How are the angels doing now that Ohtani is gone? Baseball is not a priority for Rendon. Trout might want out

By | March 5, 2024

Los Angeles Angels' Mike Trout signs autographs prior to a spring baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Tempe, Arizona.  (AP Photo/Matt York)

Media magnet Shohei Ohtani left Anaheim for Los Angeles, where he was greeted at Chavez Ravine as if he were descending from above.

Angels owner Arte Moreno refused to match the Dodgers’ $700 million offer and Ohtani’s departure not only left huge holes in the lineup and starting rotation, but also opened up many seats in the press box. Nearly 40 Japanese media members followed Ohtani on Highway 5 from the “Big A” to Dodger Stadium.

Ohtani had a whopping 34.7 Wins Above Replacement in six seasons with the Angels, who nevertheless posted a losing record in all six seasons. What could be interesting this spring without the two-way star?

Well, it’s not as newsless as expected. Here’s a quick look at the Angels’ offseason and spring training bullet points.

Read more: Albert Pujols, in the Angels camp as a guest instructor, aspires to another title: Manager

November 9: The unapologetically positive Ron Washington is hired to replace the fired Phil Nevin as manager, bringing the number of black managers in the MLB to two after Dusty Baker retired. The number of black managers in Southern California? Two, with Washington joining Dave Roberts of the Dodgers.

February 14th: A year after Moreno changed his mind about selling the team and took the Angels off the market, he tells the Orange County Register, “I’m here for the long haul.” He does leave the door ajar and says, ‘I’m a businessman. If someone gets really stupid, then you have to go.’ Moreno, who paid $183.5 million for the team in 2003, said a year ago that he had rejected an offer worth more than $3 billion, so it’s hard to imagine what a “really stupid” offer would be.

February 19: Spring training begins and the players exude excitement, with the exception of part-time Angels employee Anthony Rendon. The oft-injured third baseman, who has played in just 200 of the Angels’ 546 games since signing a seven-year, $245 million contract before the 2020 season, told reporters that baseball has “never been a top priority for me.” I do this to make a living.”

Not since JD Drew has a player with so much talent shown such a lack of enthusiasm. Rendon’s comments came as no surprise, however. Days earlier, he said on a podcast, “We gotta shorten the season, man. There’s too many dang games.”

Read more: Full coverage: Shohei Ohtani signs recording contract with Dodgers

February 19: Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Angels clubhouse, superstar Mike Trout pushed open the door on a potential trade for the first time, saying, “Maybe later if things change.” Trout, 32, signed a 12-year contract worth $426.5 million in 2019 and has spent his entire 13-year career with the Angels.

February 19: Trout tries to convince Moreno to sign free agents, saying, “I’m going to keep pushing as long as I can, until the season starts or until those guys sign.” Right now, “those guys” are down to standout starting pitchers Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery, downmarket starters Mike Clevinger and Michael Lorenzen, and extremely old starters Zack Grienke, Johnny Cueto, and Rich Hill. Designated hitter J.D. Martinez is also available, though the Angels prefer to keep the DH spot open so Rendon and Trout can rest their legs while still getting at-bats.

The Angels’ free-agent signings so far include relievers Robert Stephenson, Matt Moore and Adam Kolarek, reclamation starter Zach Plesac and backup outfielder Aaron Hicks.

March 5th: First baseman Miguel Sanó stands out as the most promising of a number of minor league free agents signed by the Angels. Sanó, once one of the most feared power hitters in baseball, told the Athletic that he has lost 58 pounds and is trying to revive his career at age 30.

Read more: MLB free agent tracker: Elite starters Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery remain unsigned

Other former major league position players trying to earn a roster spot include corner infielder/outfielder Hunter Dozier, whom the Kansas City Royals are paying $9 million after releasing him last May; veteran reserve outfielders Jake Marisnick and Willie Calhoun; and a good pitch, no-hit shortstop Richie Martin.

An intriguing bullpen piece could be left-hander Drew Pomeranz, who spent the past two seasons recovering from a torn flexor tendon. He was a starter early in his career, going 17-6 for the Boston Red Sox in 2017 and posting a 1.62 earned run rating with the San Diego Padres in 2020 and 2021 after becoming a reliever.

All of this makes for a mixed bag less than a month after opening day. But despite the scars of eight consecutive losing seasons, Angels fans continue to believe. Athletic’s annual Hope-O-Meter poll of fans is underway, and last year 81.4% of Angels fans were optimistic about the team’s fate. Amazingly, that was higher than Dodgers fans (75.6%).

Read more: Angels try to cast their curse on waivers while Shohei Ohtani, Mike Trout are on the shelf

Last year, of course, the Angels had Ohtani and still went 73-89.

Much of the at-bats this spring have gone to a group of promising young players: shortstop Zach Neto, first baseman Nolan Schanuel, catcher Logan O’Hoppe and outfielders Mickey Moniak and Jo Adell. Any optimism from the Angels faithful must be based on the players getting results, Trout and Rendon staying healthy and Rendon prioritizing his chosen profession.

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This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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