It seems like a classic offseason thought that makes you look/feel dumb once May arrives ... but is there a world in which the LA Angels are actually good in 2023? And do the Los Angeles Dodgers have to worry about that being the case if they're planning to pursue Shohei Ohtani next offseason?
Look, we'll believe it when we see it, because the Angels customarily make splashy or (seemingly) smart moves every offseason before watching it all blow up in their face.
But this time around feels a bit different, no? They swiped Tyler Anderson from the Dodgers on what might be the best contract of the offseason (three years, $39 million) and then traded for Gio Urshela and Hunter Renfroe.
The pitching still, without a doubt, needs a ton of help, but on Tuesday night, they added Brandon Drury on a two-year, $17 million contract, which fills out the position player aspect of their roster very nicely.
With Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon set to be healthy and ready for Opening Day, assuming the Angels don't once again spectacularly watch it all come crashing down, this could be one of the better stories in MLB next season.
Do the Dodgers have to worry about the Angels being good re: Shohei Ohtani?
The Angels upgraded within reason and objectively got better in key areas. They added 30-homer power in Renfroe. They got a shortstop in Urshela, who is a great defender and effective hitter. Bringing in Drury gives them a ton of flexibility since he can play first, second, third, short and the corner outfield spots.
Previously, many figured it was a foregone conclusion Ohtani would be leaving the Angels, especially after their 2022 collapse, coupled with his comments about losing once the season ended. It's still a fairly tall task for them to turn it around with the Astros and Mariners atop their games in the AL West ... but it's not like the NL is any easier, as proven by the Dodgers getting bounced in agonizing fashion in 2019, 2021 and 2022.
The Dodgers remain the more attractive option in free agency on paper, but don't forget the Angels can pony up the big bucks. They've never hesitated to pay top free agents -- even bad ones -- during the Mike Trout era.
And in this nightmare occurrence, perhaps the Dodgers' plan to usher in a new era with their top prospects isn't as promising as they had hoped. Perhaps the Padres win the division. Perhaps the Dodgers get bounced early in the postseason again.
We're certainly not going to manifest that, but a lot of Dodgers fans are banking on the belief that Ohtani will be coming up the freeway next offseason. Not sure we'd be unreasonably confident about that, especially since Ohtani didn't choose the Dodgers the first time around.