Major League Baseball
Why Angels should trade Shohei Ohtani at the deadline
Major League Baseball

Why Angels should trade Shohei Ohtani at the deadline

Updated Jul. 7, 2023 4:54 p.m. ET

The time has come for the Los Angeles Angels to make one of the most painful moves any team has ever made in MLB history: trade Shohei Ohtani

Entering Thursday, the Angels still own a winning record and remain in the hunt for one of the three wild-card spots in the American League. But the club is in the midst of the Fourth of July week from hell. Really, everything took a turn for the worse over a matter of two days. 

Mike Trout broke the hamate bone in his left hand Monday, requiring surgery that will sideline him at least four weeks. In my experience, players typically miss closer to two months following this injury. A day later, and a just a couple innings apart, Ohtani left his start against the San Diego Padres due to a blister on his pitching hand and Anthony Rendon came out of the game after fouling a ball off his leg.

Those injuries are much less serious than Trout's, with Rendon expected back in the lineup this weekend and Ohtani hoping to make his next start after the All-Star break. But the collateral damage from all three injuries transpiring concurrently informs how they should approach the trade deadline. Specifically, they should deal Ohtani.


Yes, that goes against what I said before the start of the season. In fact, I didn't think trading Ohtani was even a remote possibility as recently as June 19. The Angels were 41-33 and held the second wild-card spot. This was a little more than two weeks ago. 

But since then, the Angels have gone 4-11. They just got swept by the struggling Padres, this after losing a series to the last-place Rockies and splitting a series against the fourth-place White Sox team. Entering Thursday, the Angels are 45-44 and four games back of the final wild-card spot. 

Angels' should trade Shohei Ohtani with Mike Trout on IL

With no Trout for the foreseeable future, the Angels are in jeopardy of dropping out of the playoff race pretty quickly. Sure, they have guys like Mickey Moniak and Jo Adell who can perhaps give them solid play in the meantime. But we're talking about replacing Mike Trout, with whom the Angels were already struggling to stay in the playoff hunt when healthy and with Ohtani in the midst of having the best season in MLB history. 

Once the baseball calendar hits July, the 31-day clock begins to tick on which path teams want to take ahead of the Aug. 1 deadline. For the Angels, it's becoming abundantly clear that they should be sellers, which means trading Ohtani.

I know that's been a common sentiment over the past few days. However, it's just hard to deny the likely truth about his future. He's got three months left on his contract, and MLB on FOX insider Ken Rosenthal recently indicated on "Flippin' Bats" that Ohtani won't be re-signing with the Angels. 

MLB on Fox reporter Ken Rosenthal on Ohtani's impending free agency

Obviously, the Angels can choose to ride it out with the two-way superstar for the next three months. Maybe they climb back into playoff contention. But those hopes are getting slimmer and slimmer by the day. They can keep running Ohtani promotions to bring sellout crowds to Angels Stadium and continue to sell his jersey at the team's pro shop by keeping him in the interim. 

All of that will probably end, though, in October, delaying the inevitable by just a couple of months. A few more months of Ohtani won't mean much if you don't make it to the playoffs this season, and he walks this winter without any compensation in return. 

That's why the Angels have to trade him in the coming weeks. You can't let Ohtani, one of the greatest players of all time, leave for nothing, especially after having no real team success in his six seasons with the team. 

The return that you could get for Ohtani might change the Angels' fortune for the future. Even though he'd just be a rental, he'll likely fetch major-league talent and a team's No. 1 or No. 2 prospect. 

Did Shohei Ohtani just have the best month in MLB history?

Obviously, not every trade is going to work out. You're probably not going to strike a deal as amazing as when the Padres traded James Shields to the White Sox for Fernando Tatís Jr.. But unlike most other trades involving stars, the Angels won't be hinging their hopes on some teenager who's the No. 3 prospect in another team's organization. 

If recent major moves at the deadline have shown us anything, it's that stars less than Ohtani command players who can produce now and well into the future. Getting a few of those types with All-Star potential can be franchise-altering and set you up for the next decade-plus, which is better than just enjoying three more months of the Shohei Ohtani experience, no matter how fun it is. 

Even though trading Ohtani can lead to tremendous success for the Angels down the road, I understand how frustrating all of this is for their fans. The issues with the club predate his 2018 arrival. Trout's been one of the game's greatest talents ever since his 2012 rookie season and doesn't have a single playoff win to show for it, with the Angels reaching the postseason just once in his career. 

The Angels never surrounded Trout, and later Trout and Ohtani, with a strong supporting cast. And even though they made some strides this season, they're still not set up to withstand an injury to even one of those two.

Trout is under contract until 2030. By trading Ohtani, who is signed on for just 73 more games, they could ultimately begin filling this void once and for all. 


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