Shohei Ohtani’s agent says he’s focused on 2023 season with Angels

Shohei Ohtani and his agent Nez Balelo are focused on 2023. Anything beyond next season with the Angels remains to be seen.

“We didn’t really think about it because we just focused on the one year that we got and we did that,” CAA’s Balelo said after being asked during Tuesday’s general manager meetings if they are open to holding extension talks during spring training or mid-season. “To be honest, that’s our main focus.

“Now that we’ve got that behind us, we’re happy with the one-year deal and we’re just going to focus on that now.”

Balelo declined to elaborate on whether extension talks have taken place.

Asked about Ohtani’s comments in a recent article in Numbers, a Japanese sports magazine, that not every team can afford a lucrative salary for a player, Balelo said: “In general, I think that’s what he’s going for in the end the year decides. I think it will be an exciting time. Not knowing exactly what you are referring to in the Numbers article and which teams can afford it and which teams can’t. I think all 30 teams want to compete in their own way. … So I wouldn’t exclude anyone on whether or not they can afford a salary.

“But look, that’s a long way away. We do not know it. We can think of agency, we can’t think of agency, but one thing we do know: that 23 he’ll be an angel. We’ll play through it. We will enjoy it. And take a year off each one. And that has always been our philosophy.”

Ohtani signed a one-year deal worth $30 million before the end of the 2022 season.

Balelo said it was a joint decision with the Angels to go through with this deal, which allowed Ohtani to avoid arbitration – something other players in the Angels clubhouse said would have been interesting had Ohtani gone into arbitration. Balelo said it would have been unprecedented if Ohtani had reached arbitration.

At the start of this off-season, there were rumors that despite signing this contract, Ohtani could still be treated. Angels general manager Perry Minasian said Monday that Ohtani would not be traded and would start the season with the Angels.

Angels' Shohei Ohtani plays against the Oakland Athletics.

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

(Godofredo A. Vasquez / Associated Press)

He doubled down this Tuesday stating that Ohtani is an angel; that “we want him to wear this uniform for a long time”; and again that “we don’t like the player, we love him.”

Ohtani can become a free agent after the 2023 season unless he signs an extension with the Angels. The Angels could also sign him in free agency.

The Angels face multiple questions after another lost season and a potential change of ownership. The most important among them was Ohtani’s future after 2023.

“I guess we’ll just have to wait and see who the new ownership group is,” Balelo said. “It’s been very quiet so we don’t know what’s going on. But it’s none of our business. It’s Arte [Moreno] and his wife and the rest of the organization’s affairs. Not ours.”

As for Ohtani’s off-season, he flew back to Japan at the end of October. He has not yet decided whether he will play for his home country at the World Baseball Classic, although the Angels have given him their blessing.

Minasian for trout

Mike Trout has dedicated most, if not all, of his career to the Angels – after signing a 12-year extension in 2019. Still, the American League’s three-times most valuable player has only played in one postseason, and that was 2014.

When asked if Minasian feels he needs to convince Trout of the team’s direction, the GM said, “I know there’s a narrative: Shohei and Trout to the playoffs, but it’s an organization. It’s everyone. We want to be competitive, we want to make the playoffs. We want to play postseason games. I want our players to experience that in our stadium.”

Trout endorsed the GM at the end of last season and said he trusts Minasian and the front office to build a successful team. Shohei Ohtani’s agent says he’s focused on 2023 season with Angels

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