Is there any hope for the Angels’ season, and will they trade Shohei Ohtani?

Angels' Shohei Ohtani, left, and Mike Trout celebrate after scoring against the Chicago Cubs on June 6, 2023, in Anaheim.
Shohei Ohtani, left, and Mike Trout celebrate after the Angels’ two superstars scored against the Chicago Cubs on June 6 at Angel Stadium.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

There wasn’t anything particularly new the Angels could say about being down on their luck after their last series before the All-Star break.

Two more players exited the last two games with injuries on a team already missing several starters including superstar Mike Trout. They got swept by the Dodgers, again. They went into the break with a losing record for the first time since April.

The Angels seemed to be in decent shape last month after rookie shortstop Zach Neto suffered an oblique strain and third baseman Gio Urshela was lost for the season with a pelvis fracture because they traded for veteran infielders Eduardo Escobar and Mike Moustakas to provide reinforcements. They remained in the thick of the playoff hunt in part because of Shohei Ohtani’s historically hot June.


Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani commented on the fans and environment in Seattle during Tuesday’s MLB All-Star Game.

July 11, 2023

But the Angels went into the break having lost five games in a row and nine of 10, with 14 players on the injured list and three more not healthy enough to play.

The Angels (45-46) will resume their season Friday at home against the defending champion Houston Astros with their work cut out for them, to say the least.

“I keep telling you I’m not going to make excuses, but we are going through a hard time,” manager Phil Nevin said last week. “We’ve had two weeks where it’s been, for a lot of reasons, rough. We’ve had our share of injuries but we just have not played well.”

Here are five things to look for as the Angels resume their season, including whether Ohtani’s days in Anaheim are numbered:


What happens with Ohtani?

Angels' Shohei Ohtani speaks to media during All-Star game player availability.
Angels’ Shohei Ohtani speaks to media during All-Star Game player availability on Monday in Seattle.
(Lindsey Wasson / Associated Press)


It seems unlikely that the Angels will trade him at the Aug. 1 deadline.

This is the last year of his contract. So if they are completely out of the playoff race by the deadline, it is fair to question whether the Angels would move him to get a significant return.

As The Times reported last month, the Angels believe trading Ohtani would hurt their chances of re-signing him.

If their efforts at convincing Ohtani to stay fall flat and Ohtani opts to play elsewhere once he hits free agency, then these months could be the last Angels fans have with him in their favorite colors.

And the two-way star is having another most valuable player-type season. He leads all of baseball with 32 home runs. He also has the highest on-base-plus-slugging percentage (1.050), the third-most RBIs (71) and the most triples (six).


On the mound, he’s holding teams to a .189 batting average, best in baseball. He’s tied for fourth in strikeouts with 132. He’s had six games in which he struck out 10 or more, and he became the first American League pitcher to do it and hit multiple home runs in the same game since 1963.

And he’s shown no signs of slowing his pace.


Will they make any moves before the deadline?

The Angels' Shohei Ohtani celebrates with Hunter Renfroe and Andrew Velazquez after hitting a homer.
Angels star Shohei Ohtani, right, celebrates his two-run home run with Hunter Renfroe (12) and Andrew Velazquez (4) during the seventh inning against the Dodgers on July 8.
(Kyusung Gong / Associated Press)

That could depend on what happens in the 16 games before the deadline. The Angels are in fourth place in the American League West, seven games out of first. They are five games out of a wild-card spot.

Returning injured or otherwise ailing players should help, but general manager Perry Minasian could attempt to make upgrades to the roster via trades in their bid to reach the postseason for the first time since 2014.

The 2021 Atlanta Braves showed how far a midseason makeover can take you. They lost star Ronald Acuña Jr. to an ACL tear before the All-Star break. By that point, they were 44-45, third in the National League East, 4½ games behind first, seven games out of a wild-card spot and had already lost their other two starting outfielders in May. Atlanta traded for Eddie Rosario, Jorge Soler, Joc Pederson and Adam Duvall, with the four playing significant roles in the Braves’ World Series championship run.

It’s also fair to wonder whether the Angels might trade away some of their better players if their season completely unravels by deadline day.


Will Anthony Rendon, Taylor Ward and Jo Adell be available soon?

Angels third baseman Anthony Rendon throws the ball into the crowd.
Angels third baseman Anthony Rendon throws the ball into the crowd in a game against the Texas Rangers on June 13 in Arlington, Texas.
(Gareth Patterson / Associated Press)

When the Angels play Friday, it will have been 10 days since Rendon fouled a ball off his shin, developing a deep bruise and causing enough pain that he needed a crutch to walk; seven days since Ward came out of a game because of a pulled groin; and six days since Adell, who was brought back from triple A after Trout had surgery for a fractured bone in his wrist last week, was removed from a game because of oblique discomfort.

None of the three went on the injured list. The added rest provided by the break could help each one’s recovery, though how much, and how helpful they can be, remain to be seen. Ward was batting .243 with a .695 OPS, 14 doubles, nine home runs and 31 runs batted in. Adell, in five games, batted .231. Rendon has played 43 games because of injury and a brief suspension, batting .236 with six doubles, two home runs and 22 RBIs.


Who could return from the injured list this month?

Angels shortstop Zach Neto throws to first base.
Angels shortstop Zach Neto throws to first base during the eighth inning against the Texas Rangers on June 12 in Arlington, Texas.
(Sam Hodde / Associated Press)

Neto, pitcher Matt Moore (oblique strain) and infielder Brandon Drury (shoulder bruise) are candidates.


Neto and Moore spent the break in Arizona continuing their recovery and ramp-up to return. Drury had a cortisone shot before the break. Neto and Drury had been two of the team’s more consistent hitters. Moore shaped up to be one of the most consistent high-leverage relievers with a 1.44 earned-run average and 12 holds in 22 appearances.


Who could return in August?

Angels' Logan O'Hoppe during the ninth inning of a baseball game.
Angels catcher Logan O’Hoppe runs during the ninth inning against the New York Yankees on April 18 in New York.
(Frank Franklin II / Associated Press)

If the Angels still are in the hunt, the returns of rookie catcher Logan O’Hoppe (labrum surgery) and Trout could be big. O’Hoppe, who went on the IL on April 21, was given an estimated return of four to six months. Trout’s estimated return is four to eight weeks.

O’Hoppe looked like an early rookie-of-the-year candidate, batting .283 with an .886 OPS, two doubles, four home runs and 13 RBIs in 16 games. Trout was batting .263 with an .862 OPS, 14 doubles, 18 home runs and 44 RBIs in 81 games.

Rookie fireballer Ben Joyce (ulnar neuritis) could start throwing off a mound again at the end of July and could return in August.