Speaking to a group of reporters yesterday, Los Angeles Angels general manager Perry Minasian very firmly stated that the Angels will not be trading two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani this offseason. With the news that Ohtani would begin the 2023 campaign with the Angels, you likely heard a collective groan from fanbases across the country, including Toronto Blue Jays fans.
It is no secret that Ohtani is one of the best players in all of baseball. He won the Rookie of the Year Award back in 2018 and won the AL MVP last season, edging out two Blue Jays in Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Marcus Semien. A two-time All-Star, Ohtani is up for the MVP award again this year but will be in tough competition against free-agent slugger Aaron Judge, who set a new AL record for single-season home runs with 62.
Since making the transition over to the MLB, Ohtani has amassed a career .267/.354/.532 slash line with 127 home runs, 342 RBI, and a .886 OPS through 566 games while working as the Angels’ designated hitter.
On the mound, the right-hander can touch the high 90s with his fastball and uses a sweeping slider at a 37.3% clip, which carries 13.7 inches of horizontal break. As a pitcher, Ohtani owns a 2.96 ERA through 349.2 innings and 63 starts, collecting 441 strikeouts to an 11.4 K/9 clip while also amassing a 3.04 FIP in the process.
Shohei Ohtani will not be traded this offseason per Angels GM
Back in early October, the Angels and Ohtani settled on a record-breaking $30 million contract for the 2023 season to avoid arbitration, as the lefty-batter is free agent eligible following next season. With his impending free agency and the Angels potentially on the market with owner Arte Moreno looking to sell the franchise, the Ohtani trade rumours have been at an all-time high since the regular season came to a close.
It’s not every day that a superstar of his calibre is close to free agency, and considering many teams across the league would be interested should the Angels look to move him, the price tag for any trade will be high.
For the Blue Jays, Ohtani checks quite a few boxes. He would bring the left-handed bat that the Jays are looking for to bring balance to a righty-dominant lineup while also adding an elite arm to the rotation, joining the likes of Alek Manoah, Kevin Gausman, and José Berríos. The move to bring him to the Jays would be risky, as he could leave via free agency within a year, but the hope would be extension talks would be part of the trade process or the Jays feel confident they could convince the star to stay in Toronto long term as they did with Berríos last winter.
Trade-wise, this one is a bit of a toss-up depending on who you ask.
Kaitlyn McGrath at The Athletic has C Gabriel Moreno, SP Ricky Tiedemann, SP/RP Hayden Juenger, INF Santiago Espinal, and OF Teoscar Hernández heading to Los Angeles.
Gregor Chisholm at the Toronto Star has C Moreno or Alejandro Kirk, SP/RP Yosver Zulueta, IF Addison Barger, and OF Dasan Brown as the trade package for Ohtani.
Here at Jays Journal, Evan Gignac predicted a trade involving SP Tiedemann, C Kirk, OF Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and 1B/OF Spencer Horwitz.
As you can see, the possibilities for an Ohtani trade package a really endless. That being said, given the Angels’ current stance on the superstars’ trade potential this offseason, the trade packages can change as the offseason wears on. The obvious fact is that the Angels front office could change their mind this winter and still trade the two-way player should the right deal come across but Angels fans might not welcome trading away arguably one of their best players.
Blue Jays fans will likely have to wait for a potential Shohei Ohtani trade
Given the franchise has struggled in recent years and now looks to be for sale, keeping Ohtani on the squad another season brings in revenue for the team (for obvious reasons). That being said, we saw the same scenario play out last year with the Nationals and GM Mike Rizzo, who said that he wouldn’t trade Juan Soto at the trade deadline only to do so roughly two months later.
The Angels front office might also be looking to extend Ohtani either this offseason or next, but that move in itself is risky given the current high-priced contracts they already possess and whether Ohtani wants to test the free agent market.
Lots can happen over the course of the offseason and it will be interesting to see if the Ohtani trade rumours gain any steam after the winter meetings later in December.
For now, at least, it appears that the Blue Jays and other teams across the league will have to wait until potentially the trade deadline next year for a shot at Shohei Ohtani.