The MLB Trade Deadline discussion has been dominated by rumors surrounding Los Angeles Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani. Whether Ohtani stays or goes is the number one question Bob Nightengale of USA Today asks in his latest article.
The Angels are 50-49 on the season. They're eight games out of first place in the AL West and are four games back of the third Wild Card spot. There're honestly arguments that can be made either way as to whether the Angels should trade the best player on the planet or whether they should try and make a run with him.
From every rumor out there, it sounds like if the Angels have even a puncher's chance, Ohtani will remain an Angel. Nightengale gives us the reason why Arte Moreno is so hellbent on keeping him.
LA Angels continue to have an Arte Moreno problem
"Moreno’s closest friends in MLB tell him that he’s nuts if they trade him. They tell him it’s not worth the hatred of Angels fans if he gets dealt. Simply, if Ohtani leaves as a free agent, that’s on the player, providing the Angels at least try to sign him. If Ohtani is traded, that’s on Moreno, since Ohtani wants to stay put through at least the regular season. Sure, the Angels could get perhaps some top prospects if they trade Ohtani, but realistically, no matter how great the potential of the prospects, it won’t come remotely close to equalling the value of Ohtani. "- Bob Nightengale - USA Today
To summarize what Nightengale wrote, Moreno is being told by those he trusts in his MLB circles that he's nuts if he ever trades away the best player on the planet. He believes that as long as he makes a legitimate offer in free agency, keeping him is the best way to go. The Angels won't get what he's worth anyway since he's a free agent at the end of the year.
To that, I say Moreno is being naive. The goal most Angels fans have and that Moreno should have is to win. Would it be nice to win with Ohtani here? Absolutely. Is it realistic for this season? Nope. Is it realistic in the future if Moreno continues to avoid the luxury tax? I'm afraid not. Moreno believes the Angels can suddenly flip a script doing things his way when his way hasn't worked in a decade.
Moreno seems more focused on public perception than he is on winning. He cares more about whether he gets blamed or not for losing the best player on planet Earth more than he does putting the Angels in the best position to win in the future. It's just not what an owner should be doing.
I get that the Angels won't be getting back close to what Ohtani is actually worth in a trade. That shouldn't be the deciding factor. It's his fault they didn't trade him last year when the trade package would've been impossible to even mock. The Angels can still get franchise-altering prospects for Ohtani.
The Angels being only four back of a postseason spot makes it reasonable to hold onto Ohtani. I'm very fine with them holding onto him as long as they actually buy. Get a season-changing starting pitcher. Get a legitimate high-leverage reliever. Don't be afraid to go over the tax. If you go all in, you'll get the support of the fanbase. Going halfway and leaking an offer you make to Ohtani isn't justifiable enough to not trade him.
Moreno has to approach the deadline with the team in mind, not his public persona. Do what's best for the Los Angeles Angels. Keep Ohtani if it makes sense and add to the team at the deadline. Trade him if it doesn't make baseball sense to keep him and get prospects back that can help in the not-too-distant future. It's very simple.