If the Angels trade Shohei Ohtani, Arte Moreno could very well be out

Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels sits in the dugout during the first inning.

Angels star Shohei Ohtani sits in the dugout during the first game against the Texas Rangers on Sunday. Has Ohtani played his last game in an Angels uniform? (Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press)

If their 5-2 loss to the Texas Rangers was Shohei Ohtani’s final game in an Angels uniform, he added to his legend with a productive day in yet another heartbreaking loss for a team short-circuited in nearly every way possible — and with in some ways this seemed impossible.

The Angels’ roster could be significantly different when they reconvene Tuesday to begin a three-game series against the Oakland A’s, hours after the 3 p.m. trade deadline. pacific time. Relievers Ryan Tepera and Aaron Loup, who each signed two-year deals last offseason to bolster the bullpen, reportedly could be dealt to the playoff contenders. Starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard, who is under contract, is a strong trade candidate even though his value isn’t what it once was.

That theory began when Syndergaard’s scheduled start on Sunday was pushed back to Tuesday, when he was supposed to face another rumored trade chip, A’s right-hander Frankie Montas. It’s an interesting matchup.

“It is,” Angels interim manager Phil Nevin said. “It could be Syndergaard-Montas, or bullpen-bullpen.”

And of course, Ohtani’s two-way name has figured prominently in recent trade rumors, but if the Angels trade him, owner Arte Moreno could also hand over the keys to the franchise and focus on developing the parking lots around the stadium.

With three-time AL MVP Mike Trout reduced to a part-time player due to a steady stream of injuries, Ohtani is one of the Angels’ few remaining attractions. Given the organization’s poor track record in scouting and developing prospects, the idea of ​​trading the unicorn-like Ohtani for a contingency package holds little appeal. It’s hard to trust them to get reasonable value in return or for those players to become as special as Ohtani.

The Angels’ best bullpen is built around him well enough to convince him to stay in Anaheim after next season when his contract expires. Let the baseball people make the decisions without Moreno throwing emotional, very large contracts at declining former superstars.

Shohei Ohtani triples during Game 1 against the Texas Rangers on Sunday.

Shohei Ohtani triples during Game 1 against the Texas Rangers on Sunday. (Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press)

Ohtani reached base four times Sunday, the fifth time this season he has reached base four or more times in a game. He increased his career-leading total to 58, drew two walks to cut his team’s lead in that category to 52, and contributed a triple and a single to his 94 hits, also a team-best earned a pitiful . 199 (156 for 782) in July.

His feats at the plate and his pitching (9-6, 2.81 earned run average, 144 strikeouts in 99 1/3 innings) put him in the conversation to win his second consecutive MVP award, although the New York Yankees Aaron Judge has been putting up epic numbers of his own. Judge leads the major leagues with an impressive 42 home runs and 91 runs for the team with the best record in the American League, compelling arguments.

Ohtani usually only speaks to reporters after his start, but he sometimes answers questions relayed to him through the Angels’ media relations department. He declined to speak at all on Sunday.

Ohtani was announced as the Angels’ starter on Wednesday, prompting the question of whether that means the Angels don’t plan to trade him. “Right now, he’s scheduled to play on Wednesday,” Nevin said, “and on a personal note, I hope he plays for me.”

Tepera, who struck out two in a scoreless eighth inning on Sunday, was traded from the Chicago Cubs to the Chicago White Sox just before the 2021 trade deadline. But the 34-year-old said his circumstances are not same as a year ago when it became part of the Cubs fire sale.

“It was almost certain that I was getting traded, becoming a free agent, and the way the Cubs were just trading everybody, trading everybody,” he said. “I think last year it was more inevitable that I would be traded. This year, things are a little different, signing a two-year contract.”

Shohei Ohtani laughs as he talks with Angels outfielder Brandon Marsh before Sunday's loss to the Texas Rangers.

Shohei Ohtani laughs as he talks with Angels outfielder Brandon Marsh before Sunday’s loss to the Texas Rangers. (Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press)

He’d like to play out that two-year, $14 million contract as an Angel. “I’m enjoying my time here. I really like it here. I came here for a reason and one of the reasons was to come here and win, obviously,” he said.

“I’m growing up a bit towards the end of my career as well. My ultimate goal is to win. With that said, what happens, happens. You know, go to a winning team that’s vying for a playoff spot. But my time here, I like it and I wouldn’t mind staying.”

Like the rest of us, he’ll have to wait to see what the roster looks like after the trade deadline. “It may look different. Maybe not. Who knows?” said rookie left-hander Reid Detmers, who gave up one earned run and struck out a career-high 12 batters through seven innings Sunday.

“The next couple of days might be pretty crazy, but that’s out of my control. I can’t do anything about it.”

Now, losing has become routine for the Angels (43-59). Ohtani’s departure would be the worst loss of a season that began with much promise but dissolved into another disappointing collegiate failure.

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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