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Former Angels Manager Believes Shohei Ohtani 'Will Go Anywhere' to Win

Will that place be Anaheim?

The Angels' 2023 season went similarly to their past decade of play with both a losing record and their ninth straight postseason absence. 

Halos' two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani now enters free agency once more and his former manager believes he's got one mindset for his baseball future.

Joe Maddon joined the Foul Territory show this week and shared his thoughts on Shohei's upcoming trip through the open market.

"You work very hard to get to this particular juncture in your a professional career," Maddon said of Ohtani reaching free agency , "and the rules are set up for him to do that. ... He does want to win, and believe me, that's not just lip service, he truly wants to win. I do believe that he's going to go to a team that in his mind's eye could be an annual contender. Annually get him to the playoffs. Annually give him that opportunity to pitch and hit on the largest stage."

"The other point that I believe is that when he first got over here, he wanted to be on the west coast because it's closer to Japan, obviously, and possibly more cultural similarities as opposed to different parts of the country. After being through the league several times and after all the successes he's had, I believe that he'll go anywhere from New York to Toronto to Seattle, to San Diego, whatever he'll go anywhere because I think he's been more Americanized in the sense that he's comfortable with a lot of different things -- he knows how this works."

Via Foul Territory TV

Ohtani still hasn't seen a winning record during his six-year career let alone a single meaningful game in October thanks to the Angels' ineptitude. 

Injuries plagued 2018's AL Rookie of the Year and he underwent Tommy John surgery that kept him off the mound for 2019. 

Ohtani was once again bit the injury bug in 2020 as the team missed the postseason despite a pricey acquisition of Anthony Rendon to join the Japanese icon and franchise cornerstone Mike Trout. 

Several analysts questioned Ohtani's two-way future after the pandemic season but it was Maddon who doubled down on such a possibility. 

The proverbial training wheels removed as the baseball world saw just how dominant a healthy Ohtani could be. 

Three straight seasons of 9 WAR, two likely MVP awards, three straight All-Star nods and a World Baseball Classic MVP only touch the surface of the unicorn's insane three-year run. 

2023 ended in both elbow and oblique injuries for the superstar but his free-agent market should still be quite significant. 

New York and their deep pockets thanks to owner Steve Cohen will be quite the destination alongside his countryman Kodai Senga should Ohtani choose Queens. 

A postseason absence for the Mets in 2023 may derail such a thought for a win-or-nothing mentality that Ohtani clearly expressed. 

The cross-town rival Dodgers also will be heavily interested in Ohtani as the perennial NL West champion and 100-game winners they are. 

However, their disappointing postseason may sidetrack Ohtani to another location as well. 

Even without his pitching ability in 2024, several teams should be in on baseball's biggest free agent ever this winter.