Shohei Ohtani Had a "Rather Negative Impression" of the Angels Season - Can We Start Dreaming About a Trade Again?

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Shohei Ohtani Had a “Rather Negative Impression” of the Angels Season – Can We Start Dreaming About a Trade Again?

Chicago Cubs

There was a time not so long ago that I was pretty well convinced that the Los Angeles Angels would make Shohei Ohtani available in trade this offseason, assuming they could not get an extension together. Ohtani is so uniquely valuable that the haul for him could remake an organization that is desperately in need of some kind of fundamental change. There was even speculation about the Cubs, specifically.

Having already avoided arbitration for next year at $30 million, his final year before free agency, it seemed all the more likely that the Angels were setting themselves up to have the cleanest path toward trading Ohtani.

But then a report came out that suggested the Angels could be leveraging Ohtani’s singular nature in their team sale negotiations, including with a “major Japanese company” in on the bidding. That doesn’t happen if there is any chance, at all, that the front office has been given the green light to engage in trade talks. My optimism about Ohtani being traded this offseason really sank.

I’d say I still don’t think a trade is likely, but this is certainly an interesting new wrinkle:

Is this enough of a crack in the door for me to start getting optimistic again?

Ohtani is not likely to say publicly that he wants to be traded, but expressing his unhappiness with how things went this year on the Angels sure comes close (especially when combined with the fact that the sides have apparently never been on the same page about an extension). Maybe Ohtani would, himself, really like to be traded somewhere this offseason. And if he is, you better believe the acquiring team is going to instantly try to extend him on a monster deal.

I’m trying to sort out in my head how this could lead to a trade – I think the Angels would have to know they have a buyer lined up that *isn’t* going to have a problem with Ohtani being dealt, and it’s still hard for me to see that happening with enough certainty by, like, January. Maybe. But I’m not getting my hopes up. Let’s call it fractionally more optimistic than I was earlier this morning.

*IFFFFFFFFF* Ohtani, 28, does become available in trade, though, the Chicago Cubs absolutely must be all over that. As I got into before:

In trading for Ohtani, the Cubs would be hitting two enormous and difficult boxes to check: they need an ace and they need a big-time impact lefty bat. Getting them both in one player is a dream scenario, and is why Ohtani is so uniquely valuable.

That, in turn, though is why the price tag in trade would be significant, even for only one year of team control (and it’s likely to be a pricey year in arbitration, relatively speaking).

Morosi speculated that the Angels would want a quality emerging young talent like Justin Steele plus a haul of prospects on top of that, and, if so, he thought that might be too much to be worth it.

He might be right on that, depending on the prospects in the deal, but let me say this: the Cubs wouldn’t be trading for Shohei Ohtani at this time if they weren’t incredibly intent on trying to extend him right away. You don’t “pay” for that in your trade package, mind you, but if you felt an extension was likely, you might be more comfortable with a trade cost that otherwise makes you squirm.

And here’s where some of you say: just wait a year. Don’t give up a ton in trade. Just wait until after 2023, and sign Ohtani to a monster contract in free agency.

I get the logic, but I can’t shake the feeling – as it was with guys like Mookie Betts and Francisco Lindor – that if Ohtani is traded this offseason, he’s not going to reach free agency. Any team ponying up to get Ohtani this winter is going to be hell bent on extending him thereafter. He’s such a transcendent talent that he kind of defies any other logic – you pay him whatever it takes to secure the next, say, six or seven seasons. Heck, if it takes longer than that (it will), then you sign that deal today, knowing that the back-end may be rough if he starts to break down.

Throw in the fact that the Cubs were a previous finalist for Ohtani, and perhaps there is a little more comfort there that he would be interested in an extension? This is sounding very good and realistic to me, even if you could never call something like this likely.

There is risk, of course. Tons of it. And there are nits if you want to pick them. Ohtani is no longer that young, as he’ll turn 29 next summer. He’s already had one major arm surgery, and a lot of his offensive value comes from his incredible speed, which is likely to start to turn. The bat this year has been closer to “great” than “elite.” The Angels have used him as a DH-only, and you might not be willing to even try him in the outfield because of the pitching value. (I don’t have many nits to pick on the pitching, itself, though, as Ohtani has really broken out this year on that side of the ball. He’s such a freaking studly ace.)

Absorbing a lot of risk is the only way to get a player like Ohtani, however. A guy who can impact you SIGNIFICANTLY on both sides of the ball. A guy who should rightly be the MVP any year he’s healthy, since he’s giving you two times the stud in a single roster spot. A guy who is an international MEGA-STAR. A guy who could be associated with your organization forever if he puts together another decade of greatness from here.

The shorter version? You risk it all for Shohei Ohtani. He is that unique, that valuable, and the opportunity here is that rare. If he becomes available, you throw the most aggressive of elbows to be involved in those talks.



Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.