I recently discussed the Los Angeles Angels’ ability to extend Shohei Ohtani here, and it looks bleak for them. It is hard to tell the direction of the Angels as new ownership becomes likely, but the fact remains it is very likely they will have to trade Ohtani at some point. Whether it is in the offseason, or the midseason of 2023 remains unknown.
When Ohtani was selecting his first team in the MLB, it became apparent that he valued a team on the West Coast, due to its proximity to Japan. Per Jon Morosi, it also appeared he did not want to play on a team who had a past Japanese superstar. I would imagine those concerns have vanished, as he certainly has outshined anyone who came from Japan to MLB already.
I would imagine the trade partner for Ohtani would have to have the following four things:
1. Young MLB-ready talent: The Angels do not desire a full-scale rebuild.
2. Payroll flexibility: The team who trades for Ohtani will almost certainly want to extend him.
3. A desirable destination for Ohtani.
4. A contender: Ohtani mentioned struggling to stay motivated in another losing season and certainly wants to play for a contender after four wasted years with the Angels.
The Mariners are a glaring team that fits that mold, but there is absolutely no chance the Angels trade him to a division rival. Many have mentioned the Yankees in the past, as they do with every player, but I think the eventual Aaron Judge extension will take them out of the running. Not to mention, I don’t think the Yankees are a good fit anyway for assorted reasons. The Padres were my favorite to land Ohtani before the trade deadline, but the Soto deal almost assuredly puts them out of the running due to the payroll and farm system impact.