Brainstorming 9 potential Deadline deals for Ohtani

July 21st, 2023

Will the Angels trade Shohei Ohtani? That’s the big question around baseball ahead of the Aug. 1 Trade Deadline.

It’s hard to see that happening as long as the club remains in the American League playoff race, which it did with this week’s sweep of the Yankees. The Angels entered their Thursday off-day 4 1/2 games out of an AL Wild Card spot and with a 14.5% chance to make the playoffs, per FanGraphs.

But if that dynamic changes over the next 12 days, the trade talk surrounding the two-way superstar and AL Most Valuable Player frontrunner will only intensify. To prepare for a potential Ohtani deal, we first asked executive reporter Mark Feinsand to identify the likeliest Ohtani destinations. We then asked the writers covering those teams to make an educated guess as to what a return package might look like.

The key thing to remember is that as amazing as Ohtani is, he is also headed for free agency this offseason, meaning that as a rental player he likely would not command a haul quite the size that Juan Soto did a year ago when he was still under team control for two-plus seasons.

With that in mind, which of these packages would look the best for the Angels? Read on and decide for yourself.


Rays get: Shohei Ohtani

Angels Get: 3B Curtis Mead (Rays No. 3 prospect, No. 32 overall), 1B Kyle Manzardo (Rays No. 4 prospect, No. 38 overall), INF/OF Vidal Bruján, LHP Mason Montgomery (Rays No. 5 prospect), RHP Cole Wilcox (Rays No. 8 prospect)

One reason the Rays have been so successful over the last 16 years -- only the Dodgers, Yankees and Cardinals have more regular-season wins since 2008 -- is how carefully they balance the present and future, with a steady stream of young, controllable players coming through the system and contributing. So it’s highly unlikely the Rays would win any sort of bidding war, and a trade of this magnitude for a rental player would be unprecedented for Tampa Bay.

Know what else is unprecedented, though? Pretty much everything Ohtani does. With one move, the Rays could add the proven starter they need and an elite hitter to anchor their recently scuffling lineup in the highly competitive American League East. They have shown a willingness to strike when a division title is at play, and that’s the case after their incredible start to the season. They dealt Joe Ryan to the Twins for two months of Nelson Cruz two years ago, for instance, and made a legitimate run at Freddie Freeman before he signed with the Dodgers.

The smaller-market club would have no shot at extending Ohtani, of course. A move like this would be all about committing to this roster in pursuit of the franchise’s first World Series championship. President of baseball operations Erik Neander recently said on MLB Network Radio that they’ll have “the full support from ownership” to explore major moves “if we think it makes sense from a baseball perspective.”

The cost would be uncomfortably high, possibly even more significant than the hypothetical proposal above. But it does make sense for a generational talent who could make them the World Series favorites. – Adam Berry


Orioles get: Shohei Ohtani

Angels get: INF Joey Ortiz (Orioles No. 5 prospect, No. 62 overall), INF/OF Connor Norby (Orioles No. 6 prospect, No. 65 overall), LHP DL Hall (Orioles No. 9 prospect), OF Dylan Beavers (Orioles No. 10 prospect), OF Kyle Stowers.

First, a disclaimer: It would be a huge philosophical shift for the Orioles to deal from their deep farm system -- which took a long time to build under general manager Mike Elias, who was hired in November 2018 -- to acquire a rental player with an expiring contract. They likely wouldn’t want to part with a lot of homegrown talent to bring in a player for only two or three months, even one who is as much of a game-changer as Ohtani.

But let’s say there somehow is a scenario in which Baltimore decides to go all in to try to win a World Series championship this year (which is much less of a pipe dream than it would have seemed to be in February or March). Who would the club be most likely to part with?

The Orioles’ top four prospects -- Jackson Holliday, Colton Cowser, Jordan Westburg and Heston Kjerstad -- may be off the table, with Holliday (the No. 1 overall prospect in baseball) being the most untouchable. But perhaps the Halos would be enticed by a package featuring two Top 100 prospects (Ortiz and Norby), a former Top 100 guy (Hall) and an outfielder who was selected in Competitive Balance Round A of the 2022 MLB Draft (Beavers). – Jake Rill


Yankees get: Shohei Ohtani

Angels get: OF Jasson Dominguez (Yankees No. 1 prospect, No. 41 overall), INF Oswald Peraza, RHP Clarke Schmidt, SS Trey Sweeney (Yankees No. 5 prospect)

When Ohtani turned down the Yankees in the 2017-18 offseason, they pivoted to acquire reigning National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins. Many within the Yankees' world have not stopped dreaming about what might have been -- but has the rest of the 2023 squad shown enough “championship caliber” performance to convince Brian Cashman to push his best chips in to grab Ohtani as a rental?

The X-factor would be if Ohtani's stance of preferring not to play on the East Coast (a reason he wasn't a Yankee in the first place) has shifted, and they believe a trade would help their chances of inking a new contract.

It was only a few weeks ago, after all, when managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said that a Yankees lineup needs to have stars. There’s none brighter than Ohtani, who’d immediately turn every home game into an event. They’ve also just received a significant windfall (reportedly at least $20 million per season) for licensing a uniform sleeve patch, funds which could offset an Ohtani extension. – Bryan Hoch


Red Sox get: Shohei Ohtani

Angels get: SS Marcelo Mayer (Red Sox No. 1 prospect, No. 3 overall)

Since hiring chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, the Red Sox have put an emphasis on improving their farm system. They now have five prospects on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 list, including Mayer, Ceddanne Rafaela (No. 81), Nick Yorke (No. 84), Miguel Bleis (No. 85) and Roman Anthony (No. 97).

If Boston wants to hold the line on Mayer, it’ll have to dip deeply into that newly improved system, something the Red Sox are likely to be unwilling to do for only a few months of Ohtani. The alternative, however, might be even harder to swallow -- giving up high performers at the MLB level.

Right-hander Brayan Bello has emerged as the certified ace of an injury-ridden rotation. Down Chris Sale, Tanner Houck and Corey Kluber, the rotation has relied on Bello, who fans have rallied behind as the first homegrown pitcher they’ve had to be excited about in some time.

Outfielder Jarren Duran has had a massive turnaround from a rough start to his Major League tenure, becoming one of Boston’s best hitters and most reliable defenders in the outfield.

So, would Boston instead throw out an aggressive one-for-one deal for Ohtani? If they dangled Mayer, would that be enough to entice the Angels? It might be their best option to avoid raiding the Major League team or crushing their farm system. – Molly Burkhardt


Mariners get: Shohei Ohtani, INF Brandon Drury, cash considerations

Angels get: RHP Logan Gilbert, C Harry Ford (Mariners No. 1 prospect, No. 25 overall), INF Cole Young (Mariners No. 2 prospect, No. 56 overall) RHP Emerson Hancock (Mariners No. 4 prospect), INF Michael Arroyo (Mariners No. 9 prospect)

Even beyond the challenges of trading within the division, let’s preface this by acknowledging that Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto used to work for Angels owner Arte Moreno as the GM in Los Angeles, and his abrupt resignation in 2015 still lingers in this AL West rivalry. Since Dipoto took over in Seattle shortly after, these teams have never made a trade. So, even if they were to put their pasts aside, there’s no way Seattle pulls this off without paying a premium.

That’s why Dipoto will ask for Drury to fill in at second base, a position where Seattle has received the third-lowest production in MLB since trading Robinson Canó after 2018. Additionally, the payroll-conscious Mariners -- who intend to pursue Ohtani in free agency -- will ask that the Angels offset their prospect-laden package by paying a large portion of what’s remaining on his $30 million salary. And all of a sudden, a middling Mariners lineup has two huge upgrades.

But the return would be massive. The Angels will ask for their top prospect regardless, and Ford plays a premium position and has the makings to be a star. They’ll also want starting pitching because, frankly, they’ve not been able to develop it, and they’ll want both an MLB-ready arm -- Gilbert probably makes more sense than Bryce Miller or Bryan Woo because he’s closer to free agency -- and one on the doorstep, such as Hancock, the No. 6 overall pick in 2020. Young was just promoted to High-A Everett, but sources have suggested that he could be in the Majors as soon as 2024. Arroyo is further away but has shown elite bat-to-ball skills.

Given the relationship between these teams, how they philosophically operate, that Dipoto almost never does rentals, and that Moreno might have apprehension over the optics of dealing a star, this particular transaction seems unlikely. But the point of hypotheticals during Deadline season is the fun. – Daniel Kramer


Rangers get: Shohei Ohtani

Angels get: INF/OF Ezequiel Duran, RHP Owen White (Rangers No. 2 prospect, No. 44 overall), INF Luisangel Acuña (Rangers No. 3 prospect, No. 45 overall), RHP Jack Leiter (Rangers No. 5 prospect, No. 89 overall), INF Justin Foscue (Rangers No. 7 prospect), OF Dustin Harris (Rangers No. 8 prospect)

Ohtani wouldn’t solve the Rangers’ lack of bullpen depth, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t at the very least consider bringing in the best player in the world as a way to increase their odds of winning the World Series this year.

The Rangers are going to try their hardest to hold onto top prospect Evan Carter, and they might be able to, considering Ohtani is a rental. But this would still be a massive return -- and maybe too much from the Rangers' side -- for the two-way superstar. Instead of Carter, the package includes three Top 100 prospects in White, Acuña and Leiter, and an MLB starter in Ezequiel Duran. Throw in former first-rounder Justin Foscue, who is hitting .275 with an .891 OPS with Triple-A Round Rock, and a corner outfielder in Harris, and that’s a lot of return for Ohtani.

Duran -- once part of the Joey Gallo trade with the Yankees -- has developed into a versatile player with the ability to play pretty much any infield or outfield position and can easily slot in at designated hitter for the Angels. White is an MLB-ready pitcher who made his debut earlier this season, and both Foscue and Harris are close to ready but blocked at relevant positions in Arlington.

If we’ve learned anything over these last two offseasons, it’s that the Rangers are willing to spend money to improve the club. We’ll find out at the Deadline how that mindset applies to prospect capital. – Kennedi Landry


Dodgers get: Shohei Ohtani

Angels get: RHP Bobby Miller, C Diego Cartaya (Dodgers No. 1 prospect, No. 19 overall), INF Michael Busch (Dodgers No. 2 prospect, No. 34 overall), RHP Nick Nastrini (Dodgers No. 9 prospect), RHP Kyle Hurt (Dodgers No. 27 prospect) and C Thayron Liranzo

A few disclaimers before we get into this. The chances of the Dodgers making this type of trade with the Angels are slim to basically none. If the Angels do indeed make Shohei Ohtani available, the Dodgers will certainly call but don’t expect that to happen. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk a little about this package.

Is it an overpay? You can definitely argue that. But it’s Shohei Ohtani, and the Angels would be fielding a bunch of offers, which naturally raises the price. Miller would give the Angels an immediate starter in the rotation and Busch would be an everyday player in the lineup. Cartaya, Nastrini, Hurt and Liranzo, a fast-rising catching prospect, would allow the Angels to start building their Minor League system.

It can’t be overstated enough that it’s very unlikely this happens over the next two weeks, but it’s fun to have these discussions. – Juan Toribio


Giants get: Shohei Ohtani

Angels get: SS Marco Luciano (Giants No. 2 prospect, No. 15 overall), LHP Carson Whisenhunt (Giants No. 4 prospect, No. 93 overall), OF Heliot Ramos (Giants No. 18 prospect), C Joey Bart, DH Joc Pederson

After the Giants missed out on Aaron Judge and Carlos Correa this past offseason, the general consensus was that they had a solid roster at their disposal, but they needed a superstar. With San Francisco in possession of the top National League Wild Card spot and 1 1/2 games out of first place in the NL West entering play on Wednesday, that largely remains true.

Who better than Ohtani to provide that superstar factor?

The Giants have been buyers at the Trade Deadline once during Farhan Zaidi's tenure as president of baseball operations -- in 2021 -- and they made a splash by acquiring Kris Bryant from the Cubs that year. That signals that the team isn't opposed to dealing for a rental, but Ohtani's price figures to be in another stratosphere.

This package might not be enough to convince the Angels to part ways with their two-way superstar, but it's certainly a start. Ramos hasn't been able to carve out his place in the Giants' crowded outfield mix, while Luciano is close to Major League ready after his recent promotion to Triple-A Sacramento. Whisenhunt has risen quickly through the Giants' system since being selected in the second round of the 2022 Draft.

It's hard to imagine San Francisco giving up three of its Top 30 prospects -- and a handful of proven contributors at the big league level -- for two months of Ohtani. But any team that acquires Ohtani at the Deadline may also get a head start on locking him in on a long-term contract in the offseason, so it's possible that no price is too high when it comes to that kind of generational talent. – Sonja Chen


Padres get: Shohei Ohtani

Angels get: SS Jackson Merrill (Padres No. 1 prospect, No. 9 overall), RHP Dylan Lesko (Padres No. 3 prospect, No. 64 overall), Adam Mazur (Padres No. 6 prospect), RHP Alek Jacob (Padres No. 26 prospect), LHP Ryan Weathers

If the Padres are going to make a major impact at the Deadline -- like they did a season ago -- it’s far likelier that they would do so as sellers. Were they to commit in that direction, they’d have Blake Snell, Josh Hader and Seth Lugo to offer.

But, for argument’s sake, let’s say the Padres reel off 11 of 12. Let’s say they find themselves playing like the contenders they believe they are. Let’s say a few other contenders lose ground in late July, and suddenly the Padres are back in the Wild Card race. This is a team known for making a Deadline splash, isn’t it?

And, no, the farm isn’t as deep as it once was. The Padres would have to seriously weigh the cost of further depleting that group (though catcher Ethan Salas, the top-rated international prospect in the latest class, appears to be untouchable). It might not be a tenable strategy to trade for Ohtani when they could merely pursue him in free agency. Even if it were, this package might not be enough to pry him away from the Angels. Still, if we’ve learned one lesson about the Padres it’s this one: Never rule them out for a big name. – AJ Cassavell