Perry Minasian still sees Angels winning with both Ohtani and Trout

Angels general manager Perry Minasian said he still sees a way in which this team can win with both Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani under contract.

“There’s definitely a formula to win around them and it’s a deeper team,” Minasian said before the team’s 6-5 loss to the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium on Tuesday.

Making trades, getting players in free agency and drafting for their future were the three ways he listed as building that depth.

The first day of Major League Baseball’s amateur draft is Sunday, the trade deadline this year is Aug. 2 and eligible players become free agents after the World Series.

“I definitely see a roadmap to putting a competitive team on the field with those guys,” Minasian said. “They’re great players, they’ve really performed well. I think they deserve all the accolades they get daily. I’m looking forward to watching both of them in the All-Star Game.

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

Trout is in the fourth season of a 12-year, $426.5 million deal with the Angels. He left in the middle of Tuesday’s game with what the team said were upper back spasms. Monte Harrison replaced him at center field in the fifth inning.

Ohtani — the reigning American League most valuable player — is in the last year of a two-year deal worth $8.5 million. He is eligible for a final year of salary arbitration and then can become a free agent after the 2023 season.

Minasian said the Angels have been focused on the draft first, but he knows trade talk will heat up once that concludes.

Asked about the possibility of trading away any of his big-ticket players, Minasian repeated that he would not speak about specific players. He did say that calls come in to any team that has players of the caliber of Trout and Ohtani.

“If there’s really good players on your team, for the most part, you get called and asked about them,” Minasian said. “So you don’t hang up the phone per se, but some players are harder to trade than others, obviously.”

As far as being a buyer or seller at the trade deadline, Minasian said he did not like those words, adding later that “rebuild” was also a strange term for him. He clarified that the team generally looks for ways to improve either in the short term or long term if certain opportunities make sense.

Minasian has not given up on this season, which has 74 games left after Tuesday, but he knows and feels the frustration throughout the club over all the losses.

“Obviously not fun to watch,” Minasian said. “We’ve really struggled at the plate. I mean, offensively we’ve had a rough month and a half. There’s no secrets.”

Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani high-fives center fielder Mike Trout after the team's 5-2 win against the Miami Marlins.

Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani, left, high-fives center fielder Mike Trout after the team’s 5-2 win against the Miami Marlins on July 6 in Miami.

(Lynne Sladky / Associated Press)

Beyond the team’s struggles is still the question of how another losing record would impact its chances of getting Ohtani to re-sign on a longer deal. Ohtani said last year that winning is “the biggest thing” for him.

Minasian said the losses don’t only have an effect on Ohtani wanting to stay, but on the whole team.

The Angels started the season 27-17 and have gone 11-33 since the hot start.

“You always look back to … what could I have done differently? Where did it go wrong? But the responsibility lies on me,” Minasian said. “I’m in charge of the roster. Our depth is not good enough, has not been good enough.”

That lack of depth has made the injuries to key starters such as third baseman Anthony Rendon (wrist), shortstop/second baseman David Fletcher (thighs, abdominal muscles), and most recently to reliever Archie Bradley (elbow) and starting pitcher Michael Lorenzen (shoulder), that much harder on the team.

The GM also said although he believes players can improve, there are those who have not played to their capabilities despite putting in the work.

He did not single out anyone specifically.

Minasian also called out the struggling offense, particularly the bottom of the lineup.

On Tuesday those players helped spark a late-inning comeback aided by a couple of Astros fielding and pitching mistakes.

The Angels loaded the bases in the seventh inning after back-to-back throwing errors allowed Max Stassi and then Jonathan Villar to reach second base on a fielder’s choice.

One run scored after Brandon Marsh was hit by a pitch by Phil Maton.

David MacKinnon pinch-hit for Harrison, knocking in two more runs before a passed ball by catcher Martin Maldonado allowed Marsh to come home to tie it at 5-5.

But the Astros responded in the top of the ninth against closer Raisel Iglesias.

José Altuve led off with a walk and moved to third on a single by Aledmys Díaz. Kyle Tucker then doubled to right to drive in Altuve with what proved to be the winning run.

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Interim manager Phil Nevin said after the game he didn’t like the way Trout was moving in center field. He made the call to pull Trout before the top of the fifth. Nevin said Trout was trying to stretch his back after his second at-bat.

Trout did some tests with athletic trainer Mike Frostad, which did not show structural issues, the manager said. He is not expected to go on the injured list but will be evaluated day to day.

Elsewhere, Lorenzen, a The right-hander, played catch Tuesday and felt good afterward, according to Nevin. Lorenzen’s ramp-up process should be quick and he should return not too long after the All-Star break.

Fletcher started his rehab assignment with triple-A Salt Lake on Tuesday, batting in the leadoff spot and playing second base. He played three innings, going 0 for 2.

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