On July 2, the LA Angels of Anaheim were 45-41 and considered a playoff contender. Eight days later at the All-Star break, partially thanks to the Los Angeles Dodgers, they're now 45-46 and possibly viewed as one of the unlucky teams that will be on the outside looking in come October.
Does that mean the Angels' front office is about to pivot and change their approach at the trade deadline? With Mike Trout on the shelf for at least another month with a broken hamate bone, the Angels are in a precarious spot with just three weeks left until the Aug. 1 deadline.
The Dodgers wiping the floor with them and out-scoring their crosstown rivals 25-9 in the two-game set might've been the nail in the coffin. The Angels have dropped nine of their last 10 and will kick off the second half of the season against the Astros, Yankees and Pirates. They'll also see the Tigers, Blue Jays and Braves before the deadline.
The Angels are five games back of the AL Wild Card race. For a second there, it looked like they'd cruise to a playoff berth and live to see another day with Shohei Ohtani, who will be a free agent after 2023.
Now? It looks like they'll be forced to sell the two-way star at the deadline and recoup whatever they can before potentially making a run at him on the open market. Can't lose him for nothing, right?
Did Dodgers force Angels to sell Shohei Ohtani at the trade deadline?
With or without Ohtani, the Angels' future seems bleak. They consistently have one of the league's worst farm systems. They never have the requisite pitching to truly contend (despite drafting "Oops, all pitchers!" for the last several seasons). Their free agency expenditures are questionable at best. There's always something so wildly incomplete with their roster that it's beyond head-scratching.
Reports have suggested Ohtani wants to be in a winning environment. He's even alluded to it himself. If the Angels have proven since 2018 that they can't do it with him, it's a foregone conclusion he isn't going to stay. So why wouldn't LAA's front office cash in on a once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire unbelievable value in the form of prospect capital to possibly turn their fortunes around?
Because it's either that or just keep chugging along with a similarly underwhelming roster without Ohtani.
And guess who could help out?! The Dodgers! Even though LA's youth movement hasn't necessarily gone as planned, Andrew Friedman and Co. still have plenty to offer when it comes to highly-evaluated talent. And even so, who's better suited to offer a superior package? The Dodgers are blessed with a blend of contending for 2023 and beyond while possessing a surplus of talent.
For the teams in Ohtani's theoretical trade market, nobody can top the Dodgers, unless they were to make an ill-advised move to mortgage the future with the hopes of capturing a World Series this October. And who would even be willing to do that? The list is extremely short, if anybody is on it.
If the Dodgers do acquire him (and then sign him), they can look back and laugh about how they were the exclamation point on the Angels' slide right before the All-Star break, only to eventually benefit at the utmost expense of the Halos weeks later.