The Angels Are Pushing in All Their Chips To Keep Shohei Ohtani

The Angels need to make some waves by the August 1 trade deadline; the future of their franchise might depend on it.

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - MAY 27: Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels at bat in the game against the Miami Marlins at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on May 27, 2023 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

Shohei Ohtani’s free agent saga will be one for the ages. Teams will be lined up out the door, pockets filled with enough money to file a low-bid entrance to own a professional franchise, prepared with Jordan Belfort-level sales pitches to land the unicorn of baseball.

The Angels will not enter the sweepstakes as the favorite, though they will certainly have an opportunity to retain the two-way sensation. With Ohtani seeking to join a team that is consistently competing for World Series titles, how can the Halos prove that they are such a team? They currently sit right in the thick of the AL Wild Card hunt in search of their first playoff appearance since 2014.

Plain and simple: They have to win. And they have to win now.

If they are serious about not letting Ohtani walk out of the building, they need to go all in to acquire the talent to push themselves into the postseason.

Ad – content continues below

The Angels have already thrown in their ante at the poker table by yanking up their top prospects. Infielder Zach Neto got the call to the show two weeks into the season, after the 2022 first-rounder played in just 44 minor league games. Meanwhile, 2021 first-rounder Sam Bachman made his debut in late May after tossing fewer than 100 minor league innings across parts of three seasons.

Neto, despite currently sitting on the IL, is rocking a 114 WRC+, a .779 OPS and a 1.3 fWAR in 55 games. Bachman, meanwhile, sports a 1.88 ERA in nine appearances out of the bullpen.

The Angels slightly raised the bid with trades for veteran infielders Mike Moustakas and Eduardo Escobar. Neither is the player he once was, but Moustakas can be a valuable bench bat and Escobar provides much-needed infield depth.

The Angels already rank within the top five of almost every offensive category (wRC+, wOBA, ISO, home runs, OPS, offensive WAR) while also ranking ninth in batting average (.259). They have the bats to propel themselves into the postseason and make some noise.

Their rotation, for the most part, is a middling group (though they do rank 10th in fWAR). Their bullpen ranks in the top ten in ERA, though their FIP and xFIP suggest they may be due for some regression, as they are slightly below league average at 19th in FIP (4.11) and xFIP (4.43).

If the Angels really want to significantly raise the stakes at the poker table, they need to push their chips forward by adding impact arms to complement Ohtani.

Ad – content continues below

With so many teams right on the fringe of playoff contention, the market may not be fully clear yet. But there are a few teams that are further behind than others.

Could the Angels give a ring to the South Side of Chicago and inquire about Lucas Giolito? Would the Mets really consider moving Max Scherzer, who might be willing to waive his no-trade clause?

In terms of the bullpen, a trade for Aroldis Chapman felt logical. He seems to have found the fountain of youth, evidenced by the consistent triple digits on his heater this season and his 2.45 ERA. However, their in-division rival in the Rangers beat them to the punch for Chapman’s services.

Could they strike another deal with the Rockies, this time acquiring Daniel Bard? Will the Cardinals shop Jordan Hicks with their season spiraling downward? And those are just a few of the various options. There will be a plethora of bullpen arms that will be made available before the conclusion of the trade deadline.

Perhaps the Angels will opt to trade for long-term pieces with more than half a year of team control. It would be a different direction, but it would also show Ohtani another level of commitment to winning.

Which trade targets this might include is hard to guess, and often those trades are the ones that send shockwaves throughout the game. But it may be necessary, in Perry Minasian’s case, to both bolster the pitching for the long-term while also planting another stepping stone for Ohtani.

Ad – content continues below

Bottom line, the Angels need to make some waves by August 1, with forceful impact. The future of their franchise depends on it.