The Los Angeles Angels aren’t hiding that they’re chasing victories both to earn a spot in the playoffs and to potentially convince two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani to stick around.
“We need to win,” Angels outfielder Taylor Ward recently admitted, per long-time MLB writer John Perrotto of Forbes. “Shohei wants to win. Everyone knows that. Obviously, we want to keep him here and the best way to do that is to win and prove to him that this is the ballclub that he should be on, the team he should be on both on the mound and in the box. I just think just going through throughout the year that he needs to see we have a good clubhouse and are doing everything we can to win.”
Slugger Mike Trout offered similar comments before the season and after agent Nez Balelo essentially confirmed Ohtani will test free agency following the campaign. Since that time, Ohtani earned World Baseball Classic Most Valuable Player honors and got on track to win the American League MVP Award for the second time since 2021.
As of Friday afternoon, OddsChecker listed the 28-year-old as the overwhelming betting favorite at -105 odds to claim his second career AL MVP crown.
“He’s the one and only,” Ward said of his current teammate. “There is nobody else like him. Not even close.”
The Angels and Detroit Tigers are tied for the league’s longest active postseason drought that began after the 2014 season. 23-22 Los Angeles entered Friday trailing the first-place Texas Rangers by only four games in the AL West standings.
It’s long been thought Ohtani wishes to remain on the West Coast, and he’s routinely linked in reports and rumors with the Los Angeles Dodgers. While Ward admitted that “we’d like to have a little bit better record” heading into the weekend, he added he believes the Angels have the right mindset to win the World Series this fall.
Even if that’s the case, it doesn’t mean Angels owner Arte Moreno will pay the more than $600M Ohtani could earn in free agency to hold onto MLB’s true unicorn.