Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve known for years that at some point, the wheels would finally fall off the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

And on Dec. 11, months after a 73 win season, it finally happened. Two-time MVP and two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani drove 30 minutes up US-101 to Dodger Stadium and signed a record-setting contract. A once-in-a-generation talent did his rookie bid in Anaheim, then departed for greener, er, bluer pastures.

Meanwhile, Angels ownership seems delusional as ever and keeps staying the course while Mike Trout continues to trend more towards being the best player to never win a World Series, let alone compete in one! Eat your heart out, Ernie Banks.

The team’s only saving grace at this point is that they’re still better than the lowly Oakland/Las Vegas A’s by a wide margin. Yet, knowing owner Arte Moreno’s habits, it won’t be long before the Angels sink that far.

Greatest Addition: Ron Washington. Give general manager Perry Minasian this much credit. He certainly could have done worse than hiring Ron Washington to manage a soon-to-be rebuilding squad. Wash is on the older side at 71, but remains popular and respected among players. He spent the last seven years as the Braves’ third base coach and won a World Series ring in 2021.

Let’s not forget that Washington also guided the Texas Rangers through a rebuild and took them to two consecutive World Series within his first five years on the job. Texas lost both times, but only on account of lights-out San Francisco Giants pitching and World Series magic favoring the Cardinals. Even though they declined hard after that, Washington’s earned another chance in the big chair.

Moreover, given the Angels’ current state, who manages them doesn’t really matter.

Greatest Loss: Shohei Ohtani. This was, in a word, devastating. The Angels could have built a dynasty around Ohtani, the absolute best baseball player in the world. There was just one problem: Moreno and former general manager Billy Eppler went all-in on free agency and in turn gutted the Angels’ farm system. The same once-heralded minor league system that produced Angels favorites like Tim Salmon, John Lackey and, of course, Trout.

Ohtani now gets to spend the rest of his career with the Dodgers, the best-run organization in baseball bar none. The Angels, meanwhile, owe Trout nearly $250 million for seven more years, and with little to no talent around him.

Greatest Strength: Nolan Schanuel. Losing Ohtani means some Angels youngsters need to step up fast and as of now, Schanuel seems in the best position to do so. He was only just drafted out of Florida Atlantic last year, then hit .365 in 22 games across three minor league levels before debuting.

And despite rushing to the main roster faster than Leonardo DiCaprio towards blonde supermodels, Nolan Schanuel actually wasn’t bad. He managed a .275/.402/.530 line with a homer and six RBI in 29 games. All signs point to him being the Opening Day first baseman. Add young catcher Logan O’Hoppe coming back from shoulder surgery, and the next Halos’ core may be closer than we think.

Greatest Weakness: Anthony Rendon. Where to begin with this guy? Anthony Rendon is a textbook example of everything that is wrong with Arte Moreno owning this team. The Nationals’ former star third baseman signed a seven-year, $245 million contract with the Angels ahead of the 2020 season. He has appeared in 200 games in four years.

Even worse is Rendon just doesn’t seem to care. A combination of injuries and attitude have him looking like one of the worst free agency signings in baseball history. He truly doesn’t even seem to like baseball either. And yet, because of the money involved, the Angels are stuck with him.

Luckily, while Anthony Rendon certainly hasn’t made the Angels better, he won’t make them any worse. That might require actually taking the field.

Is there any path to the Angels’ redemption? Yes, a full-blown rebuild. That means making the hard decisions and, for starters, either buying Rendon out or cutting him outright and eating the money. Then, in an even tougher call, try and figure out Mike Trout’s trade market. He’s still good enough that at least one team will empty its farm system and then some for him.

That’s really the only way. Minasian must bite the bullet and crawl through three, maybe even five years of s**t-smelling, losing and rebuilding foulness one can’t even imagine, let alone want to. Who is this team, the Pittsburgh Pirates?

No, they’re the Los Angeles Angels and they play in baseball’s second-largest market. If it takes losing to start winning again, then that’s what the team has to do.

Just don’t tell Arte Moreno.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.