ANAHEIM — Although the Angels took care of a significant piece of offseason business when they agreed to a $30 million, one-year deal with Shohei Ohtani last weekend, the larger item remains.
Ohtani is still set to be a free agent after the 2023 season, and he is due for a historic contract.
As Angels general manager Perry Minasian spoke about his plans for the offseason on Thursday, he offered little about Ohtani’s future except for the obvious.
“I’m never going to talk about negotiations, but I said it before and I’ll say it again, I’d love to have him here for a long time,” Minasian said.
A day earlier, Ohtani said it’s too early for him to even be thinking about his future beyond 2023.
One of the other questions about Ohtani and how he fits with the Angels in 2023 is whether they’d be willing to use him as part of a five-man rotation instead of a six-man rotation.
“I wouldn’t rule it out,” Minasian said. “But if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. There’s a balance there. Is the risk worth the reward?”
Although it certainly seems the Angels could be better if Ohtani could pitch at the same level, but more often, and also replace some of the starts from No. 6 starters, the Angels aren’t sure it would work that way. They don’t know if Ohtani – or even young pitchers like Patrick Sandoval, Reid Detmers and José Suarez – would pitch as well with less rest.
Minasian was definitive when asked about Ohtani pitching for Japan in the World Baseball Classic.
“I’m not standing in anybody’s way,” Minasian said. “Shohei has earned the right, if he wants to play, to go play.”
Minasian said they will take their time evaluating the coaching staff that will work under Phil Nevin, who has agreed to a one-year deal to return as manager.
“You need to take time and really go through it and do it the right way,” Minasian said. “You can’t rush anything.”
Former manager Joe Maddon had been talking for months about his issues with what he perceived to be interference from the front office while he was managing the Angels.
An excerpt of his new book was released on Thursday, and it included even more details about ways that Minasian and Assistant GM Alex Tamin encroached on Maddon’s job, in his opinion. Maddon described one instance in which Minasian called down to the dugout and instructed Maddon to remove Mike Trout, who Minasian said was hurt.
The incident led to a shouting match between Minasian and Maddon, according to the book.
“I’m not going to get into details,” Minasian said with a smile. “I enjoyed working with Joe. I felt like we had a really good relationship. He’s trying to sell books. I get it. I’m not going to go into anything further than that. … I wish nothing but the best for Joe. I hope he’s on the New York Times bestseller list.”
Minasian said he believes that first baseman Jared Walsh was playing hurt, leading to his disappointing performance. “I feel he wasn’t right all year,” Minasian said. An All-Star in 2021, Walsh hit .215 with a .642 OPS in 2022. …
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Minasian defended Max Stassi’s season, saying that the catcher should be given some credit for the Angels’ improved pitching. Stassi hit .180 with a .571 OPS. …
The Angels finished the season with no established closer, after they traded Raisel Iglesias to Atlanta at the deadline. Minasian said he appreciated the way Nevin mixed and matched with relievers over the final two months. He was noncommittal when asked if he would try to acquire an established closer for next year. …
Albert Pujols still has a 10-year personal services contract with the Angels, to begin after his retirement. Pujols, however, still needs to decide whether or not he wants to take that money to serve in that role. He is about to play in the postseason with the St. Louis Cardinals and then retire. Minasian said once Pujols is done, they will talk to him. “We’ll play it by ear and see what happens,” Minasian said, “but during the games, if he’s sitting next to me in the box, I’d be really excited.”