May 27, 2024

Angels general manager Perry Minasian declined to discuss the team’s conversations with their former two-way star Shohei Ohtani and whether they even made him a formal offer in free agency. Minasian declined to say how close the Angels were to re-signing Ohtani or provide any clarity about the Angels’ conversations with Ohtani’s team.

“I don’t discuss negotiations,” Minasian said repeatedly.

He added: “Shohei, what he did here the last three years specifically, he was an unbelievable player. Congratulate him on his deal and wish him nothing but the best.”

Minasian offered generalizations about what the Angels would do next about their pitching rotation and designated hitter position. At the end of a less than 16-minute session, with most of the questions revolving around Ohtani, Minasian — who spoke to reporters for the first time since the last day of winter meetings on Dec. 6 — signaled little about the Angels’ path forward after Ohtani.

The Times’ Jack Harris reported Thursday that Angels owner Arte Moreno was unwilling to match the Dodgers’ 10-year, $700 million offer to Ohtani. So far this offseason, the Angels have signed three smaller major league contracts for three relievers, Adam Kolarek, Luis García and Adam Cimber, and traded away infielder David Fletcher and catcher Max Stassi. Of the three player pickups, García’s contract was the highest value at $4.25 million.

Asked how confident he was about ownership’s willingness to spend to improve the roster, Minasian said: “I’ve said this since day one, this is a group that wants to win, right? Financially, what ownership’s committed over the years, I think it says that. We’re going to make this team better this offseason. I know it’s still early from a market standpoint of what’s available.”

As for what the team would do at DH, there was no concrete answer. Minasian listed several options for what was possible at the position, such as putting another bona fide slugger in the spot or using it as a way to get players time off their feet.

“We’ve discussed pretty much every scenario possible over the last eight, 10 weeks to where we’re ready for this moment to end,” Minasian said. “We’ll see how the rest of the offseason goes.”

The offseason has been slow in terms of major league player acquisitions for the Angels. Minasian said it was “hard to say” whether that might start picking up with Ohtani having made his decision.

“I think we’ve seen great players sign right before spring training, right at the beginning of spring training,” Minasian said. “So, just depends on the player and the specific agent and how their market is. But we’ll keep tabs on everybody. … We’re definitely looking to improve this club.”

Angels pitching struggled in 2023, ranking in the lower third in the majors in ERA (4.64, 23rd) and opponent batting average (.252, 22nd). The Ohtani-led rotation, specifically, ranked 19th with a 4.47 ERA and 11th with a .243 opponent batting average.

Ohtani will not pitch again until 2025 after having a second elbow surgery in September. So the Angels would have needed to figure out their pitching situation even if Ohtani had returned. Minasian declined to say whether the Angels are interested in incoming Japanese pitchers Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Shota Imanaga.

How many starting pitchers Minasian plans to add, Minasian said, is less “about the number and more about who it is and what they bring.” As for how much of a priority Minasian makes for addressing the Angels’ pitching, he said, “Yeah, it’s definitely a priority.” He also spoke of the team’s hitters and added a vote of confidence to the pitchers who started for the Angels in 2023 to have a better 2024.

“Whether it’s the rotation, bullpen, I think we can use help in both areas,” Minasian said. “Lineup-wise we have a lot of flexibility with the players we have. … I think that gives you versatility, which is really important for us.

“So we’re gonna look for specific players that fit us and what we want to be about,” Minasian said, adding later, “We have high expectations internally with the players we have, especially the rotation. … But we do need to add pieces to help this club.”

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