Shohei Ohtani Trade

Angels Shouldn’t Trade Ohtani, Even With Trout Injury

For a while there, things were actually on the up in Anaheim. The Los Angeles Angels were above .500, right in the thick of the wild card race, and the Shohei Ohtani trade talk was dead.

But then, with one bad Mike Trout swing, the trade winds came swirling back. With their star outfielder expected out for least four to eight weeks, should the Angels consider trading Ohtani?

What’s The Argument For Trading Ohtani?

Before outlining why trading Ohtani is the wrong idea, I’ll at least explain why many in the baseball world think Los Angeles should move the modern Babe Ruth at the 2023 MLB trade deadline.

Ohtani is a superstar. He’s on pace for 58 homers, 245 strikeouts as a pitcher, and 11.5 total bWAR. But, he’s a superstar that’s months away from free agency. Since the Angels have never made the playoffs with Ohtani, most assume the two-way star will walk this winter, looking for a team that’ll actually compete in October (the Mets are one of the most likely destinations).

So, if Ohtani is walking, some think the Angels should cut bait — trade him for a massive prospect package and start the rebuild now. Instead of losing him for nothing, lose him for prospects. It’s a fair take, but it’s not what I believe the Angels should do right now.

Angels Should Buy, Not Sell

This year is the Angels' best shot. They’ve got a 31-year-old Mike Trout (though injured), a few final months of Ohtani, and a solid foundation around them. Only three of the Angels' top nine players by WAR this season are under the age of 28. With an aging core, this team isn't getting magically more talented next season — especially if/when Ohtani walks. Push the chips in, try to win with this group.

Currently, the Angels are on pace for 82 wins and have a 22.22% shot to make the playoffs, per MLB playoff odds. That win pace would (sadly) be the Angels’ best season in the Ohtani era. The Angels' +2500 World Series odds sit tied for 11th in MLB with the Orioles, Phillies, and Padres. All three of those teams will be buying at the deadline.

Angels 2023 Playoff Odds
MarketOddsImplied %
Yes Playoffs+35022.22%
No Playoffs-50083.33%

Sure, it’s a risk. Sure, if (when?) Ohtani walks you’ve now gotten no prospects to show from him. But, the only value of trading for Ohtani is to try to win later, when this Angels team can win now. This year’s Angels squad has a better shot of winning than some fictional set of prospects alongside a 34-year-old Trout down the line.

Is Losing Trout A huge Blow?

Also, it's important to note that losing Trout in 2023 isn't quite as big of a hit to LA's playoff aspirations as it may have been in previous years.

Trout's current batting average (.263), OPS (.862), and WAR pace (5.4) are all well above average. But, they're also well below his full season career norms. If there's ever been an Angels team that can survive a few months without Trout, this is it.

When Should The Move Ohtani?

Right now, the Angels should still be buyers. But, two things have to happen for an Ohtani trade to become justifiable:

1) They fall so far out of the playoffs race it’s inconceivable they make the postseason
2) They get a truly great trade offer

Only when these two conditions are met is it even plausible the Angels should move Ohtani. Even with Trout injured, LA has to hold out and try as long as possible to win while they still have the two-way superstar.