One of the biggest questions in MLB’s offseason is where Shohei Ohtani will play in 2023. Los Angeles Angels general manager Perry Minasian is doing his best to throw cold water on that speculation.
In a meeting with reporters on Monday, Minasian said Ohtani will not be traded in the offseason and will start next season as a member of the Angels, per Sarah Valenzuela of the Los Angeles Times.
Ohtani signed a one-year, $30 million contract to avoid arbitration next year, his final season before being eligible for what is sure to be lucrative free agency. His value to the Angels is obvious, his 2021 MVP-winning season was the best two-way performance MLB has ever seen and he was arguably a better player this year.
Minasian could very well be telling the truth – Ohtani is hugely important not only to winning, but also to the Angels’ ultimate goal of having butts in the seats and eyeballs on TV – but what he said on Monday is no different than what he would say if he had fully planned to trade Ohtani.
The Angels have no incentive to let fans think they’re about to trade their most exciting player, not when season tickets are still on sale, and they have no incentive to signal to executives. from MLB (and to the media) that an Ohtani trade is clearly going on. We saw a similar story play out with Juan Soto and the Washington Nationals, as Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo dismissed the possibility of a trade in June, then sent Soto to the San Diego Padres about a year ago. months later.
If you are trading Shohei Ohtani, the best position to have is that bidders think you are not sold trading Shohei Ohtani. Although the Angels have many reasons to trade Shohei Ohtani.
Why the Angels would trade Shohei Ohtani
You don’t have to be a genius to see the case for swapping Ohtani.
Ohtani is a very good baseball player. The Angels have been a very bad team since coming on board, and they plan to be bad again next season. They finished this season with a 73-89 record and would need huge free agent wins to improve a roster that already has $169 million in salary on the books for 2023.
They could and should try to sign Ohtani for an extension, but it takes two games for that to happen, and Ohtani has been signaling for over a year that he intends to test the free agent market. Asked about the prospect of staying in Anaheim long-term, he said he wanted to win more than he liked the Angels. When asked again in July, he hesitated and simply said “Right now I’m an angel.”
Those aren’t the words of someone who is fully considering signing an extension anytime in the next year, and it’s hard to blame one of baseball’s best players for wanting to make the playoffs in the least once in his MLB career.
Trading Ohtani would be painful for the Angels and their fans, but seeing him go to free agency for nothing more than a compensatory draft pick would be far worse. It’s also worth noting that a major reason Ohtani hasn’t been traded yet is that current Angels owner Arte Moreno opposes the idea, and Moreno is currently considering selling the team.
What could the Angels get from an Ohtani trade?
In short, a lot.
The Nationals have had five players who are either top prospects or recently top prospects, plus first base hire Luke Voit, for Soto and Josh Bell, though that’s for Soto’s 2 1/2 and a half seasons. bell season. The Angels have a season of Ohtani available to the highest bidder, but the malleability of Ohtani’s value is a major boon to them given that almost any resourced candidate could use both a starting pitcher and a batter. appointed, unless they already have a well-established DH. .
If the Angels were to trade Ohtani, they would be announcing their lack of contention for 2023, so they would be looking for young prospects, as often happens with rebuilding teams. What those packages look like is ultimately up to the Angels and another team, but we’re almost certainly talking about multiple top-100 prospects as a starting line, just like with Soto.
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