For the two-way star, another average team-wide campaign in Southern California could very well lead to his departure in free agency this coming winter.
Ohtani has made it clear that he wants to be on a contending team. Since joining the Angels from his native Japan back in 2018, that has not been the case. In fact, he has not played in a single playoff game during his time with the Angels.
Should Los Angeles’ struggles continue and they find themselves out contention by the Aug. 1 MLB trade deadline, there’s a good chance that the Angels look to trade him.
ESPN insider Jeff Passan touched on this Thursday, making it clear that a trade could be in the cards. In doing so, he listed the aforementioned Yankees as one of five likely suitors for Ohtani.
“If the Angels fall out of contention … and it’s more of the same that has been over the last five years he’s been there, he Shohei Ohtani could be traded and he will definitely leave,” Passan said about a potential Ohtani trade. “Seeing him do everything he’s being doing for the last three years when he has been the best player on the planet shows you why the Los Angeles Dodgers, the New York Mets are going to be the two teams that are butting heads with the Giants, the Yankees, the Mariners.”
There are several factors that could lead to an Ohtani blockbuster ahead of Aug. 1. As Passan notes, further struggles from the Angels could force their hands. Why let him leave for free during the winter when you can add assets to the mix?
Secondly, a report ahead of the MLB season indicated that Ohtani could be looking at a $600-plus million contract in free agency. It’s a total the Angels won’t be able to match.
Shohei Ohtani trade rumors will continue to heat up
Obviously, the Yankees are not going to be the only team in on Ohtani either ahead of the trade deadline or during free agency.
As mentioned above, the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, San Francisco Giants and Seattle Mariners will also show interest. San Francisco is an interesting option, too, given that it barely missed out on landing Aaron Judge from the Yankees last offseason.
In reality, only larger-market squads are going to be able to acquire Ohtani and sign him to a deal that would be the richest in North American professional sports history.
For good reason. Ohtani is right up there with Judge as the most impactful hitter in the game. He’s also among the best starters in baseball, making the veteran more than a generational talent.
- Shohei Ohtani pitching stats (2022): 15-9 record, 2.33 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 11.9 K/9
- Shohei Ohtani hitting stats (2022): .273 average, 34 HR, 95 RBI, .875 OPS
Any team acquiring Ohtani would be getting a premium hitter and a premium pitcher. There is no comparison when it comes to that type of market. Hence, the $600 million figure bandied about above.
The larger-scale question is whether Los Angeles falls out of contention and decides it makes sense to add assets for Ohtani.
Then again, a move of this ilk could force another star Angels player in that of Mike Trout to reassess his future in Southern California.
It’s a complicated situation, one that will continue to make headlines around MLB as the season continues.