The trade deadline was an exciting time for some of the top contending teams around Major League Baseball, but with the Los Angeles Angels, there were periods of time when a possible Shohei Ohtani trade was certainly on the table.
The talk of MLB was the Juan Soto and Josh Bell trade from the Washington Nationals to the San Diego Padres in exchange for Luke Voit, shortstop C.J. Abrams, outfielders James Wood and Robert Hassell III, and both Mackenzie Gore and Jarlin Susana. The bulk of the deal was for the latter five players from the Padres’ prospect pool, which was more than any other team offered.
But this return impacts the Angels because Soto is a once in a generation-type player, given his production at an incredibly young age. No matter how you define a blue-chip guy, he is it, there is no one more advanced than he is at that young of an age.
With how the Angels’ season peaked and collapsed, general manager Perry Minasian saw the talk of baseball was Soto and if he was going to be moved, he had to consider if moving Ohtani was a move that would push their franchise in a better direction. Padres G.M. A.J. Preller explained how in-depth conversations with the Angels became, via ‘The Show’ podcast:
“There were some incredible conversations internally. When you’re talking about those two alien type players, it’s kind of like those sports talk radio debates we’re having in our room. ‘Which one of the two? Could we do both?’ I think ultimately in that situation, the one thing we got a feel for was that if they did go down that path, we were going to be in the game. Maybe with some different players too. There were guys that both teams had interest in and there were guys that each team valued a little differently… With the Angels, it was kind of like ‘Hey, let’s kind of consider it.’ And ultimately, they weren’t sure if they were actually going to put him on the market and make a deal.”
Comparing both Soto and Ohtani in regards to their talent would be disingenuous because they are all-world players. Ohtani has as good of two-way ability as MLB has seen since Babe Ruth and Soto’s prowess in the batter’s box is commonly aligned with that of Ted Williams.
The Nationals had extenuating circumstances with their franchise’s ownership that forced them into a corner with having to move Soto once he turned down the team’s 15-year, $440 million offer, the Angels don’t have that pressure.
Minasian would’ve had to be blown away by an offer to move Ohtani with one year remaining and still the possibility to offer him a lucrative long-term contract. He didn’t receive that offer.
Ohtani could seek upwards of $50 million a year in next deal
The Angels have one year to try and convince Ohtani to stay because when Ohtani does hit free agency in the winter of 2023-24, he reportedly is going to command the highest AAV (average annual value) in the history of the sport.
It’s unclear if the Angels would even be willing to pay such a high price tag to keep Ohtani. And if they did, it would become nearly impossible to build a contending roster around him, Mike Trout, and Anthony Rendon with their combined annual salaries likely stretching past $110 million.
However, rumors state that Moreno would never consider trading Ohtani unless the two-way superstar openly expressed his desire to be dealt or made a proclamation that he would not re-sign under any circumstances.
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