The Angels said they have decided not to deal the two-way superstar, a morning after making a significant move that signaled they are in win-now mode and five days before the MLB trade deadline.
“We’re going to roll the dice and see what happens,” Angels general manager Perry Minasian told reporters in Detroit before a doubleheader against the Tigers on Thursday in which Ohtani will start Game 1 on the mound.
Ohtani will be a free agent in the offseason. Even though the franchise risks losing the 29-year-old slugger and starting pitcher on an open market where he could command $500 million, it is motivated to make its first playoff appearance in his six major league seasons.
Another factor in the decision, a source told ESPN on Wednesday, was that the Angels have been underwhelmed by the players offered in return for Ohtani.
Sources have said Ohtani would prefer to stay with the Angels for the stretch run and that owner Arte Moreno would have no shot to bring him back as a free agent if he were to trade Ohtani to another team.
“I love Shohei Ohtani,” Minasian said. “He comes in, prepares, works, goes out and performs on a nightly basis. Obviously, does both [hitting and pitching]. He’s a great teammate. He takes this really seriously. He eats it. He sleeps it.
“He’s somebody that we would love to have going forward.”
The Angels entered Thursday four games back for the final wild-card berth in the American League after winning six of their past seven games.
Ohtani, the 2021 AL MVP, leads the majors in home runs and OPS at the plate and is among the leaders in opponent batting average and strikeouts on the mound.
Aiming to bolster their chances of reaching the postseason for the first time since 2014, the Angels acquired right-handers Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo López from the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday night for a pair of top prospects.
The Angels are desperately hoping to get rid of their reputation for wasting the talents of MVPs Mike Trout and Ohtani. Moreno’s club has the majors’ longest streaks of consecutive losing seasons (seven) and consecutive non-playoff seasons (eight, tied with Detroit).
Keeping Ohtani on the team gives the Angels the chance to do just that.
“I never went up to Shohei and said, ‘Hey, we’re not trading you,'” Minasian said. “Think I made it pretty clear the last time we talked, I think, that he wasn’t going anywhere. I don’t know if anybody believed me.”
ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez and The Associated Press contributed to this report.