Ohtani open to longterm talks with Angels in offseason

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
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SEATTLE – Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani said Sunday he is “very open” to negotiating a longterm contract with the club this offseason.

Ohtani spoke before the Angels’ regular-season finale in Seattle. Ohtani could have pitched on turn on the final day of the season, but opted to skip his final start. He was the designated hitter and leading off in the Angels lineup for the last game of a possible MVP season.

“Of course I’ll be very open to negotiation. I mean the team is supporting me for this whole four years and I’m really appreciative of that,” Ohtani said through an interpreter. “Whether or not there’s any contracts extensions I just want to, like I said earlier, be ready and be ready for next season.”

Ohtani is finishing his fourth season with the Angels and is signed to an $8.5 million, two-year contract that pays $5.5 million next year in its final season. He is eligible for salary arbitration after the 2022 season and free agency following the 2023 season, if the rules do not change following the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement on Dec. 1.

Ohtani entered the final day as the presumptive leader in the AL MVP race after going 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA in 23 starts on the mound, and hitting 45 home runs at the plate.

“I was really happy to get through the season without any injuries,” Ohtani said. “And honestly, I wish I could have done a season like this a little earlier. This is my fourth year so I think it took a little too long.”

But the team performance on the field hasn’t matched Ohtani’s aspirations when he arrived from Japan’s Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fightersin 2018. The Angels will finish in fourth place in the AL West for the fourth straight season, besieged by injuries to Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon. Los Angeles has yet to post a record above .500 since Ohtani arrived.

“I think the biggest thing is the guys that we have right now we need to have an offseason so we can stay healthy the whole next year so we could compete,” Ohtani said. “Any addition during the offseason, I mean I’ll be looking forward to seeing all the additions that they’re going to make.”

Astros star Altuve has surgery on broken thumb, a WBC injury

Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Astros star Jose Altuve had surgery Wednesday on his broken right thumb, an injury that occurred in the World Baseball Classic and will significantly delay the second baseman’s 2023 debut.

The Astros announced that the 32-year-old Altuve had the procedure done in Houston and will stay there to begin his rehabilitation, with only one week left in spring training. The Astros will fly there on Sunday following their final Grapefruit League game in Florida, before playing a pair of exhibitions against their Triple-A team, the Sugar Land Space Cowboys, in Texas.

Altuve was hit by a pitch on Saturday while playing for Venezuela in the WBC. He might not be ready to return to the lineup until at least late May. The eight-time All-Star and 2017 American League MVP batted .300 with 103 runs, 28 homers and 18 steals for the World Series champion Astros last season. Mauricio Dubón and David Hensley are the leading candidates to fill in for Altuve at second base.

Altuve isn’t the only Major League Baseball star who was hurt in WBC play, of course. Mets closer Edwin Díaz will miss the 2023 season because of a torn patellar tendon in his right knee as the freak result of an on-field celebration following a WBC win by the Puerto Rico national team.


The Astros also scratched right-hander Hunter Brown from his scheduled start Wednesday against the Mets in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

Manager Dusty Baker told reporters that Brown, who is ranked by MLB as the organization’s top prospect and competing for the last spot in the rotation, has discomfort in his lower back.


The New York Mets sent catcher Francisco Álvarez to Triple-A Syracuse, quashing for now the possibility of putting the prized 21-year-old on the opening day roster.

Álvarez, who made his major league debut with the Mets near the end of last season, had just three hits in 28 at-bats in Grapefruit League exhibition games. Ranked by MLB as the third-best prospect in baseball, Álvarez batted .260 with 27 homers and 78 RBIs in a combined 112 minor league games in 2022 at Double-A and Triple-A.

The Mets have newcomer Omar Narváez, a 2021 All-Star with the Milwaukee Brewers, as their primary catcher with Tomás Nido likely to play mostly against left-handed pitchers.

Speaking of the Mets, Díaz turned 29 on Wednesday – a rather subdued milestone for the right-hander considering his situation. Diaz nonetheless posted in Spanish an upbeat message on his Twitter account, thanking God for another year of life and describing his health as good and his outlook as positive in this initial stage of the roughly eight-month rehabilitation process.