The Los Angeles Angels have been a heavily scrutinized organization over the last few years due to their inability to surround superstars Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani with the right talent to win a World Series title.
Forget winning the World Series; the Angels have never made the postseason since Ohtani came to the States in 2018 and have only been there once with Trout, which ended in a three-game sweep at the hands of the Kansas City Royals in 2014.
Year after year, fans have wondered if the time has finally come for the Angels to step up and do right by their franchise players, but every free agency and trade deadline, they have failed to do so. With the impending free agency of Ohtani, many across the baseball landscape have wondered whether the Angels would trade Ohtani, as the belief is that Ohtani will depart the organization in favor of one more suited towards winning. In any case, the Angels would at least try to get something in return for Ohtani rather than let him leave in free agency for nothing. They could also finally make one final push at the postseason this year to prove to Ohtani they are serious about winning.
Since Mike Trout’s hamate bone injury on July 4th has a return timetable of four to eight weeks, the expectation has leaned more towards trading Ohtani, as there are questions as to whether the Angels will have enough to get over the hump and earn a postseason spot.
Well, the Angels have finally decided what side of the market they will be on at this year’s trade deadline, at the answer may surprise you.
The Angels Will Not Trade Ohtani at the Deadline
The Angels’ front office has repeatedly said they wouldn’t trade Ohtani. This was confirmed again on Wednesday when Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci reported that Shohei Ohtani is off the trade market and the Angels plan to make a playoff push.
This decision leads many to believe that the Angels think they have a chance of retaining Ohtani in the offseason. There is a considerable risk factor involved with this, as not signing Ohtani and missing the postseason would be a massive failure. Keeping Ohtani for the rest of this season does indeed signal a desire to win and not yet look toward to future; if Los Angeles still misses this postseason, their decision-making will be questioned, just as it has in recent years.
The Angels making the postseason isn’t far-fetched, as at this point, they sit 3.5 games out of the third American League Wild Card spot. The teams they have to compete with for this spot pose a challenge, as the New York Yankees will be getting reigning AL MVP Aaron Judge back shortly, and the Blue Jays will look to make moves to improve their roster. The Mariners will also be looking to continue a push during this second half, and the Red Sox just seem to be hanging around.
The most important thing to note is, however, the Angels have been here before. They’ve been in a position to go for it and really have never been able to come through. They’ve failed Ohtani (and Trout) too many times, but perhaps this final time, they are ready to show him they can win and that they are worth remaining in Los Angeles for. To do that, the Angels will need to make some moves, and it looks like they’ve already started…
Angels Acquire Lucas Giolito from Chicago
The Angels began their buying at the Trade Deadline by acquiring RHP Lucas Giolito from the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday night. They also acquired RHP Reynaldo Lopez and, in the deal, gave up their number 2 and 3 prospects in Edgar Quero and Ky Bush.
In his age 28 season, Giolito is 6-6 with a 3.79 ERA, 4.46 FIP, 1.22 WHIP, 9.74 K/9, 3.12 BB/9, .279 BABIP, and 131 strikeouts in 121 innings pitcher. Giolito will provide some rotation help for an Angels team that has always lacked a formidable staff, and his upside is worth trading for.
Lopez, meanwhile, has come out of the bullpen in Chicago for a few years now. This season he is 2-5, with a 4.29 ERA, 4.55 FIP,1.28 WHIP, 11.14 K/9, 4.71 BB/9, .268 BABIP, 52 strikeouts, and four saves in 43 games. Lopez was once a widely regarded prospect, just like Giolito, who hasn’t fully lived up to expectations yet. The Angels are hoping to tap into his potential in hopes of making a postseason push.
On the White Sox side of things, Chicago got a very good haul considering they would always be sellers. They got the second and third-best prospects for an expiring deal in Giolito and a year and a half of Lopez.
Quero is a 20-year-old catcher currently in Double-A. This season he is slashing .246/.386/.332 with a .718 OPS in 70 games. The former number 2 prospect for the Angels now becomes the White Sox’ second-best prospect, and he is the ninth-best catching prospect in baseball. Trading Quero most likely signals a continued belief in Logan O’Hoppe to come back healthy and perform as an Angel.
Bush is a 23-year-old left-handed starting pitcher who has split time between Rookie-ball and Double-A in the minors this season. This year, Bush is 1-4 with a 7.20 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, 12.6 K/9, 4.9 BB/9, and 42 strikeouts in 30 innings. Bush is now the fifth-best White Sox prospect after being the third-best Angels prospect.
The Time is Now For the Angels
This is it. The Angels have decided to keep Ohtani for one final push.
They’ve already started to make an effort to improve their roster with the acquisitions of Giolito and Lopez, but only time will tell.
Can the Angels finally get Trout and Ohtani to the postseason?
Photo: Brian Rothmuller/AP