Angels are asking for offers on Shohei Ohtani

A deadline season that already features one of the most high-profile trade candidates John Soto Let’s add one more to the list. John Heyman and Joel Sherman of the New York Post report While a deal was ultimately unlikely, the Angels didn’t turn away interested teams as they made inquiries and submitted trade proposals for the two-way star and reigning AL MVP. Shohei Ohtani. Teams that have approached the Angels have spoken with three executives in the Post Twins, all of whom say the chances of a trade are slim because of the surprisingly large asking price.

The mere notion of an Ohtani trade will spark a frenzy of speculation and wishful thinking — and with good reason. The 28-year-old is in the midst of another incredible season, pitching to a 2.81 ERA with a 36.4% strikeout rate and a 5.8% walk rate through 99 1/3 innings. He is hitting .254/.349/.486 with 21 home runs and 11 stolen bases. Last season, Ohtani hit .256/.363/.550 with 67 home runs in 1052 plate appearances while pitching 229 2/3 innings of 3.02 ERA ball with a 32.3% strikeout rate. It’s a legitimately historic show that current fans have never seen in their lifetime.

That the angels would at least ask is certainly worth noting and only understandable in light of another disastrous season. Despite Ohtani and the three-time MVP Mike Trout Completing the list, the Halos sit at a 42-57 record and have already all but eliminated themselves from postseason contention. Incredibly, that’s a common refrain in Anaheim, where the Angels haven’t reached the playoffs since 2014 — three seasons before Ohtani’s MLB debut. Recurring injuries up and down the pitching staff have continued to coincide with the immediate declines of high-priced stars. Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols And Anthony Rendon The Angels should leave with a great roster that rarely even sniffs playoff contention.

Ohtani, meanwhile, has been arguably the biggest bargain in the game since his arrival on the scene. Instead of waiting until he qualified as a professional player on the international market (age 25), he wanted to make the jump to Major League Baseball at age 23. In doing so, Ohtani knowingly left hundreds of millions of dollars on the table to expedite his path to the world’s best league, subject to the international bonus pool restrictions that govern MLB teams signing amateur players.

Shockingly at the time, Ohtani was able to position himself for a historic deal before long. He’s currently in his second year of arbitration eligibility at a $5MM salary, but he’ll get a massive raise this winter and is eligible to become a free agent after the 2023 season. Any team that submits an offer for Ohtani will do so knowing that they can only control him for a season and a half, and that the right to do so would cost a large chunk of the farm system. An executive who spoke to Heyman and Sherman noted that the Angels “wanted something like your top four prospects” in exchange for Ohtani’s final season-plus club control.

However, the Angels have a dilemma as the rest of the control dwindles. On the one hand, it’s easy to say they should be willing to do whatever it takes to ink Ohtani to the historic contract extension he absolutely commands. Meanwhile, the Angels already have both Trout and Renton on the books for more than $35MM in futures — Renton through 2026, Trout through 2030. Ohtani will undoubtedly add another $35MM salary to the ledger. (probably north of that amount)

It would be a reasonable cost, but it takes two to make a deal. Ohtani has spoken several times in the past about his desire to play for a contending club and reach the MLB postseason, and has stumbled through a hard-hitting ineffectiveness during his time with the Angels organization. Ohtani, when asked last night about wanting to stay with the Angels long-term told The Athletic’s Sam Bloom:

“Wherever I play, I want to give it my all, try to win the ball game that’s in front of me. I’m with the Angels now, and I’m very grateful for what they did. I love the team so much. I love my teammates. Now I’m an Angel, and at this point I really can’t. can focus.”

Far from a direct announcement that he hopes to be traded, it’s notable that Ohtani has not expressed any hope of staying with the Angels long-term when given the opportunity. Maybe the record-setting offer will lead to another deal, but that’s impossible to know. When discussing MLB contracts, it’s generally fair to assume that money wins at the end of the day. However, as mentioned earlier, Ohtani already gave up a $200MM+ contract as an international free agent to sign for a $2.315MM signing bonus once – which isn’t even the highest bonus available to him. Original contract with the Angels in 2017.

While it’s unlikely a deal will come together in such a short period of time, it’s a fascinating twist in what’s already shaping up to be one of the most interesting deadlines in MLB history. That usually sets the stage for unbridled chaos in the final 48 to 72 hours leading up to Tuesday’s 6 p.m. ET deadline.

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