that can win after all the losing the Angels have endured, he said: “You don’t know what kind of team will win. There are many ways to win. … There isn’t one right way. But the teams to which I could go are being whittled down. Next year, I will receive $30 million and I think there are a limited number of teams that can invest that much money in one player.

“The teams to which a player with a high salary can go will always be limited, and in many instances, the player will have to go to a team to which the luxury tax doesn’t matter.”

Angels' Shohei Ohtani pitches against the Oakland Athletics.
Angels’ Shohei Ohtani pitches against the Oakland Athletics on Oct. 5 in Oakland.
(Godofredo A. Vásquez / Associated Press)

Ohtani’s name has floated around the rumor mill early this offseason.

Those rumors were put to bed on Monday, when Angels general manager Perry Minasian said he would not be traded at all this offseason.


“Because he’s obviously such a good player, we’re not moving him. Ohtani is not getting moved,” Minasian said at GM meetings at the Conrad Hotel. “He’ll be here to start the season. I know there’s been rumors and all types of things, but he will be part of the club. We love the player and I think the goal is for him to be here for a long time.”

Angels owner Arte Moreno announced at the end of the season that he hired a firm to start exploring the sale of the team. That process, Minasian reiterated Monday, has not affected his ability to continue to do his job. He said he “would not rule anything out” as far as working out an extension with Ohtani or any player.

Asked whether it’s his decision not to move Ohtani, Minasian said: “At the end of the day it’s ownership’s call. But I make the recommendations and I think everybody’s on the same page. Easy player not to move.”

As far as building a winning team, Minasian said he believed the Angels were not far off, but that they were not just one player away.

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“We have a lot of holes to fill,” Minasian said. “Raising the floor to a certain extent, and not raising the floor with minor league talent but raising the floor with major league talent is really, really important.”

Ohtani has also been critical, more so toward the end of the year, of the way the Angels played this season, which Minasian said he was not surprised by.


“I wouldn’t expect him to be happy about the season,” Minasian said. “The guy is a winner in everything he does. … For him, there’s a respect level for this organization and there’s a respect level for him and what he does on a daily basis.”