Angels are in a pickle. Again. Still.
The team, which has been underperforming for years, is for sale — which brings cheers from one end of Orange County to the far reaches of the Coachella Valley,
Owner Arte Moreno will do very well when he cashes in his Angel hat and jacket for something north of $2 billion dollars. (He paid $185 million 19 years ago).
The new owner will immediately inherit a monumental decision. To trade Shohei Ohtani for what would surely be a Kings Ransom in young players or to hold onto your most valuable asset as you start selling tickets and sponsorships for 2023.
You see, Ohtani will be a free agent at the end of next season. Free to go wherever he wishes with the Angels getting zero compensation for this generational player. And Ohtani has made it clear, he wants to play for a team that, you know, wins! Like the one up the freeway.
Ohtani is more than numbers, although he is in the Top 10 in the American League in home runs, RBIs, triples, runs as a hitter and in the Top 10 in wins, strikeouts and ERA as a pitcher. He strikes out 12.4 batters per nine innings.
(You really have to watch him play to fully appreciate him. Last week against the Yankees he took a two-strike slider on the outside corner and pulled it over the right field wall for his 29th homer of the season. Few can do that! )
And, he’s big, fast and young. He could sell Dodger dogs to a Giant fan.
He’s also Japanese and has a bigger fan base than just about anyone in the game today.
They’re not the only choices, but….Angels? Dodgers? Let’s see, the Angels are 28 games out of first place and 18 games UNDER .500, the Dodgers are 19 games out of first place and are 50 games OVER .500.
So the choices for the new Angel ownership:
A. Offer Ohtani a massive contract. Somewhere in the neighborhood of $400 million plus free lifetime entry to Disneyland for him and his family. (Ohtani will likely turn this down because, as stated, he wants to play on a winning team)
B. Trade him this off-season for a boatload of young talent. Then watch Angel fans march on the Big A!
C. Wait until mid-season – after sponsorships, suites and season tickets are sold – and trade him, although his value will decrease with each passing month.
D. Hold onto him all year and hope he doesn’t just walk away as a free agent (see A). Sure!
Pete Donovan is a Palm Desert resident and former Los Angeles Times sports reporter. He can be reached at [email protected]
This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: Could Shohei Ohtani be traded when new Los Angeles Angels owner takes over?