Despite team’s struggles, Los Angeles Angels GM says he sees ‘a formula to win’ around stars Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani will be helping form the American League All-Star Game starting lineup 30 miles from here at Dodger Stadium on July 19, leaning toward potential MVP consideration.

And yet the team they play for, the Los Angeles Angels, is once again on the way to insignificance, sitting 12 games under .500 and eight games behind sixth and final playoff spot, with a hell of a five-game stretch against them Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Barring one stark turnaround, the Angels are on track to miss the postseason for the 12th time in the last 13 years — though Trout has been arguably the sport’s brightest star in 11 of those seasons and Ohtani has served as a transformative two-way player for each of the last two. Trout turns 31 in August. And in 16 months, Ohtani can venture into the free agent market. But Angels general manager Perry Minasian still believes this franchise can compete for its top two players.

“There’s definitely a formula for winning them — and it’s a deeper team,” Minasian said ahead of a 6-5 loss to the Astros. “You can do that in many different ways. Design is part of it, but free hand is part of it, trading is part of it. I definitely see a roadmap to put a competitive team on the field with these guys. “They are great players, they performed really well. I think they deserve all the awards they receive every day. I’m looking forward to seeing them both in the All-Star Game.”

“I think they’re two of the best players in baseball and we’re lucky to have them.”

The Angels were promoted early in the 2022 season, winning 27 of their first 44 games. But that was followed by a mysterious 14-game losing streak that saw Minasian fire Joe Maddon as the team’s manager. The Angels haven’t exactly recovered from that, going 11-20 under interim manager Phil Nevin. The starting rotation, a focus for Minasian in the offseason, has been solid. But the offense – minus Anthony Rendon, who underwent season-ending wrist surgery in mid-June – has struggled mightily, posting the second-lowest OPS in the majors over the past seven weeks despite the continued presence of Trout and Ohtani. (Trout left Tuesday’s game with upper back spasms, but Nevin told reporters he didn’t think the injury was serious enough to warrant a stint on the injured list.)

“It’s on me,” Minasian said. “One hundred percent on me. I’m responsible for the squad. Coaches can only work with what I give them. I’m very aware of that.”

The trading market is expected to recover after the close of next week’s draft. At this point, teams will no doubt be expressing interest in the Angels’ Noah Syndergaard and Michael Lorenzen – capable starting pitchers who are also in line for free agents. Opting not to specify whether he would seek to add experienced players or use his current veterans to build the minor league system, Minasian said he would “look for ways to make the club better, whether in the short or long term.” .”

The question circling the Angels is whether they would consider trading Ohtani (who is only under team control until 2023) or Trout, who is under contract until 2030 and must agree to any trade. But that scenario — if even contemplated — would likely not manifest itself until the off-season, when more teams could theoretically get in on it.

“I’m not going to talk about specific people,” Minasian said when asked about his star swap. “Teams will call and ask for everyone. If you have really good players on your team, most of the time you will be called and asked about them. They don’t hang up the phone on themselves, but some players are harder to trade than others, obviously.” Despite team’s struggles, Los Angeles Angels GM says he sees ‘a formula to win’ around stars Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani

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