It's long been speculated that Shohei Ohtani's days with the Angels could be numbered.
And, according to ESPN MLB insider Buster Olney, the two-way superstar's departure from Los Angeles could come to pass sooner rather than later.
With Ohtani slated for free agency after next season, the clock is ticking for him to sign an extension or the Angels to seek a trade, per Olney.
If the extension doesn't materialize, Olney believes Ohtani will be shipped out via trade by next year's trade deadline, or possibly as soon as this offseason.
"The Angels are going to approach him about a contract extension that probably will start with an annual salary of $50 million," Olney said on "Get Up" on Friday morning. "But, speaking with executives from other teams, they believe Ohtani will not sign with the Angels. They believe that he's going to get to free agency. And so, this winter will be the first time when the Angels have to seriously consider trading Ohtani. I think if they struggle next year, it either happens midsummer -- if they don't trade him this winter.
"One way or the other, I don't think Ohtani is going to get through 2023 with the Angels."
Olney's report comes as relatively little surprise after Ohtani surfaced in trade rumors ahead of this year's deadline. He ended up staying put in Los Angeles, but his looming availability -- either by trade or free agency -- is likely to spark a frenzied sweepstakes that will probably surpass the rampant speculation surrounding Juan Soto prior to the blockbuster trade that sent him from the Nationals to the Padres.
Ohtani's two-way dominance is virtually unprecedented in baseball history, at least in the modern era. His contributions on both the mound and at the plate make him seemingly invaluable, as reflected in the hefty $50 million annual salary floated by Olney, which would represent the biggest payday on a yearly basis in the game's long history.