No matter what the future holds for the marriage between the LA Angels and Shohei Ohtani, there is only one thing that cannot happen.
If the Angels are going to get outbid for his services, do not throw him a lowball offer.
Now, that sets up a lose-lose proposition.
If the Angels lose Ohtani for nothing, that would create a black eye that would stick to the franchise for years (and probably decades) to come. A lowball contract extension would look just as bad, if not worse.
Both scenarios come with mounds of criticism and accusations of incompetence. Both would act as a backhand slap to the fans, players, and staff. It would come down to which would be the lesser of two cruddy options, but at least the latter leaves room for interpretation that maybe the Angels knew they had no shot.
ESPN MLB insider Buster Olney has recently suggested that the dollar amount will be in the nine-figure range and start with a five or even a six.
Having the best players on your team guarantees you nothing. Neither does spending the most money. But this is where the Angels decide whether they want to be a big market team or not. Decisions like this are what separate different “market size” franchises and what they are able to do.
For all we know, Shohei might want a change of scenery. We do not know what his priorities are.
If his days in Anaheim are numbered, that has to be the reason. Make him tell you “Thanks, but no thanks”.
The best-case scenario would be for Ohtani to want to stay in Anaheim. Even if he is on the fence, make the decision to turn down an extension a difficult one.