Shohei Ohtani thought ideal time for Angels to trade him was last season

If ever there was an ideal moment to swap with Shohei Ohtani, the two-way star said he thinks it’s by this year’s deadline.

“Even if I were the GM or owner, I would still consider this year to be the time to trade in for the biggest return,” the two-way star said in a recent interview in Japanese sports magazine Number. “If you look at the team long-term, I think there were a lot of opportunities for me to trade.

“In America, the image of the craft is 180 degrees different; It’s more business-like so I tried not to think about it,” he added after being asked how he feels about mid-season trade rumours.

Ohtani was not trading as of the August reporting date.

Asked how he would feel if he had to adjust to a new team after 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 that the team didn’t need me or didn’t like me. If anything, it showed they thought I had value.”

The Angels made moves on deadline day, sending starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard and left fielder Brandon Marsh to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for outfielder Mickey Moniak, top-catching prospects Logan O’Hoppe and outfield prospects Jadiel Sanchez.

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

Ohtani — the 2021 American League MVP who was named 2022 MVP finalist 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 feel like I want to win with the Angels,” Ohtani said. “I signed a contract with the Angels next year and right now I can’t see beyond the future of my Angels.”

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 in for a team that can win after all the losses the Angels have endured, he said: “You don’t know what kind of team is going to win. There are many ways to win. … There is no one right way. But the teams I could go to are being shrunk. Next year I’ll get $30 million and I think there’s a limited number of teams that can invest that much money in one player.

“The teams that a high-paying player can go to will always be limited, and in many cases the player will have to go to a team that doesn’t care about the luxury tax.”

Angels' Shohei Ohtani plays against the Oakland Athletics.

Angels’ Shohei Ohtani plays the Oakland Athletics on October 5 in Oakland.

(Godofredo A. Vasquez / Associated Press)

Ohtani’s name has been circling the rumor mill at the start of 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 postponing him. Ohtani isn’t moving,” Minasian said at GM meetings at the Conrad Hotel. “He will be here to start the season. I know there have been rumors and all sorts of things but he will be part of the club. We love the player and I think the goal is for him to stay here for a long time.”

Angels owner Arte Moreno announced at the end of the season that he had hired a company to begin exploring selling the team. That process, Minasian reiterated Monday, has not affected his ability to continue doing his job. He said he “wouldn’t rule out anything” in terms of extra time with Ohtani or any other player.

When asked if it was his decision not to move Ohtani, Minasian said: “At the end of the day, it’s a question of ownership. But I make the recommendations and I think everyone is on the same page. Easy player not to move.”

In terms of building a winning team, Minasian said he believes the Angels aren’t far away, but that they aren’t just a player away.

“We have a lot of holes to fill,” Minasian said. “It’s really, really important to lift the floor to some degree and lift the floor not with minor league talent but with major league talent.”

Ohtani was also critical of the way the Angels played this season, which Minasian said didn’t surprise him, especially towards the end of the year.

“I wouldn’t expect him to be happy with the season,” Minasian said. “The guy is a winner at everything he does. … For him there is respect for this organization and respect for him and what he does on a daily basis.” Shohei Ohtani thought ideal time for Angels to trade him was last season

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