Angels take the gutless route

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The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have traded their 2nd and 3rd ranked prospects to the Chicago White Sox for Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, signifying that the Angels are going to try to make a run, and that Shohei Ohtani will play out the remainder of his contract on the Angels.

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Keeping Shohei Ohtani past the deadline is absolutely the wrong move.

He. Is. Gone.

No matter what happens the rest of the season, even if they do sneak into the wildcard, Ohtani is leaving. He’s said that his top priority is winning, and the Angels have proven too incompetent to do that. Of course, no one wants to be known as the owner who traded Ohtani, but now Arte Moreno has cemented his legacy as the owner who watched the best player ever walk away, and get nothing in return.

Lauding the Angels for going “all in” and “rewarding the fans by being buyers” is not the argument people think it is. The front office has exposed itself because if this is going “all-in,” then what a pathetic attempt it is.

If anything, this is punishing the fans. What’s often missing from discourse about trading Ohtani is the fact that he could sign with the Angels in free agency if he really wanted to even after being traded. The Angels could’ve realized that they aren’t accomplishing anything this year and that they should improve their organizational depth for last year and use that as a selling point when courting Ohtani in free agency, something they were going to have to do no matter what.

July of the last year of Ohtani’s contract is not when you’re supposed to start showing him you’re serious about winning. It’s too late. But they’ll say they tried their best to keep Ohtani because they bought at the deadline and faux-contended by sticking around a few games back of the wild card through August. No fan base is dumb enough to buy that. The emperor has no clothes.

A good stretch against the Judge-less Yankees, Pirates, and Tigers is not enough to convince my they’re actually a legitimate playoff contender when everything they’ve shown us over the years points to the contrary.

I’m no longer a member of the “I’d love to see Ohtani and Trout in the playoffs together,” school of thought. It’s time to free Shohei and punish the Angels for their incompetence. They’re 3-2 since the trade including a loss in Giolito’s first start for the team, staying at four games back of the last wild card spot with an absolutely brutal schedule coming up. After just losing a series to the Blue Jays, they face the Braves, Mariners, Giants, Astros, Rangers, Rays, and Reds.

Giolito is a really good pitcher and was a hot commodity at the deadline, but he’s nowhere near enough to push this team over the top.

Even after these trades, they could easily finish this season with a losing record, just like they have in every other season with Ohtani. What makes this trade even more mind-numbing is that Giolito himself is also a free agent at the end of the season. Ohtani will be gone, Giolito will be gone, and the Angels have completely screwed their farm system heading into what’s going to be a complete rebuild. This might be the most pointless rental in memory. On Sunday night, they also traded their 8th and 28th-ranked prospects for CJ Cron and Randal Grichuk, and their combined 1.0 WAR.

The Angels’ farm system was already ranked near the bottom and, with this trade, has moved into last place (depending on which publication is doing the rankings). They have just one top-100 prospect in Logan O’Hoppe, who has already made his debut. They could’ve added at least three more on that list but passed.

The fans know that this team is going nowhere and that Shohei is. The fear of being known as the front office that traded Ohtani scared Angels ownership into going against their own best interests. Choosing inaction over a move that might be unpopular in the moment, but the best thing for the organization is spineless by definition. Now they’ve depleted their league-worst farm system even more, are going to lose Ohtani in free agency after missing the playoffs again, and will have nothing to show for it.

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