Not only was Shohei Ohtani one of the top pitchers in MLB this season, but he was also one of the premier hitters in the game, too. He’s the Babe Ruth of the 21st Century.
And he might be on a new team for the 2023 season. It seems unfathomable that the Los Angeles Angels would ship away the game’s transcendent star. But Ohtani is a free agent after 2023. Finances and the potential to reload a terrible farm system (ranked 28th to start ’22) may force their hand.
Angels owner Arte Moreno is a huge Ohtani backer and is considered the key hurdle to moving him. But with reports saying he may be selling the team, the door opens a little wider for a blockbuster deal.
Perhaps more importantly, Ohtani appears unhappy and could bolt as a free agent, thus making a trade the Angels’ best bet. Ohtani, arriving home in Japan, told reporters at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport: “I have a rather negative impression of the season.” It’s a situation that bears watching this offseason as the MLB hot stove heats up.
Bookies.com oddsmaker Adam Thompson has revealed the hypothetical MLB odds for Ohtani’s next team should he get moved prior to next season.
Shohei Ohtani Team For 2023 Odds
What would the Angels possibly be thinking that would make anyone believe Ohtani is a possible trade chip? There are reasons to believe it could happen.
Ohtani is earning $5.5 million this season in arguably one of the biggest bargains in modern sports history. He’s eligible for arbitration next season, meaning he’s under team control, then he becomes an unrestricted free agent for 2024.
Ohtani could command upwards of $30 million in arbitration and could surpass $50 million annually in free agency.
At those numbers, the Angels may not be able to afford him.
Remember, they already have two players making near that now. Mike Trout is locked up through 2030 at a rate of $37.1 million per year. Lest we forget Anthony Rendon, who is tied up through 2026 at a rate of $36.5 million now and jumping to $38.5 million next year.
Rendon has hit 34 home runs in three seasons with the Angels since signing a seven-year, $245 million deal. This after hitting 44 in both 2018 and 2019 for the Nationals. Ouch.
Rendon and Trout rank third and fourth in MLB, respectively, in annual base salary. Can the Angels really afford three of the top five? Probably not.
Rendon is untradeable at this point. So either Ohtani or Mike Trout may have to go. We’ve discussed Trout’s potential trade odds already. Keep in mind, this is an Angels team that isn’t competitive even with these players.
Ohtani has indicated his chief goal is to win games. That’s not happening in Anaheim, but there are several other locales where it could. And Shohei would have a say on where he gets shipped.
Right now, it doesn’t take a team with a mega bankroll to make an Ohtani deal work. It could take a team willing to trade a bunch of good prospects (and potential MLB players), especially pitchers, and in win-now mode for the next season.
Potential Landing Spots For Ohtani
The Mets have made it clear they are interested in Ohtani if he’s available. In terms of available pieces, it’s arguable they have enough to get LA’s interest. They have catcher Francisco Alvarez, the top prospect in all of baseball, and current Mets GM Billy Eppler was GM of the Angels when they successfully recruited Ohtani from Japan.
The Mets are the wild card in this situation, given that Jacob deGrom’s status with the team plays heavily into any efforts to pursue Ohtani. If deGrom opts out, the Mets are in play since all indications are that owner Steve Cohen will spend like crazy in the aftermath of their disappointing finish.
The Dodgers have had an interest in Ohtani since his days in Japan and have loads of talent they could move. The question is whether the team from the county next door, one already considered a “little brother,” would move such a star to their geographic rival.
The Cardinals were considered a strong contender for Juan Soto. That didn’t pan out, but they may turn their attention to Ohtani. St. Louis has a deep roster of trade chips and a roster built to win now. The Cardinals have the chips to contend again in 2023, so they may be involved if Ohtani trade talks get serious.
The White Sox and Rangers, still trying to find the formula for success, have shown an eagerness to make the big move, and they have the prospects to make a deal work.
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