As the Angels are enjoying their first scheduled day off on a Sunday in their history, we take the opportunity to answer questions from fans.

It’s been a disappointing season for the Angels, who are 64-67 with 31 games remaining.

One of the bright spots was of course the historic performance by Shohei Ohtani. This begged the question of how the angels will hold him as he nears the eligibility for free agency.
Aside from that question, most of you wanted to know what the Angels can do to get back into the playoffs this winter.

Q: Is there a chance the Angels will sign Ohtani for an extension this off-season? Obviously he’s on the last of his two year plus arbitration contract, but I have to imagine that priority # 1 going forward is to get him banned. – @mynamesnotshort

A: Ohtani will be signed for $ 5.5 million for 2022 and will then be eligible to arbitrate in 2023 before starting freelance in 2024.

Given the fact that the Angels signed Mike Trout to renew than he had two years prior to his previous contract, it is reasonable to believe that this would be the winter for the Angels to get on a new deal to work for Ohtani.

Of course, Ohtani’s next deal will be for a ton of money. It’s hard to figure out how much, however, as there are no comps for him. Plus, it’s hard to say whether Ohtani will be comparing to himself in three, four, or five years. His value as a two-way player is different from his value as a hitter, which is different from his value as a pitcher.

While I have not yet received any indications from either side that negotiations have begun or that either side expects to reach an agreement at some point, my instinct is that the angels will not let Ohtani go free .

Albert Pujols’ deal will be off the books after this year and Justin Upton’s deal will be closed after 2022. As of 2023, the only major contracts they have are Trout and Anthony Rendon.

Of course, they could add another big deal this winter, but they could opt for shorter deals to save money for Ohtani.

It is sure to be one of the most interesting storylines for the next year.

Q: Do the Angels have to stay competitive (i.e. not fill up all season) for Shohei to get the MVP? I still read gossip about how voters prefer to pick an MVP out of a contender. Maybe staying at .500 could mitigate a bit of that – @ davidusc708

A: There are far fewer voters today than there were 10 years ago who put a lot of emphasis on team performance in the MVP vote.

Even for voters who still believe the MVP should come from a winning team, the unique and historic nature of Ohtani’s season could trump this.

I don’t have an MVP vote this year, but I would vote for Ohtani without hesitation. He is doing something that no one has done in 100 years.

The more interesting question is whether he can get involved in Cy Young’s race. (I have a vote for it.) His performance is among the best in the league, but his innings will lag behind the other contenders.

Q: What is the future for Justin Upton? Seems like (Jo) Adell, (Brandon) Marsh and (Mike) Trout the 22 outfielder and Ohtani will be back with DH. – @dgtedford

A: Based on Upton’s 2021 performance, his $ 28 million salary last year of his deal in 2022, and his no-trade clause, he is unlikely to be traded.

It would be quite risky for the Angels to just give him away, assuming that both Adell and Marsh will outdo him next year.

The perception is that Upton had a terrible season but he still has a .712 OPS. (Remember how hot he was a month before his last injury?) Adell has a .618 OPS and Marsh has a .745 OPS.

There’s nothing wrong with having four capable outfielders either, as we’ve all seen injuries hit the Angels.

Q: Given what we’ve seen of the younger players and their expanded looks and potential evolution, what do the Angels have to do to be contenders this off-season? – @jobalexang

A: As I’ve written many times, teams almost never go from bad to good just because of the players they win over the winter. Much of the improvement comes from the players who already have it.

So if the Angels are going to be dramatically better next season, it is likely because they have full, healthy and effective seasons with players like Trout, Rendon and pitcher Patrick Sandoval and improvements from young players like Adell and Marsh and Reid Detmers, Austin Warren, Elvis Peguero and José Marte have pitchers. Perhaps one of her other young pitchers – José Suarez, Jaime Barria and Griffin Canning – will also have a breakthrough.

There is a lot of room for improvement there, but you can also help yourself with external additions to the rotation and the bullpen itself. They’ll also need a short stop if they don’t sign José Iglesias again.

Q: What SP Free Agents do you see the Angels target in the off-season now that the Pujols contract is no longer on the books? – @ja_aquino

A: The Angels made inquiries last month to pick up Max Scherzer before the trading deadline, so you can assume they will go after him as a free agent too.

It’s not a great market for free agent starters this winter. There are a few top starters still in their prime: Marcus Stroman from the Mets and Kevin Gausman from the Giants.

Otherwise, there are a few Cy Young winners all looking for their final deal: Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers, Zack Greinke and Justin Verlander of the Astros, and Corey Kluber of the Yankees. These are all good names, but they are all past their prime.

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The rest of the group includes pitchers like Johnny Cueto from Giants, Danny Duffy from Dodgers, Yusei Kikuchi from Mariners, and Noah Syndergaard from Mets.

Q: Is it fun to see and report every game, or does it get stressful? – @ guillermo01904

A: When someone asks me what my favorite baseball team is, I say, “Whoever wins in the seventh inning.” Since I have to finish the first version of my story at the end of the game, it’s much more difficult if the lead changes in the ninth inning. That’s the only stress. Otherwise, I’m not trying to assume that my job is to cover baseball, which is something I’ve always wanted to do.

A: I like to think that people only joke when they get “mad” about it. And if they seriously believe that my tweets have an impact on the game, I can’t help them.
That being said, I firmly believe that mentioning the speed of a game is a surefire way to get a four hour game, or at least extra innings. This curse is real.