The Angels have listened to offers on reigning AL MVP Shohei Ohtani for the past several days, but Jon Heyman of the New York Post reports that they’re no longer doing so. The Yankees, Padres and White Sox were among the teams to submit trade offers for Ohtani, per the report, but Heyman writes that owner Arte Moreno ultimately proved “unwilling” to part with Ohtani.
The fact that Ohtani is staying put is hardly shocking. Even when reports emerged of that the Angels were listening to trade offers, it still seemed unlikely that a deal would come together. Given Ohtani’s unprecedented contributions to the team in recent years, it was always expected that a massive package would have to be put on the table in order for the Angels to pull the trigger on a deal. With the Angels mired in another miserable season that’s seen them fall well out of contention, it made sense to listen to offers on the superstar given that he’s now just over a year away from free agency. Despite those three clubs apparently putting together serious offers, it seems none of them were close to the understandably high asking price of the Angels.
The reigning AL MVP, Ohtani is putting together another historic season to add to his already impressive list of accolades. His power has fallen off slightly, as his 22 home runs on the year puts him on pace to fall short of last year’s 46. But apart from that, his .255/.352/.495 slash line this year isn’t too far from last year’s .257/.372/.592. His 135 wRC+ this year is seventeen points behind last year, but still 35% better than the league average hitter. On the pitching side of things, he’s actually improved relative to the previous season. He’s dropped his ERA from 3.18 to 2.81, increased his strikeout rate from 29.3% to 36.4% and lowered his walk rate from 8.3% to 5.8%.
Given that he’s producing excellent results on both sides of the ball and making a modest $5.5MM salary, it’s hard to fathom a team that wouldn’t be interested in making use of his services. The Yankees are known to be looking for rotation help, having checked in on some of the top available names like Frankie Montas and Luis Castillo, before the latter was traded to the Mariners. They’ve also checked in on offensive upgrades, recently acquiring Andrew Benintendi. Acquiring Ohtani would have crowded the DH mix a little, though the Yanks were surely willing to find a way to work with that situation for such a historic player.
The Padres already have a rotation surplus but have been considering trading away from it as a way to reduce their payroll commitments. It’s possible that they could have combined an Ohtani trade with a trade of Blake Snell or Mike Clevinger, in order to get Ohtani into the rotation and then also upgrade the lineup.
The White Sox have a solid five-man rotation right now but have been exploring the market for upgrades anyway, with Michael Kopech perhaps working his way towards some load management as the season goes on. He’s already thrown 88 1/3 innings this year after only throwing 69 1/3 frames over the three previous seasons combined.
Regardless of how much sense Ohtani would have made for those teams, it doesn’t appear as though the Angels came close to a deal that they gave serious consideration to. It’s perfectly logical for them to want to hang onto such an unprecedented talent, though this decision won’t provide any long-term clarity. The Angels are still 43-59 and destined to finish another season watching the postseason from home. That will leave 2023 as the club’s last chance to build a winning roster around Ohtani, unless they are able to work out an extension.
That latter course will surely be appealing to Angels’ fans but will come with complications for the front office. The latest reporting indicated that Ohtani and his camp were looking to surpass Max Scherzer’s record for annual average value of a contract, $43.3MM. That number would be added to a payroll that already includes Mike Trout getting over $37MM per year through 2028 while Anthony Rendon getting paid similarly through 2026. That could leave the Halos paying around $120MM per season to just three players. That wouldn’t leave a lot of wiggle room for a team that’s never run an Opening Day payroll above $190MM. If an extension can’t be worked out, then perhaps Ohtani’s name will show up in trade rumors in more serious fashion one year from now.