Ohtani: I like playing for Angels, but 'I want to win'
“I really like the team. I love the fans. I love the atmosphere of the team,” Ohtani said through his interpreter, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. “But, more than that, I want to win. That’s the biggest thing for me. I’ll leave it at that.”
The Angels are 74-82 and sitting in a distant fourth place in the NL West entering the final week of the season. They haven't reached the postseason since 2014, and the club hasn't won a playoff game since the 2009 ALCS.
The lack of success in 2021 can't be attributed to Ohtani, who has hit .258 with a 1.005 OPS and 45 home runs while going 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA and 156 strikeouts across 130 1/3 innings on the mound.
Mike Trout, a three-time MVP who missed most of this season with a strained calf, has previously echoed Ohtani's desire to win. Likewise, manager Joe Maddon has expressed the franchise's need to add multiple top starting pitchers this offseason to address the roster's most glaring weakness.
With Trout and third baseman Anthony Rendon expected to be ready for Opening Day and hitters like Jo Adell, Brandon Marsh, and Jared Walsh coming into their own, the team's offensive core could be set. The rotation remains a question mark, especially as starters Alex Cobb and Dylan Bundy hit free agency this winter.
Ohtani, 27, is set to earn $5.5 million in 2022 before being eligible for arbitration the following year. He's slated to hit free agency after the 2023 campaign.