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Three questions facing Angels as team enters crucial winter after another disheartening season

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The Los Angeles Angels dropped out of playoff contention on Monday, ensuring they miss the playoffs for the eighth time in a row. The last five of those whiffs coincided with the Angels hiring Mike Trout and Shohei Otani, or the most productive player and most talented player of their generation. Trout and Otani are the only active MVP winners who have never won a playoff game.. The Angels have changed support roster and coaches, managers and general managers, and so far no combination has opened the door to October.

The winds of change will once again blow over Anaheim this offseason. At a minimum, the Angels will select a new skipper, their fourth full-time skipper since the start of the 2018 season. At best, the Angels will choose this new manager as part of a larger makeover. It is possible that the Angels could be sold this winter and that they could be traded for Otani and Trout. Even if the Angels keep both, they will most likely re-engineer their support staff, perhaps at the expense of homegrown players.

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To learn more about these features, let’s take a look at the handy subheading format.

1. Will Moreno find a buyer?

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The only constant throughout the organizational upheaval and restructuring of the Angels was owner Arte Moreno. This too may change soon. Moreno, who bought the franchise in 2003, announced this summer that he was exploring all options, including a possible off-season sale.

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What exactly Moreno’s departure will mean will be determined later, when the identity of the new owner becomes known. It’s fair to say that he has his fair share of detractors and critics in the industry, those who question his rumored vision for the game and scoff at his seemingly mercurial nature. Moreno did himself no favors when he took the Angels intelligence department with him.eliminated from playoff draw on Mondayat the slaughterhouse in the summer of 2020, which cost him more reputation than ever could have saved him in dollars.

Moreno, due to his mistakes, allowed the Angels to consistently enter the top 10 on the payroll. The Angels have not dropped below eighth place in this respect since 2015, and it was a one-year variance that saw them finish in ninth place, according to Cat Contracts. During this time Moreno signed major free agent contracts with Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Anthony Rendon. These deals rarely worked out, but each one was understandable and justified when signed.

Will the next Angels owner be just as generous in this regard? Will they be more generous in other ways? Again, at this stage of the process, this can only be guessed at.

2. Goodbye Ohtani and/or Trout?

While there is a lot of uncertainty about Moreno’s possible departure and its implications, it stands to reason that his departure would raise the chances of Otani’s trade this offseason.

The Angels were in talks with other teams for Otani before the trade deadline, but rival front offices were skeptical that Moreno would sign the deal. One source suggested that Moreno could view Otani and general manager Perry Minasian as a package deal: if Otani leaves, either through a free transfer or a trade this winter or next deadline, then Minasian is also out. There is no reason to believe that this is the case, but it speaks to others’ perception of Moreno.

Trading Ohtani would be painful, but it’s a straightforward matter. After next season, he will be entitled to free agency and has publicly stated his desire to win. The angels can offer him a lot of money, but not only them; what they may not be able to offer him, what they are not yet able to offer him, is a real chance for a World Series ring. Perhaps Minasyan can improve his lineup in the offseason enough to give the Angels a shot at glory next fall. The risk is that Otani will lose trading value the moment he plays against Los Angeles next season, as the acquiring team will no longer be able to refund compensation for a year-end draft pick.

One of the most compelling arguments for Otani’s trade is that a promising catch will help the Angels maximize what’s left of Trout’s heyday. The catch is that Trout is 31 and has been hampered by injuries for the past two seasons. Trout, no doubt, remains a game-changing talent, but players aren’t looking to stay healthier as they age. It’s likely that he has fewer seasons left at the elite level than anyone thinks. So perhaps the Angels should use this offseason to ask themselves if they should do the unthinkable and trade Trout?

Even if the Angels consider moving Trout, it’s hard to see the deal coming through. It’s nearly impossible to get a fair value for a player of his caliber, and that’s without including his contract in the equation (he owes more than $296 million for the 2030 season). Weird things happen all the time in baseball, but a deal with Otani seems far more likely than any deal involving Trout.

In addition, there is reason to believe that Minasyan is already focused on making the most of Trout’s remaining wonderful years.

3. Help on the way?

If you want proof that Minasian hears the ticking of the clock, look at how he handled his two drafting lessons. To open the 2021 draft, the Angels took 11 straight college hands: eight of them, including all of the top five, have already taken double-fives. The club’s 11th-round pick, Chase Silseth, made his major league debut in May, less than a year after he was pulled from Arizona. Sam Bachmann, who was drafted by the Angels in the first round, would probably have joined if not for the injury.

Minasyan also put some of his best picks in the 2022 draft on the fast lane. First-round shortstop Zack Neto, third-round pitcher Ben Joyce, and fifth-round first baseman Sonny DiChiara have either passed or made their Double-A debuts. These kind of tight deadlines are often reserved for the best of the best young players, those who have been selected in the top few picks in the draft. Minasyan seems ready to abandon the traditional slow approach to player development. The question is, is it because he thinks it’s unnecessary in this day and age, or because he thinks his crew – and, um, his employment status – needs the cavalry to arrive immediately?

Minasyan’s motivation is, in a sense, irrelevant. His personal interests mostly align with what’s best for the Angels (namely, winning games). The risk is that by rushing his draft picks on The Show, Minasyan could inadvertently and irreparably harm their long-term development. In turn, this would result in the Angels wasting the careers of many talented players, as well as a lot of draft capital and a lot of time.

Oh time, that deceptive booger. Since it seems like the Angels have always tried to achieve this, it lends credence to the decidedly false sense that they are destined for an eternity of trying and failing to build a winner around Trout and Otani. Modern Sisyphus. But in reality the situation is reversed. These Angels have already spent their allotted time. These Angels are already a tragedy.


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