Shohei Ohtani appears to be staying put — at least for now.
The Angels' two-way star has been subject to plenty of trade rumors in recent months ahead of his pending free agency. Why? Because it was believed that Los Angeles would struggle to retain the 2021 AL MVP if the team failed to make a playoff push.
However, the Angels entered their cross-town matchup with the Dodgers on Tuesday boasting a record of 41-33. That put them five games back of the AL West-leading Rangers in the divisional race but right in the thick of the AL wild card race.
So, is the organization giving any thought to trading Ohtani now?
"I think it’s pretty self-explanatory with where we’re at [in the standings],” general manager Perry Minasian said twice when asked about the possibility, per the Los Angeles Times.
Minasian's statement stopped short of guaranteeing that the Angels would keep Ohtani, but certainly, it's hard to imagine the team moving on from him at this time. They are on pace to make the playoffs, after all, and it would be hard to recoup anything close to Ohtani's value in a midseason trade.
Entering Tuesday's slate of MLB games, Ohtani was leading the AL in home runs (24), RBI (58) and had posted a slash line of .300/.384/.632 in 72 games as a hitter. Meanwhile, as a pitcher, he had held opponents to a league-best .178 batting average while logging a 3.29 ERA and 6-2 record over 14 starts.
Replacing that type of productivity via an in-season trade would be next to impossible. So, while the Angels might risk losing Ohtani for nothing should he depart in free agency, taking that gamble makes more sense than trading him for pennies on the dollar.
Of course, things could change from now to the MLB trade deadline on Aug. 1. But as it stands, expect Ohtani to remain in a Halos uniform for the rest of the 2023 MLB season — if not, longer.