Should the Los Angeles Angels lose two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani to another team via free agency this offseason, as is expected, their only solace will be a compensatory draft pick. That's the result of the Angels' tendering a qualifying offer to Ohtani and Ohtani's subsequent rejection of it. Now, at least, the Angels' pick will be a better one thanks to their reported luxury-tax status for the 2023 season.
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Angels were able to come in just under the threshold of the luxury tax – officially and misleadingly known as the Competitive Balance Tax – for this past season. That, as Rosenthal writes, means a better pick for the loss of Ohtani:
"As a result, the Angels' draft-pick compensation if they lose Shohei Ohtani as a free agent will be a selection after the second round, in the range of No. 70 overall. Exceeding the threshold would have pushed the pick back until after the fourth round, in the range of No. 140 overall."
To be sure, that doesn't come close to making up for even a sliver of what losing Ohtani will mean both on the field, at the turnstiles, and in terms of local-television ratings, but it's something.
On another, lesser level, the Angels' being under the line means that owner Arte Moreno won't have to pay an overage fee for his club's 2023 payroll. In large measure, the Angels and GM Perry Minasian were able to achieve this by placing a bevy of veterans on waivers in late August. In all, six vets – Lucas Giolito, Randal Grichuk, Dominic Leone, Reynaldo López, Matt Moore, and Hunter Renfroe – wound up being claimed by other teams. While the Angels didn't get anything in return since the trade deadline had already passed, they were able to shed the remaining salary commitments for those players.
It marked a surprising pivot by the Angels, as Giolito, López, Grichuk, and Leone were all deadline additions last season as the team angled to contend down the stretch drive of Ohtani's walk year. It didn't work: the Halos went just 8-19 for the month of August and all but ensured yet another failed season. That led to those waiver decisions, which in turn led to their getting under the tax threshold and improving their still exceedingly nominal return when and if Ohtani lands elsewhere.
Speaking of landing elsewhere, the Dodgers, Giants, Cubs, and Blue Jays seem to be the leading contenders for Ohtani's services at this juncture. The Angels, however, remain at least theoretically in the mix.