Juan Soto may not be the only MLB superstar available at the trade deadline for a steep price.
The Los Angeles Angels have begun listening to trade offers for reigning AL MVP Shohei Ohtani, according to the New York Post's Jon Heyman. A trade for the two-way phenom is reportedly very unlikely, but the Angels are now listening for offers on everyone not named Mike Trout after going 42-56.
Executives didn't sound enthusiastic about their chances to land Ohtani. From the Post:
Two executives calling about Ohtani expressed doubt that the Angels would pull the trigger on such a megadeal based on the history of the team and the owner.
Two executives with interest rated it this way: “Very slim” and “almost zero.”
A third said: “They want something like your top four prospects.”
A team's top four prospects is steep, and you would assume that condition is restricted to teams whose top four prospects are in or near lists of the top 100 overall prospects. The Nationals are asking for something similar for Soto: four or five "youngsters," which basically means prospects or big-leaguers with several years of team control left.
Ohtani addressed the report after Thursday night's game against the Texas Rangers, and he didn't exactly deny it. He expressed love and gratitude to the Angels, but declined to provide any statement affirming his interest in staying in Anaheim long-term.
From The Athletic's Sam Blum:
"Regardless of where I'm playing, I want to give it my all, try to win the ball game that's right in front of me. I'm with the Angels right now. And I'm very thankful for what they've done. I really love the team. I love my teammates. Right now I'm an Angel, and that's all I can really focus on at this point."
An Ohtani trade would send shockwaves around baseball. No player in MLB is more valuable than Ohtani when he's healthy and performing as a hitter and pitcher; it basically isn't possible. Add that to any contender and you have a blockbuster.
The 28-year-old Ohtani has only one year of team control remaining after this season before hitting what should be an extraordinarily lucrative free agency. He has made clear that playing for a winning team will be his priority, and it's hard to imagine the Angels can make the best case there; their inability to win with Ohtani and Trout has become a meme.
If the Angels aren't winning this season and don't believe they can next season, an Ohtani trade might be the best way to get value out of their Japanese superstar. And that might be the most pathetic part in all this.