Anyone who had dreams of watching two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani chasing the American League home-run record while making a postseason push for a contender over the final two months of the season woke up to a harsh reality on Thursday morning with the news that the Angels had completed a trade with the White Sox for starting pitcher Lucas Giolito and reliever Reynaldo López.
To get Giolito and López from Chicago to Anaheim, the Angels had to surrender top prospects, in catcher Edgar Quero and left-handed pitcher Ky Bush. It’s a move the franchise would not have made if they were planning to deal Ohtani prior to next week’s trade deadline. Sports Illustrated was the first to report that the Angels have officially pulled Ohtani, 29, off of the trade market and plan to be buyers instead of sellers ahead of the deadline. The team dealing top prospects Quero and Bush to the White Sox for Giolito and López basically confirms that report.
“Good for Perry,” an American League executive said of Angels general manager Perry Minasian. “I respect that he’s playing his hand this way. They are in buy mode.”
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Winners of seven out of their last 10 games despite the absence of injured superstar Mike Trout, the Angels are four games back of the final wild-card spot in the A.L. going into a doubleheader on Thursday against the lowly Detroit Tigers. Ohtani, who leads the Majors in home runs (36), triples (7), slugging (.668), OPS (1.066) and total bases (250), is scheduled to start the opener on the mound (where, of course, he’s not too shabby either) for the Halos.
With Ohtani well on his way to winning MVP and Trout expected back in mid-August, the Angels apparently believe they will be able to win a Wild Card spot and end an eight-year playoff drought. That seems a bit optimistic given the standings and the fact that Trout and Ohtani have gone 380–429 in the six seasons they have been teammates. They’ve never finished higher than third place in that time span either.
Anything could happen and there is still plenty of baseball to be played, but it’s certainly a longshot that Los Angeles will make the playoffs, and it would be better for MLB if Ohtani was on a team that will more certainly be playing in October. Undoubtedly, his presence would get more fans to tune into postseason games. Baseball’s brass would have been wise to compel Angels owner Arte Moreno to move Ohtani, but it appears that won’t be happening. Somewhat surprisingly, that’s actually what Ohtani wants.
“Moreno, who has declined to both trade Ohtani and sell the franchise over the past year, is expected to make a run at re-signing him in the offseason,” according to ESPN. “Sources have said Ohtani would prefer to stay with the Angels for the stretch run and that Moreno would have no shot to bring him back as a free agent if he were to trade Ohtani to another team.”
In related news, at least one high-profile player will be changing teams, as it was announced late Wednesday that the Dodgers acquired shortstop Amed Rosario from the Guardians in exchange for former Mets right-hander Noah “Thor” Syndergaard and cash considerations. On Tuesday, the Dodgers landed utilityman Kiké Hernández from the Red Sox. Mired in a season-long slump, Hernández returns to the franchise he helped win the World Series in 2020.
It’d be great for baseball if Ohtani had the opportunity to do the same thing this year. Now that Ohtani is staying in L.A. with the Angels, he probably won’t and that’s a damn shame.