Reeling Angels must swallow hard and trade Shohei Ohtani

Dodgers second baseman Mookie Betts chats with two-way Angels star Shohei Ohtani on the field
Dodgers second baseman Mookie Betts, left, chats with Angels’ Shohei Ohtani as Ohtani heads for second in the fourth inning of Friday’s game. (Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press)

For all the glitz and glamor to be found in rosters of Southern California’s hit sports teams, there’s only one piece of bling they’re really interested in.

They play for the rings. They build for the rings. They are irrelevant without rings.

They know these championships aren’t about style, they’re about substance, and they’re winning them with more than starlight, but also role-player courage, depth, team.

The ball from the Dodgers’ final title game ended up in the hands of backup receiver Austin Barnes. Arguably the best player in the Lakers’ last coronation game was sixth man Rajon Rondo. The cornerstone of the Rams’ lone title was a hidden hulk named Andrew Whitworth.

Learn more: Plaschke: Enough! The Dodgers need to save a bad spin and trade for an ace, now!

Which brings us to the Angels, whose last championship victory 21 years ago came on the arm of a rookie named John Lackey.

These current angels have the biggest star in Major League Baseball right now, a star way bigger than anyone on that 2002 team, quite possibly the greatest player in baseball history, but he’ll probably leave at the end of the season, and they are faced with a widely publicized choice.

Are they keeping Shohei Ohtani until October and risk losing him for next to nothing? Or do they trade him before the August 1 deadline and bolster their roster with at least two starting players and a slew of prospects to build a team that can possibly win one of those rings?

It says here, trade it.

If Arte Moreno is serious about owning a Los Angeles team beyond the first name, he’ll prioritize winning above all else, and trying to keep Ohtani past Aug. 1 is a losing proposition.

Learn more: Will the Angels keep Shohei Ohtani for the rest of the season? “It’s pretty self-explanatory”

Exchange it. Swallow it hard and trade it. Sacrifice all that marketing revenue and trade it in. Make your fans angry and trade it.

Use it to build that championship and redeem it. Change the face of your losing franchise and trade it. Sacrifice style for substance and swap it out.

Ohtani already has one foot out. Don’t let him slam that door in your face.

Have you heard him say that he values ​​victory above all else, even more than the quiet, comforting confines of Anaheim?

“I like the fans. I like the atmosphere in the organisation,” he said two years ago. “But my feelings of wanting to win are stronger.”

If you believe that, it’s pretty clear he’s not coming back. If he wasn’t convinced already, a recent injury-filled losing streak that pushed the Angels back to the brink of playoff irrelevance likely cemented him.

Learn more: Plaschke: Don’t miss it. Shohei Ohhhhh-tani delivers best season in baseball history

Listen to it and share it. Heed your instincts and trade it. Be fearless and trade it.

Yeah, it stinks.

In a perfect world, Ohtani would be an angel forever, ending his major league run where he started six years ago, with one of the few teams that cherished him before the rest of the baseball world. didn’t realize he was Babe Ruth.

In fact, he’s better than Babe Ruth, he’s a top 10 hitter and top 20 pitcher, and having just turned 29, he’s at the peak of his career, no more stats needed, you saw that, it’s a unicorn.

In a perfect world, Ohtani and teammate Mike Trout would have flown into the sunset together as a dynamic duo with multiple championships.

But in the bitter reality that has been the Angels’ existence for more than a decade, Ohtani and Trout haven’t even made a playoff game together, and the past six years have felt like a complete mess.

The Angels haven’t made the playoffs in nine years. They haven’t won a playoff game in 14 years. And this year doesn’t seem like any kind of headache.

Learn more: Hernández: How a Comic Book Character Influenced Shohei Ohtani’s Two-Way Dominance

This recent string of injuries has cost them six starters, including Trout, who will have to sit out at least a month with a broken hand. During that dark streak, the Angels lost eight of nine games and fell in the middle of a crowded wild card race. And their upcoming schedule after the All-Star break and before the trade deadline offers little relief, with their first six games against the New York Yankees and Houston Astros, and subsequent series in Toronto and Atlanta.

What tighten the jaw of a manager.

“It’s one of those things, just push,” Phil Nevin said ahead of Friday’s 11-4 loss to the Dodgers at Chavez Ravine. “The next guy.”

The problem with the Angels is that there are very few next players. They lack the organizational depth to plug in adequate reserves like the Dodgers always do. Their best players are falling, there isn’t much left to fill the void.

What they need is something only Ohtani can give them. They need powerful perspectives. They need reliable cornerstones. Simply put, they need more good players, and the best way to get there quickly is to use Ohtani as a chip to acquire them.

If he leaves in November, they’ll get next to nothing – a second-round draft pick probably – and the last six years will have been wasted.

Learn more: The Angels are hopelessly stuck at .500 with one game remaining before the All-Star break

Seriously, it stinks.

The fairy tale of a sports superstar who stays in one place forever rarely has a happy ending. You can’t count on it. You can’t believe it.

LeBron James never should have left Cleveland, but he did. Tom Brady should never have left New England, but he did. And Ohtani should never leave Anaheim, but he will.

No matter how loyal Ohtani feels, all indications are that he will pursue a $500 million contract from a place that has a legitimate shot at winning a championship. Did you see how much he savored that victory at the World Baseball Classic last spring? It’s about more than dollars, it’s about titles on the national stage, Ohtani has tasted and he clearly wants more.

If he stays, he might never get shot. His winger Trout is a slowly declining player whose body has been ravaged by his relentless efforts. The other star, Anthony Rendon, cannot stay on the pitch. By paying off those three guys, Moreno wouldn’t have much left to build a team around them, and Ohtani surely knows that.

He would re-sign with a team that needs a first baseman, a second baseman and a pitching group…and no short, clear path to acquiring them.

Learn more: Elliott: Soft-spoken Reid Detmers has become a big deal for Angels pitching staff

It’s obvious what will happen and what must happen, even if the angels are tired of hearing about it.

I asked Nevin if Ohtani’s stuff was a distraction.

“What thing?” he said.

Ohtani’s business discussion.

“I don’t talk about it,” he said. “You’re the first one I hear about today.”


“I don’t pay attention to that kind of stuff,” he said. “I know it’s going on, the players and us, it’s not something we talk about. We go out, we know he’s our teammate today.


“And we’re ready to use it and do our best with it,” Nevin said. “He’s a great teammate, he loves being here, we love having him here.”

That’s true, but they’ll probably be going their separate ways soon, and there’s apparently only one way this enchanted relationship can end happily ever after.

Exchange it.

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This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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