The Los Angeles Angels should have traded Shohei Ohtani. It's a sentence Angels fans probably don't want to read, and that's understandable. But the Halos have been stuck in the middle of mediocrity for years now, and the team needs to hit the reset button.

In 2023, the Halos feature one of the best rosters they've had since they last made the playoffs in 2014. Yet, as of this story's publication, they are in fourth place in the AL West and hold a 56-54 record. It's almost impossible to believe that a team that features two of MLB's best players hasn't made the playoffs in almost ten years. So how can the Angels fix their situation?

The harsh reality is that an Ohtani trade would have gone a long way toward helping the Halos bounce back and build a winning ball club. The truth is that the Angels should have traded him during the offseason or even last year when his value would have brought back no shortage of top-tier prospects.

Now, with Ohtani sticking out his tenure in Anaheim amid his looming free agency, we are going to take a look at why Mike Trout and the Angels' future is hopeless as a result of the team's decision not to trade the two-way phenom.

Angels' future after not trading Shohei Ohtani

Angels, Mike Trout

In sports, teams need to struggle mightily before they get better most of the time. In some sports, however, signing a superstar or two can change a team's fortune. That isn't the case in MLB though.

When it comes to baseball, developing prospects and balancing out a roster are crucial elements to finding sustained success. In 2023, the New York Mets and San Diego Padres spent heavily in free agency and neither team has found success during the season up to this point. Meanwhile, teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves had quieter offseasons but are in first place in their respective divisions because they've both built a steady core of players over the years.

So how does this relate to Shohei Ohtani and the Angels?

The Angels haven't been the worst team in baseball over the past nine years. They've consistently finished right in the middle of the AL West. Los Angeles hasn't been good enough to reach the playoffs, but also not bad enough to warrant a full rebuild. With Mike Trout on the roster, the Halos have felt fairly optimistic before each season, but their lack of developed players and a balanced roster has kept them in the midst of mediocrity.

By failing to trade Shohei Ohtani, the Angels missed out on acquiring key prospects that could have served a valuable role down the road in helping the Angels turn the ship around.

Why the Angels didn't trade Ohtani

The decision not to trade Ohtani could be argued as a win-based move. However, and this is purely speculation, but one can't help but wonder if the financial element played a role.

Angels fans are going to still come to Angel Stadium even if the team struggles as long as Ohtani is on the field. Trading Ohtani, however, would have led to a decrease in attendance. The ball club obviously didn't want that.

But winning surely played a role as well. Despite the Angels' middle-of-the-pack standings placement ahead of the trade deadline, the team's front office may have felt as if the team had a chance to make a postseason run and snap their playoff drought. But even if the Angels reach the 2023 playoffs, that doesn't mean Ohtani won't sign elsewhere in the offseason.

The ultimate goal is to win the World Series. Perhaps it can be argued that not trading Ohtani was worth it if the Angels bring home a Fall Classic championship this season. Anything less than a World Series victory though will be considered a failure if Ohtani leaves. The argument that snapping a playoff drought excuses not trading Ohtani simply doesn't hold up if he departs during the offseason.

Is Ohtani going to leave the Angels?

Angels, Shohei Ohtani

Shohei Ohtani isn't guaranteed to leave the Angels. He hasn't discussed much about his future. Reports have stated that Ohtani wants to win though. Making the playoffs would probably increase the Angels' odds of re-signing him, but Ohtani would still potentially leave nonetheless.

Teams such as the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, Baltimore Orioles, and many others are all expected to purse him. Organizations that feature a track record of sustained success will earn a crucial advantage in free agency talks.

In the end, the Angels' future is hopeless right now, unless they re-sign Shohei Ohtani. That point may seem harsh but the Angels need to wake up and face the reality. The way they've been trying to win simply hasn't worked.

It's time to rebuild this roster and start from scratch.