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Angels News: Shohei Ohtani heading to arbitration hearing

Shohei Ohtani, Los Angelese (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Shohei Ohtani, Los Angelese (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The Angels and Shohei Ohtani did not come to a contract agreement for the upcoming season, forcing an arbitration hearing.

Five of the six arbitration-eligible players for the Angels have agreed to contracts following yesterday’s deadline. The only player who the team did not come to terms with: Shohei Ohtani.

Angels Arbitration Eligible Player Deals:

  • Catcher Max Stassi-$1.6 million
  • LHP Andrew Heaney-$6.75 million
  • RHP Mike Mayers-$1.2 million
  • RHP Felix Peña-$1.1 million
  • RHP Dylan Bundy-$8.325 million

Ohtani made $259K (pro-rated) last season and asked for $3.3 million for 2021, to which the Angels countered with $2.5 million. The remaining $800K is holding this deal up, but general manager Perry Minasian is trusting in the process which will likely take place sometime next month.

"“Both sides agree he deserves a raise,” Minasian said. “Just how much is the question. We weren’t able to come to an agreement but at the end of the day that’s why this process is in place.”"

This is a normal occurrence in Major League Baseball and is where the term “under team-control” comes from. Before players test free agency, they go through the arbitration phases with their team, usually for the first few seasons. If a player and their team do not come to a salary agreement before the deadline (yesterday), then both sides go to a hearing. The arbitrators then rule in favor of the player or team. Ohtani is arbitration-eligible until the 2024 season.

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The two-way star had a set-back both at the plate and on the mound last season. Ohtani posted a .190/.291/.366 slash line to go along with seven home runs and 24 RBIs.

As a pitcher, Ohtani lasted just 1.2 innings in his two starts where he gave up seven runs and walked eight batters. Part of his struggles was attributed to a grade 1-2 forearm strain, which prompted the Angels to shut down his pitching for the season. Ohtani also required Tommy John surgery after 10 starts in the 2018 season.

I think Joe Maddon should commit to using Ohtani as a position player permanently.  The wear and tear of a 162-game season is enough for just one position alone, I think relying on the former Rookie of the Year as a starting pitcher and hitter is asking too much.

Ohtani is still just 26-years old, but it would be a crime if his talent is wasted to injuries. I understand his big appeal and the main reason he was signed was for being a two-way talent, but there comes a point where the organization needs to face the reality.

We see it all the time in baseball where players make the transition to left field. The position is considered the weakest amongst the outfield spots. It wouldn’t be easy, but Ohtani has enough outfield experience where he can play in left if necessary, moving Justin Upton to right field.

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Regardless of his position, Minasian and the Angels need to have a general idea of what Ohtani will be paid following his hearing. With an up-to-date estimation of the payroll, they can budget for the remaining team needs this offseason.

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