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The Angels are likely facing the most difficult decision a team has ever faced at the trade deadline.
They happen to have the most talented player in the history of the sport. They also might need to move him at the deadline to avoid losing him for nothing in the offseason.
Shohei Ohtani is set to hit free agency after the 2023 season, and he has made it clear how much he wants to compete. During his time in Anaheim, every team but the Angels and Rangers in the AL West have reached the playoffs at least once, and Texas certainly appears well on track to break their run this year. The Angels, despite having Ohtani and Mike Trout, have finished no better than third in the division and have the 11th-fewest wins since Ohtani signed with the team.
While no one can predict what Ohtani will do in the offseason — perhaps he will re-sign with the Angels — Los Angeles’ inability to put together a contender with Ohtani and Trout together makes it seem less likely he’ll want to return when he has an open market. And if he leaves the Angels in the offseason, they will get nothing but a draft pick when he inevitably turns down their qualifying offer.
With Trout expected to be out possibly until September, the hopes of reaching the playoffs this year look even more dismal. If the Angels don’t believe they will snap this eight-year playoff drought, perhaps it makes sense to net what could be an organization-shaping return for Ohtani before he hits free agency.
Will the Angels part with their superstar talent before the Aug. 1 trade deadline? Or will they try to keep Ohtani in the hopes of still making a late playoff push and retaining him past 2023?
Here’s the latest news, updates and rumors surrounding Ohtani:
Shohei Ohtani trade rumors
Angels have discussed Ohtani trade scenarios with other teams
Jon Morosi reported Monday that, despite the Angels lingering in the AL wild card race, a trade remains a possibility. The Angels reportedly have discussed trade scenarios involving Ohtani in recent days, making the team’s next few games critical as the deadline nears.
The Angels have communicated about Shohei Ohtani trade scenarios with other teams in recent days.
Even as the Angels have won 6 of 8, the possibility of an Ohtani trade remains.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 24, 2023
The Angels are 51-49 and four games behind the Blue Jays for the AL’s final wild card spot. Los Angeles also has to contend with the Red Sox and Yankees, who are both two games behind Toronto.
The Angels are off on Monday but start a road series in Detroit on Tuesday night.
Angels likely waiting to make decision on Ohtani trade
In the wise words of Treebeard, “We must not be hasty.” And the Angels are certainly not going to be hasty with Ohtani. Per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, Los Angeles is reportedly going to wait until the final 24-48 hours of the trade deadline before deciding whether to trade Ohtani.
That won’t stop teams from making inquiries, but it certainly makes sense from the Angels’ perspective. Once Ohtani is traded, there’s no guarantee he’ll ever put on an Angels uniform again. And if Los Angeles finds itself heating up — it is coming off a three-game sweep of the Yankees, with series against the Pirates and Tigers coming up — it might want to hold onto Ohtani and see if a playoff run might be in the team’s future.
Ohtani unlikely to be traded to the Dodgers
The Dodgers have made some of the splashiest trades in the past, having acquired Mookie Betts in an offseason deal and both Max Scherzer and Trea Turner in the same headline-grabbing 2021 deadline deal. But the New York Post’s Jon Heyman believes they are an unlikely match for Ohtani.
Despite possessing more than enough trade capital to acquire the Angels star, the Dodgers being a cross-town rival might keep Angels owner Arte Moreno from signing off on a deal to put him in Dodger blue. Heyman did say he believed the Dodgers will still have a real shot at signing him in the offseason.
“Would they trade him to the Dodgers? No,” Heyman said. “I spoke to somebody with the Dodgers, they realize he’s not getting traded to the Dodgers. Even if you think that he could sign long-term with the Dodgers, Arte Moreno’s not going to do that. He may ultimately trade him, some chance, as I said 25 percent, do not see him being traded to the Dodgers.”
Angels are in ‘listening mode,’ though trade remains unlikely
The Angels are at least going to be doing their due diligence. Morosi reported Los Angeles is in “listening mode” regarding Ohtani, signaling to teams they at least won’t hang up the phone if someone comes calling.
As Morosi reported, there are plenty of factors the team will be considering: Among them, three factors are Ohtani’s legacy with the Angels; the chances the team has to sign him in the offseason; and the quality of the offers that come in. The team is looking for multiple top-100 prospects — as would be expected — but has to be prepared to be the team to set the groundbreaking return. No one of Ohtani’s caliber has been on the market before.
“What has changed I believe in recent days is the Angels have discussed internally as an organization and realized with where they’re at in the standings, while the standard to move Shohei is going to be extraordinarily high, they have no choice but to listen to the inquiries that are coming in,” Morosi said.