Should the Angels deal Shohei Ohtani at the MLB trade deadline? Experts weigh in

·4 min read
Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani during an at bat in the fourth inning.
Angels star Shohei Ohtani has one more year left on his contract after this season. Will the Angels try to re-sign him or are they leaning more toward eventually trading him? (Julio Cortez / Associated Press)

The Angels have not performed to expectations in the three years they’ve had Shohei Ohtani, Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon all under contract. Since May 25, the team has the worst record in baseball at 11-31. Entering Monday, the Angels were seven games back in the American League wild-card race and 19 games out of first place in the AL West.

It is fair to ask whether the Angels would entertain the possibility of trading Ohtani — the reigning AL most valuable player who is in the midst of another MVP-caliber season — before Major League Baseball's Aug. 2 trade deadline.

The Angels would not comment on any specific players, but others in the industry shared their thoughts on the two-way star's future.

“I think you have to [consider taking calls on Ohtani],” said Billy Blitzer, a former longtime scout for the Chicago Cubs who pointed to the Angels' losing records despite having Trout and Ohtani. Blitzer said the value of potential offers would impact the decision whether to try to keep Ohtani.

“If I'm them, I got to get a phone call from another team that I've scouted inside and out and I know that team about as well as I'm gonna know a team that I don't work for,” one former National League general manager said. “And they got to make an offer to me on Ohtani that I cannot hang the phone up. You're gonna have to give me $2 for $1.”

Another former MLB executive — who previously worked with Angels GM Perry Minasian when the two were with the Toronto Blue Jays — explained that because Ohtani is so unique, his true trade value is unknown.

“Perry has one of the greatest players in the game,” said Dan Evans, a former Dodgers GM who now works as the chief operating officer for the Field of Dreams site in Dyersville, Iowa. “At the trade deadline or in any trade situation, it's almost like obtaining two players.

“We've never seen anything like that at the trade deadline or on the market at any time in the modern era. So there is nowhere to point to in terms of past precedent. In terms of value, nobody really knows.”

Shohei Ohtani wears a cowboy hat in the dugout while celebrating a solo home run during a loss to the Baltimore Orioles.
Shohei Ohtani wears a cowboy hat in the dugout while celebrating a solo home run during a loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Friday. (Julio Cortez / Associated Press)

On the other hand, any team looking to add someone like Ohtani to help bolster its trip to the postseason would also need some reassurances, one former scout said.

“If I'm the team acquiring him, if I'm giving away top prospects or players off my major league club, it would have to be a sign-and-trade deal,” Blitzer said. “I want to make sure that he's going to be part of my future. He's going to be the cornerstone on my team.”

Take the Atlanta Braves' midseason deal for Mark Teixeira from the Texas Rangers in 2007 as an example of why a team would want to make sure a midsummer trade acquisition would be around longer than half a season.

Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani walks to the dugout after striking out against the Baltimore Orioles.
Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani walks to the dugout after striking out against the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday. (Julio Cortez / Associated Press)

Teixeira was sent to the Braves in exchange for a group of players that included shortstop Elvis Andrus, closer Neftali Feliz and starting pitcher Matt Harrison. Teixeira spent 54 games in 2007 and 103 games in 2008 with the Braves before getting sent to the Angels as a rental player — the Angels shipped first baseman Casey Kotchman and pitching prospect Stephen Marek in the deal.

Trading Ohtani could help the Angels rebuild for the future, but moving him before he hits free agency would be an organization decision, not just Minasian’s call. It is highly unlikely team owner Arte Moreno would approve a trade involving Ohtani even if Minasian recommended it.

We will soon find out whether the Angels plan to be buyers or sellers this year.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.