Leading Major League Baseball after crushing his 29th home run of the season — and 14th in the month of June — on Thursday in a 9-7 loss to the White Sox, Shohei Ohtani now hold the record for most homers in a month by a member of the Los Angeles Angels, beating out himself (June 2021), Albert Pujols (June 2015) and Tim Salmon (June 1996).
“He wows you every day with all the records and everything coming our way,” Angels manager Phil Nevin said. “He’s just such a talent. It’s fun to watch.”
Nevin has had the privilege of managing the two-way Japanese superstar since last season, but he may not have the same good fortune he’s enjoyed this year and last as Ohtani will be a free agent once 2023 is over and can sign with whatever MLB team he wants. He’ll have no shortage of suitors, but three’s realistically only a few teams that will pay able to afford the $500 million contract he’s projected to command.
The Angels, of course, will try to retain Ohtani and there’s a chance he will stay with the Halos. However, that may hinge on whether the Angels, who are 44-39, and in third place in the American League West, can actually qualify for the playoffs — something they’ve been unable to do in Ohtani’s five completed MLB seasons, and all but one of superstar Mike Trout’s 11.
If this sixth Ohtani season turns out differently, perhaps he’ll allow the Angels to make him a Half-Billion-Dollar Man. If not, he may look to secure his mountain of green in greener pastures.
Watch How Japanese Fans Treat Shohei Ohtani’s Home Run BallMost polite spectators in the world? We could learn a thing or two.
Other teams besides the Angels that have previously been linked with Ohtani include the New York Mets, San Diego Padres, New York Yankees, Seattle Mariners, San Francisco Giants, Texas Rangers, Chicago Cubs and L.A. Dodgers.
In a fresh piece from The New York Post, longtime MLB insider Jon Heyman narrows the list of potential landing spots for the 28-year-old slugger/ace to just two destinations besides staying with the Angels. One of them is L.A. with the Dodgers. The other is San Francisco with the Giants.
Heyman sums it up like this: “The Dodgers cleared financial room and are the most consistent winners. The Angels intend to try to re-sign him, although they may need to show Ohtani they can make the playoffs. The Giants have the $360M left from the Aaron Judge and Carlos Correa pursuits and are in excellent shape financially (and maybe in even better shape with the A’s almost sure to be leaving for Las Vegas).” He added that there’s belief around the game that Ohtani wants to stay on the West Coast because it is closer to his native Japan than other, inland U.S. cities with MLB teams.
It’s a tough blow for New Yorkers who were hoping Ohtani might be heading to the Bronx or Queens, but it’s good news for California baseball fans who are dreaming of Ohtani staying in the Golden State in 2024 and beyond.