The Angels will not trade Shohei Ohtani, according to reports, reaffirming the club’s previous statements it intends to make a playoff run this season.
The team took the two-way star off the trade market and instead acquired pitchers Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo López from the Chicago White Sox for minor league pitcher Ky Bush and catcher Edgar Quero.
The trade, announced late Wednesday, plugs major holes in the team’s starting rotation and bullpen. Giolito and López have contracts that expire at the end of this season, but Bush and Quero were not part of the Angels’ long-term plans.
The decision to take Ohtani off the trade market was first reported by Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci, while the trade was first reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
Giolito, 29, is from Santa Monica and starred at Studio City Harvard-Westlake. He was among the top pitchers on the market after making it clear he did not intend to remain with the White Sox. He is 6-6 with a 3.79 ERA in 21 starts. He threw a no-hitter in 2020 and was an All-Star in 2019.
He should add stability to the rotation that has been inconsistent outside of Ohtani. Giolito could start this weekend in Toronto, a key series for the Angels as they chase a playoff spot.
López, 29, is 2-5 with a 4.29 ERA and four saves in 43 appearances. He‘s a veteran expected to bolster the struggling bullpen.
The Angels made a strong effort to change its fortunes in the first half despite early and significant injuries to key starters. They lost nine out of 10 before the All-Star break as those injuries mounted, including a wrist fracture for Mike Trout.
But it appeared the Angels quickly turned a corner, going 6-3 during their first homestand coming out of the break and playing themselves back into playoff contention heading into a road trip with stops in Detroit, Toronto and Atlanta.
Ohtani aired a feeling of hope about his team, wanting to see how far he could go with the Angels this season.
“This is my sixth year,” Ohtani told reporters after his most recent start in Anaheim. “My feelings haven’t changed about wanting to go to the playoffs with this team and win once we’re there.
“I think we’re in a position where we can still make it.”
The Angels’ game Wednesday was postponed because of rain in Detroit. They entered Thursday’s doubleheader with the Tigers 51-49, four games out of a wild-card spot.
Ohtani has continued to set himself up for another most-valuable-player award.
At the plate, he leads MLB with 36 home runs, a .668 slugging rate and a 1.066 on-base-plus-slugging rate. He also is tied for first with seven triples. He has 77 runs batted in (tied for third) and a .299 batting average (tied for 10th).
On the mound, he’s tied for first in MLB in opponent batting average (.195) and tied for fourth in strikeouts (148). He has an earned-run average of 3.71, going 8-5 in 19 starts with 111-2/3 innings pitched. He is scheduled to pitch the opener of the doubleheader Thursday morning.
The Angels will face a fierce bidding battle for his services at the end of the season as the star enters free agency. By declining to trade Ohtani for a collection of players, the Angels risk losing Ohtani to another team while receiving nothing in return.
It adds to the pressure on the Angels to shrug off injuries and make a playoff run to enhance their chances of keeping Ohtani.
Ohtani is making $30 million this season, earning the third-highest salary among Angels players. He trails Mike Trout, who’s making more than $37 million, and Anthony Rendon, making more than $38 million.