Ohtani 'very open' to extension with Angels
SEATTLE -- A week after saying winning is the “biggest thing” when it comes to deciding on his future with the Angels, Shohei Ohtani said Sunday that he’d be “very open” to negotiating a contract extension with the club this offseason.
Ohtani, who is finishing up a historic season as a two-way sensation, remains under team control for two more seasons. The Angels are expected to negotiate an extension with him this winter, much like they did with fellow superstar Mike Trout in 2019. Trout also had two years left on his deal before signing a 12-year extension through 2030.
“Of course, I’d be very open to a negotiation,” Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. “The team has supported [me] for the whole four years and I really appreciate that. But whether or not there’s an extension, I just want to be ready to perform next season.”
Ohtani, the frontrunner for the American League MVP Award, entered the final day of the season batting .257/.371/.588 with 45 homers, 26 doubles, eight triples, 26 stolen bases, 99 RBIs and 102 runs in 154 games. He made 23 starts on the mound, going 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA, 156 strikeouts and 44 walks in 130 1/3 innings.
Ohtani credited staying healthy for his success this year, though he lamented that he couldn’t do it sooner. He dealt with serious injuries early in his MLB career, including Tommy John surgery in 2018 and an operation to fix a bone issue in his left knee in 2019.
"I'll leave it up to the fans and the managers and other people out there to decide if I met expectations, but I'm always really happy to get through the season without any injuries," Ohtani said. "And, honestly, I wish I could have done this a lot earlier. This is my fourth year, so I think it took a little too long."
The 27-year-old believes he can be even better next year, especially as a pitcher. His command was off in the first few months of the season as it took him several starts before he began limiting walks.
Ohtani also said it’s a goal of his to get even stronger this winter and that he intends to have a rigorous offseason training regimen, much like he did last year. He believes it helped him stay healthy this year and noted there was never a point in the season where he felt anything more than normal fatigue. He said he’ll spend the next few weeks in Anaheim before heading back to Japan this offseason.
“For the most part, it’s going to remain pretty similar, but I’d like to increase my workload on my lifting,” Ohtani said. “I want to try to get stronger and better for next year. I think there's definitely a lot of room to improve, especially on the pitching side. Earlier in the year, I was kind of searching my way through and trying to brush off the rust. So, I felt better as the season went along pitching, but there's a lot I could improve.”
Angels manager Joe Maddon believes Ohtani can continue his two-way prowess and trusts him to come up with the right offseason plan. Maddon stated Ohtani, who is expected to remain in a six-man rotation in 2022, can be even better, especially if the Angels stay healthy as a team and can protect him in the lineup with fellow sluggers such as Trout, Anthony Rendon and Jared Walsh.
“I think it’s sustainable from both sides -- hitting and pitching,” Maddon said. “I'm really eager to get him back in the lineup with other guys around him that will protect him a little bit better. If he comes back ready like he did this year, you could probably add 40-50 innings if I'm counting the playoffs. And offensively, you can see a lot of what you saw this year, and with a better supporting cast, you might not see as much of a downturn."