When reports emerged that Juan Soto could be traded by the Washington Nationals at this year’s trade deadline the story immediately took over the MLB. Now, one of the best players in the American League could be available in a trade, as Shohei Ohtani’s time as a Los Angeles Angel may be coming to an end.
There are not a lot of players available at this year’s trade deadline. Soto and Ohtani could change the competition for the playoffs if they are traded over the next few days.
Shohei Ohtani’s Potential Departure from Los Angeles
At the start of the season, it seemed like the Angels were on their way to the playoffs. The team was 24-13 on May 15 after a 4-1 win against the Oakland A’s.
However, since then the Angels’ season has fallen apart. Los Angeles enters the weekend 42-57, 22.5 games behind the Astros for first in the AL West. To make matters worse, Mike Trout is currently on the injured list with a back injury that could have long-term effects, and Anthony Rendon is out for the season with a wrist injury.
Ohtani, however, remains one of the best players in baseball. He already has 4.8 WAR so far this season. At the plate, Ohtani is batting .254/.349/.486, with 21 home runs and 16 doubles. On the mound, Ohtani has been even better. Across 99.1 innings Ohtani has a 2.81 ERA, 145 strikeouts, and a WHIP of 1.02.
It is hard to put a value on how incredible Ohtani’s performance has been over the last season and a half because there isn’t any comparison to what he has done in the recent history of the sport.
Quite simply, Ohtani is one of the best pitchers and one of the best hitters in the league, at the same time. However, the Angels may trade him because it is unclear whether or not the team can compete to make the playoffs next year.
Ohtani becomes a free agent after next season, and the Angels have reportedly started to consider trading him. For the last few seasons, the Angels have had both Trout and Ohtani, two of the Top Five players in the MLB, on the same team, but have not made the playoffs.
The Angels last made the postseason in 2014, when Trout was in his fourth season in the MLB and won his first MVP award. The team was swept by the Royals in the ALDS, and Trout only has 15 career postseason plate appearances.
Ohtani joined the Angels in 2018, and the closest the team has come to making the playoffs was in the covid-shortened 2020 season when they finished 3rd in the AL West, 10 games behind the Oakland A’s and three games behind in the Wild Card race.
Unless the Angels add depth to their lineup and strengthen their pitching staff in this year’s offseason, something they’ve tried to do for the last several years, they could miss the playoffs again next year even if Ohtani remains with the team. As a result, trading Ohtani at this year’s deadline, when he won’t become a free agent until after the 2023 season, may make sense.
The Impact Soto and Ohtani Trades Could Have On the Rest of the Season
It is hard to overstate the impact Soto or Ohtani could have on the playoff race if they are traded to a contender. Trading for Ohtani would add both a fantastic hitter and pitcher to a team, while Soto is one of the best hitters in the league.
Trading for Ohtani, despite the fact that he becomes a free agent in a year and a half, will almost certainly require most of the best prospects in a team’s minor league system. While Soto, with two and a half years remaining before free agency, could result in a team trading multiple young MLB players and prospects to the Nationals.
However, either trade would almost certainly be worth it. Adding a player of the caliber of Soto or Ohtani, both Top Five players in the MLB, would instantly make any team competing to make the playoffs a World Series contender. If either or both players are traded, they will dramatically change the outlook for the rest of the season for both the teams that trade for them and the other teams in their division and league.
Two of the biggest trades in recent memory could happen over the next few days, and nearly every team with a chance to make the playoffs will attempt to trade for Ohtani or Soto. The next few days could have a massive impact on not only the rest of this season, but the next several years in the MLB.
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