Has Shohei Ohtani played his last game in an Angels uniform? Los Angeles is on the verge of being eliminated from postseason contention, but fans hoping to at least see Ohtani get a proper sendoff in Anaheim are on edge after reports that the former MVP has cleared out his locker.
Ohtani is set to win his second MVP award in November, even after the final month of his season was marred by a UCL injury in his elbow and an oblique issue that has kept him out of the lineup for nearly two weeks. He has been a more productive hitter this season than he was in 2021, when he first was named AL MVP, posting a 1.066 OPS with 44 home runs in just 135 games.
Before the elbow injury took Ohtani off the mound, it was hard to argue with the results in that facet of the game, either. He went 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA and 167 strikeouts across 132 innings.
The remarkable three-year run is just missing a trip to the postseason, and despite a last-ditch effort at the trade deadline, the Angels couldn’t get there this season. Now, there are questions about Ohtani’s immediate future.
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Here are the latest updates on Ohtani’s status after his locker was cleared out on Friday.
What happened to Shohei Ohtani?
The Angels announced Saturday that Ohtani will miss the remainder of the season with an oblique injury. GM Perry Minasian is still expected to reveal more information when he speaks to reporters later in the day.
Angels announce Ohtani is going on the injured list and will miss the remainder of the regular season. Angels list the oblique as the reason.
— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) September 16, 2023
The Orange County Register’s Jeff Fletcher first reported Friday that Ohtani’s locker was cleared out. The Angels declined to explain the situation, telling reporters that they will give an update on Saturday.
Shohei Ohtani has cleared out his locker in the #Angels clubhouse.
The Angels say they will have no information on what has happened until tomorrow.
— Jeff Fletcher (@JeffFletcherOCR) September 16, 2023
According to Fletcher, “many of the shoes, bats and other personal items that have filled his locker throughout the season were gone,” with remaining items packed in an 2023 MLB All-Star Game bag.
Ohtani is dealing with an oblique injury on top of the UCL injury he was already playing through, but he was in the clubhouse on Friday and worked out before the game to see if he could play. Ohtani had been penciled into the Angels’ lineup on Monday but was scratched before the game. He hasn’t played since Sept. 3.
As Fletcher notes, it “would be standard for a player’s belongings to be cleaned out of his locker if he was done for the season,” so Ohtani could be shutting himself down ahead of free agency.
That the Angels are waiting to release information about the situation raises eyebrows, however. Fletcher reports that a player clearing out his locker typically occurs after an injury announcement is made.
With about two weeks left in the season and the Angels’ hopes dried up, it certainly seems Ohtani won’t be playing again this season. That might also mean the end of his time in Anaheim.
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Shohei Ohtani contract
Ohtani is making $30 million in the final year of his rookie contract. He and the Angels struck a deal to avoid arbitration in October, setting him up for free agency this winter.
It has long been assumed that Ohtani’s most likely landing spot would not be a return to the Angels, unless the organization could prove it was capable of putting a winning team on the field. That hasn’t happened, even despite the Angels’ best efforts, so the end of Ohtani’s season certainly could mean the end of his six-year stint in Anaheim.
What’s next for Ohtani if that’s the case? What was expected to be a colossal contract for the two-way star is a bit more uncertain with the likelihood that he won’t be able to pitch in 2024, but that isn’t likely to stop big-market teams from getting into a bidding war for his services.
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Ohtani is set to become a free agent the day after the World Series ends and can sign with a new team as early as five days after the World Series. Given the negotiations could be complicated, it figures to take much longer than that for Ohtani to find a home.