In the Los Angeles Angels last 49 games, they are 12-37 and have taken a complete nosedive out of the American League playoff picture. Throughout this dismal downturn, however, two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani has been playing some of the best baseball of his career.
Since May 29, Ohtani is batting .273 with a .923 OPS. He has a significantly decreased strikeout rate and increased walk rate. And that pales in comparison to the dominance he’s held on the mound. Prior to the seventh inning of Friday night’s game against the Atlanta Braves, Ohtani had pitched a stretch of 45.2 innings in which he allowed just two runs on 21 hits and 11 walks while striking out 69 batters.
It was by far the best stretch of his career on the mound, and it led to six consecutive Angels wins when he was the starting pitcher. But rival teams took note of the fact that between June 3 and July 16, the Angels were 6-28 when Ohtani was not the starting pitcher.
This led to increased chatter league-wide that the Angels may be forced to trade Ohtani, rather than re-sign him to a massive contract extension during the 2023-24 offseason. And now, with the Aug. 2 trade deadline looming, teams have begun placing calls to the Angels about the two-way superstar, according to Jon Morosi of MLB Network:
Sources: @MLB teams are calling #Angels to express trade interest in Shohei Ohtani, but the Angels are indicating they have no plans to move the superstar before the Aug. 2 Trade Deadline. @MLBNetwork @MLBNetworkRadio
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 23, 2022
Morosi quickly shut down the rumors by saying that the Halos have no interest in dealing Ohtani before the trade deadline, but if a team came along and offered a strong enough package, it might be wise for L.A. to consider it.
Ohtani has repeatedly stated that his main goal is to win, and in his five years with the Angels, he hasn’t done much winning. The team has a .460 win percentage since 2018, and has not once been over .500 or come even close to a playoff berth.
If Ohtani’s goal is to play for a World Series contender, the Angels are running out of time to prove that he can do that in Anaheim. And if he decides that winning is the most important thing — in turn deciding to leave the Angels — it may be smart for them to find a trade while he remains under team control for one more season.
Yes, trading Ohtani at the deadline is highly unlikely, and a bit of a hasty decision. But in the offseason, that may be a legitimate consideration depending on the state of the roster. Rival teams doing their due diligence right now may not lead to an immediate deal, but it could lay the groundwork for an offseason swap.
Trout return unclear
Angels superstar Mike Trout is eligible to return from the IL (left ribcage inflammation) as soon as Monday. However, Phil Nevin warned that he may need some time beyond that before he can return to the field.
In some good news, though, he revealed that Trout is feeling much better and that a return next week is very possible.