The Angels have already gotten a head start on some notable offseason business, both regarding the roster and its clubhouse leadership. In recent days, the Halos both avoided arbitration with the reigning AL MVP and finalized their managerial situation heading into 2023.
Over the weekend, the club and two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani agreed to a $30M salary for next season. The one-year pact avoided the possibility of what would’ve been the most fascinating arbitration case ever, with no clear precedent for a player of Ohtani’s talents. The sides won’t need to go anywhere near a hearing room, though, with the two-time All-Star instead agreeing to the largest salary for an arbitration-eligible player in big league history.
While the Halos are surely relieved to have Ohtani’s case settled, there are still plenty of questions about his long-term future in Orange County. The 2023 campaign is the final year in which he’s under club control, and Los Angeles heads into the winter coming off another disappointing season. General manager Perry Minasian met with reporters this afternoon (links via Sam Blum of the Athletic and Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register), and while he didn’t offer any specifics about Ohtani’s situation, he unsurprisingly indicated he’d be thrilled to keep him beyond next season. “I think it’s Step 1,” Minasian said of avoiding arbitration. “Hopefully there are more steps down the road. … I’d love to have him here for a long time.”
That’s obviously not a firm declaration about Ohtani’s future, but it stands to reason Minasian and his staff will look to engage his reps at CAA at some point over the winter. They’ll surely receive calls from other teams inquiring about his availability in trade as well. The Halos obviously would’ve received ample interest in Ohtani at this past deadline, but owner Arte Moreno reportedly quashed any potential for a deal early in the process. Not long thereafter, Moreno announced he was looking into the possibility of selling the franchise.
Minasian told reporters he wasn’t aware of the status of the sales process, little surprise since he’s not involved in that decision. Asked whether it’d impact the club’s budget, the front office leader largely demurred. Minasian noted that ownership “still wants to put a good team on the field” and “is really competitive” but didn’t reveal any specifics about the franchise’s 2023 payroll outlook. The Halos opened the 2022 season with a player payroll north of $188M, a franchise record figure, per Cot’s Baseball Contracts. They already have roughly $133M committed to next year’s books, in the estimation of Roster Resource. That’s before accounting for an arbitration class that includes Luis Rengifo, Jared Walsh and Super Two qualifiers Taylor Ward and Patrick Sandoval.
Working in the Halos favor, however, is that Minasian and his group aren’t faced with the losses of too many key contributors. Aside from Kurt Suzuki, who has already announced his retirement, the Halos stand to see Michael Lorenzen, Matt Duffy and Archie Bradley hit the open market. Lorenzen is the only member of that group who was relatively effective this year. Signed to a $6.75MM free agent deal, he pitched to a 4.24 ERA across 18 starts. Minasian suggested they could look to retain him via free agency, although he also noted the team wasn’t firmly committed to redeploying a six-man rotation again next season. The Halos have run with a six-man staff in recent years, in part to reduce the workload Ohtani has to shoulder on the mound. “I wouldn’t rule it out,” the GM said of a five-man rotation. “But if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. There’s a balance there. Is the risk worth the reward?”
Minasian also addressed the coaching staff, noting that the club is still evaluating whether to make changes in that area. Phil Nevin will be back as skipper after signing a one-year deal yesterday, but it’s to be determined whether his staff will remain in place. Asked about the short term of Nevin’s first permanent managerial contract, Minasian said the club will “(see) where it goes next year and (go) from there, but my hope and my expectation is that this is a long-term thing.” Of course, the long-term future of the organization will be determined in large part by the direction any incoming ownership group plans to take. Jon Heyman of the New York Post suggests the franchise sale price could run as high as $2.5 billion, although the identities of the groups currently in talks with Moreno and his staff haven’t been publicly reported.