No, we're not talking about LA Angels owner Arte Moreno no longer opting to sell the team. Yes, that helps the Los Angeles Dodgers' eventual pursuit of Shohei Ohtani, but another report concerning the superstar two-way player might tip the scales in Andrew Friedman's favor. Or, actually, may force his hand.
SNY's Andy Martino initially stated the obvious and reported Ohtani is "unlikely to be traded" after Moreno's decision not to sell ... but whether Moreno sold or not, Ohtani was never going to be moved before the start of the season.
Why would a new owner purchase the Angels for billions of dollars and then immediately trade the face of baseball? Why would Moreno, who is trying to preserve his investment, trade Ohtani after his front office made a ton of offseason moves in the name of contending for 2023? The sale had nothing to do with Ohtani's potential departure.
The interesting tidbit in Martino's report, however, was that the Angels will reportedly hold on to Ohtani for a few months to determine if they're able to contend. If they are, expect Ohtani to remain. If they're not, expect Moreno to face a bit of pressure from his front office, since there's belief the former AL MVP will leave in the offseason.
Will Moreno risk losing the most sought-after asset in the game for only a draft pick? He can't be that incompetent, right?
Could the Dodgers trade for Shohei Ohtani in the middle of 2023?
"Moreno’s poor stewardship is so well established that there appears little reason why Ohtani would choose to remain. A person familiar with the Angels organization predicted that the year would now play out this way for Ohtani: The Angels will hold him for a few months to see if they can remain in contention. If they fail to do so, general manager Perry Minasian would have to seek permission from an unpredictable owner to solicit offers for him prior to the trade deadline. If Moreno allows it, the ask will be extremely high."- Andy Martino of SNY
Now, here's the other wrinkle. Martino's piece goes on to talk about how, while the Mets making a midseason move for Ohtani remains unlikely, Steve Cohen has acted on impulse many times since taking over as New York's owner and could do the same if Ohtani were to become available. Martino posited Cohen offering up the Mets' top two prospects (and more) to the Angels and then promptly offering Ohtani a $450 million contract if the Angels were to agree to a trade.
Could that possibility lurking in the back of everyone's mind change the Dodgers' thinking come this year's trade deadline?
If the Dodgers really positioned themselves this offseason to prepare for Ohtani next offseason, will they risk losing a shot at that opportunity because of the Mets' hypothetical aggression? LA already faced a tall task in a theoretical Ohtani free agency battle because Cohen can offer more money than anybody.
If everything falls apart for the Angels and they decide to act in haste, there's a world in which the Dodgers might feel obligated to out-bid the Mets on the trade market (something they can do fairly easily) and then make an offer Ohtani can't refuse on the spot. That is, if Ohtani is truly their Plan A for 2024 and beyond.
The Mets' aggression and desperation knows no bounds, and the Carlos Correa situation proved that. Cohen might be chasing redemption after losing out on that one, though, and it's something the Dodgers might need to monitor as early as July.
NEXT STORY: Did Arte Moreno help Dodgers in Shohei Ohtani chase?