Why Angels should be open to trading Shohei Ohtani to Dodgers

Amid the reams of confusing talk about the possibility of the Angels trading Shohei Ohtani, one disturbing narrative has emerged.

It is a scenario rooted in the belief that the Angels lack courage, confidence and conviction.

It is the thought that they would never trade him to the Dodgers.

Why not?

Why wouldn’t owner Arte Moreno want to acquire the best players regardless of geography? Why would he allow a cluttered 24-mile stretch of blacktop determine the path of his team’s championship journey?

What would he be so afraid of?

It has been already written here that the Angels should definitely trade Ohtani before the Aug. 1 deadline because he is not going to re-sign with them this winter. If he wanted to stay, he would have agreed to a contract by now. If he wanted to stay, he wouldn’t have talked so much about winning, an accomplishment for which the Angels are presently ill-equipped.

He’s leaving. Trade him before he does. Trade him to accumulate the most possible building blocks for a franchise transformation.

Trade him to the Dodgers.

Seriously, if they are scared, why?

The Angels’ perceived reluctance to pull the trigger on a trade that would greatly improve the futures of both teams is based on a myth that this longtime local sports observer is here to debunk.

They wouldn’t be trading him to their rivals. The Dodgers and Angels are not rivals. The Dodgers and Angels are not enemies. The Dodgers and Angels are barely even neighbors.

The constraints of traffic and the whims of history have combined to create a true Orange Curtain between the two franchises.

The 90-minute drive between the two stadiums in pregame rush hour has all but prevented any melting pot of fans. The consistent winning seasons by the Dodgers and losing seasons by the Angels has created a divide of expectations.

Folks in Los Angeles County could not give a hoot about the Angels. Most folks in Orange County consistently ignore the Dodgers.

Shohei Ohtani watches from the dugout during a game between the Angels and Oakland Athletics in April.

Shohei Ohtani watches from the dugout during a game between the Angels and Oakland Athletics in April.

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

When is the last time you’ve seen an Angels cap anywhere north of Buena Park? When is the last time you’ve heard about a Dodgers watch party in San Clemente?

Contrary to all the hyperbole spewed when they play each other, the Dodgers are not the Angels’ big brothers. They’re not even remotely related.

The Angels tried to be a Los Angeles team once. It didn’t work. It will never work. Two different cultures. Two different countries.

They played each other at Dodger Stadium before the All-Star Game. The atmosphere was lazy midsummer. There was no tension. There was no buzz. There is no rivalry.

Moreno needs to realize that trading Ohtani to the Dodgers will be no different than trading him to the Seattle Mariners or San Francisco Giants. Some fans will be outraged. Some fans will be thrilled with the new players. Everybody will eventually move on. This is not like it’s the first time something like this has happened.

In 1972, the Angels traded 20-game winner Andy Messersmith and 20-home run hitter Ken McMullen to the Dodgers for future Hall of Famer Frank Robinson and All-Star and no-hit wonder Bill Singer.

The next season Robinson hit 30 homers and Singer won 20 games for the Angels. Messersmith had a 2.51 ERA and two All-Star Game selections in the next three seasons for the Dodgers.

The Big A didn’t topple. Chavez Ravine didn’t rot. Everyone survived.

The Dodgers have been so unconcerned about trading with the Angels that in the winter after the 2019 season, Andrew Friedman tentatively dealt them fan favorite and 36-homer outfielder Joc Pederson and former All-Star Ross Stripling for infielder Luis Rengifo and a prospect. Some technicalities held up the deal long enough for Moreno to kill it, but it could have been done, and how happy would the Angels have been if it had been done?

If Moreno is given another chance to drink from that flush Dodgers faucet, he needs to drown himself in it.

The Dodgers are the potential trading partner with the most prospects. The Dodgers are the potential trading partner with the most motivation.

Some teams may be reluctant to dig to the bottom of their pockets because of the possibility that Ohtani would be little more than a three-month rental. The Dodgers don’t have that issue. The Dodgers can offer more than other teams because of their well-placed certainty that they aren’t renting, but buying, as they can afford to keep him for the rest of his career.

There’s no doubt here that if the Dodgers want him — and here’s guessing they really want him — they will offer the Angels whatever it takes.

Arte, take it.

Take Bobby Miller. Are you kidding me? If the Dodgers offer, take.

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 19: American League designated hitter Shohei Ohtani.

Shohei Ohtani watches from the American League dugout during the 2022 MLB All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Take some of their other top pitching prospects, from Gavin Stone to Ryan Pepiot to Michael Grove to Emmet Sheehan.

Dip into their catching depth, grab a Diego Cartaya. Scrounge around their injured list, pick up Gavin Lux. If things really get crazy and they offer J.D. Martinez because Ohtani would be the designated hitter, why not?

The extent of the Dodgers’ offerings for a star pitcher and position player — Ohtani is both — can perhaps be found in their last big deadline trade two years ago, when they acquired Max Scherzer and Trea Turner from the Washington Nationals.

They traded top pitching prospect Josiah Gray and top catching prospect Keibert Ruiz and two more minor leaguers. That could be the baseline for any talks, and here’s guessing the Angels can get even more.

Sure, the Dodgers can wait until this winter, when Ohtani walks and they can get him without giving up any players. But their chances of signing him increase exponentially if they can get him in the building now. Not to mention, there would be a marked increase in their chances of winning a World Series now.

The Dodgers want Ohtani. The Angels have to trade him. Freeway, schmeeway. If there’s a deal to be done, they should do it.