Angels’ Nate Smith to miss 2018 season

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Angels’ left-hander Nate Smith will miss the entire 2018 season following anterior capsule surgery, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reported Saturday. Smith underwent the surgery in September, but will still need an estimated 12-14 months to make a full recovery.

Surgery was a predictable end to a frustrating season for the 26-year-old lefty, who logged just 15 innings between rookie ball and Triple-A Salt Lake City in 2017. He made one start for Salt Lake in May, tossing 5 2/3 innings of one-hit, four-strikeout ball before getting demoted to the Arizona League in June. The Angels’ southpaw hasn’t seen a full season of work since 2016, which was also cut short when he suffered a bout of left elbow tendinitis in September.

Smith is the fifth-best pitching prospect in the Angels’ farm system, per MLB.com, and ninth overall. His anticipated return date is set for sometime in 2019 — though his agent, Jonathan Maurer, hasn’t ruled out a possible 2018 assignment — which should bump 19-year-old southpaw Cole Duensing up several spots as the Angels’ highest-rated left-handed pitching prospect.

Shohei Ohtani agrees to $30 million deal for 2023 with Angels

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shohei Ohtani agreed to a $30 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels for the 2023 season in the two-way superstar’s final year of arbitration eligibility before free agency.

The Angels announced the deal, avoiding a potentially complicated arbitration case with the 2021 AL MVP.

Ohtani’s deal is fully guaranteed, with no other provisions. The contract is the largest ever given to an arbitration-eligible player, surpassing the $27 million given to Mookie Betts by the Boston Red Sox in January 2020, a month before he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Ohtani is having another incredible season at the plate and on the mound for the Angels, regularly accomplishing feats that haven’t occurred in the major leagues since Babe Ruth’s heyday. He is a strong contender for the AL MVP award again alongside the Yankees’ Aaron Judge, who has tied the AL home run record and is closing in on the batting Triple Crown.

Ohtani is batting .276 with 34 homers, 94 RBIs and a .888 OPS as the Halos’ designated hitter. He is 15-8 with a 2.35 ERA and 213 strikeouts as their ace on the mound, and opponents are batting only .207 against him.

The 28-year-old Ohtani still will be a free agent after the 2023 season, and his future could be tied to the immediate fortunes of the Angels, who will complete their seventh consecutive losing season next week. The Angels didn’t trade Ohtani at the deadline despite being out of the playoff race again, and Ohtani is wildly popular among the club’s fans.

Ohtani repeatedly has said winning will be an important factor in choosing his home beyond 2023, and Angels owner Arte Moreno is currently exploring a sale of the team.

Moreno’s leadership has been widely criticized during the Angels’ mostly miserable run of play since 2009, and a fresh start with deep-pocketed new owners could be the best chance to persuade Ohtani to stay with the franchise he joined in 2018 from Japan. Ohtani immediately won the AL Rookie of the Year award, and he rounded into unique form last season after recovering fully from Tommy John surgery.