Shohei Ohtani is the best player in baseball. That is not up for dispute. He’s doing things no one has ever done in this game. And yet, the Angels can’t get out of their own way. Anaheim is 42-57 and going nowhere. Mike Trout has a rare back injury and Anthony Rendon — not embracing that Hollywood Lifestyle — is out for the season.
It has been a disaster 30 miles south on I-5, and because of that (and Ohtani’s pending free agency after 2023), the Angels are, reportedly, open to trading him.
It’s about time, but I wouldn’t get too excited, Dodger fans.
Arte Moreno really dislikes the Dodgers. He even went so far as to co-opt “Los Angeles” in his team’s name, because that makes sense. He reportedly nixed the trade that would have seen the Angels acquire Andy Pages, Joc Pederson and Ross Stripling for Luis Rengifo and (rumored) Taylor Ward shortly after the Mookie Betts trade was all but official. Pederson may have left via free agency after the season, but Pages would be among the org’s top prospects and, as we all know, the Angels always have a need for pitching. He meddles with his General Managers, a la Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones, but at least Jones has championships to show for it. Moreno, as Angels’ owner, has seen the playoffs just six times in 20 years, and just one of those years has come with Trout on the active roster.
All this is to say I don’t think there’s any way he OKs an Ohtani trade to the Dodgers, even if the Dodgers could give the Angels basically everything they would need to restart their franchise.
Diego Cartaya and Bobby Miller — the Dodgers’ two-best prospects — would immediately become the Angels’ two-best prospects (no disrespect to Sam Bachman). The likes of Michael Busch, Pages, Ryan Pepiot, Miguel Vargas — the usually suspects — would go a long way to help put a viable team around Trout, whom the Angels probably couldn’t trade right now because of the back issue and contractual situation. I could even imagine a scenario where the Dodgers are willing to include Tony Gonsolin or Gavin Lux in an Ohtani deal, which would give Anaheim some young, cost-controlled, MLB-level talent.
Instead, Moreno would let his stubbornness and ego get in the way of allowing Angels’ general manager Perry Minasian to do what’s best for the club. At least, that’s the assumption.
If the Angels could get a similar deal from literally any other team than the Dodgers, Moreno would probably choose to go that direction. At least that would be somewhat reasonable.
The Dodgers were definitely in the mix for Ohtani when he signed out of Japan back in December of 2017. If the National League had the designated hitter at the time, I’m fairly confident he would have signed with LA. Alas, there wasn’t and the rest is history.
Ohtani was asked Thursday about his future as an Angel.
Make of that what you will.
Ohtani deserves better. Angel fans deserve better. The way that team is currently constructed, moving Ohtani to restart the process is a no-brainer — even if they might not deserve that.
Then again, they’ll probably screw it up again. Like they, seemingly, always do.