Deadline pricing for stars in their final season haven’t been fantastic lately, according to one source.
The most intriguing ongoing subject with less than two weeks until Major League Baseball’s trade deadline is whether or not the Los Angeles Angels will deal versatile player Shohei Ohtani. The Angels may have to accept reality despite how difficult it would be to move Ohtani, the finest player in the game. They have little chance of making the playoffs and even less chance of persuading Ohtani to stay until this winter, when his deadline for free agency is rapidly approaching.
The Angels will engage in a bizarre exercise if they genuinely consider trade offers for Ohtani in the coming days. Never before has a team gone into the crazy month of July with a guy they can confidently view as the top pitcher and bat available. The idea itself is challenging to comprehend and contextualise. Just that raises the question: How much might the Angels receive in exchange if they decide to make a deal?
We at CBS Sports asked a range of business executives for their best assumptions on what, in general, an Ohtani deal might entail in an effort to find an answer to that issue. Please be aware that these people serve in a variety of capacities for different teams, from analysts to scouts to above. In order to avoid any suspicions of meddling, they were each given anonymity.
What the industry says
Given the unusual circumstances surrounding Ohtani’s skill and the impending payout, it was to be expected that the responses we got varied quite a little. We’ve chosen to provide three reference points in order to streamline this essay: the extremes and the idealised middle ground.
We’re going to start with what one source called “an insane ask.” That would require the Angels obtaining four or five young players, at least one of whom would be a top-25 prospect, along with a few other high-grade young players and one or two big-leaguers. In essence, a deal that is quite similar to the one the San Diego Padres offered the Washington Nationals for Juan Soto last season.
Another source offered what we eventually came to refer to as the Goldilocks solution: not too mild or too harsh, but just right. It reads like a diluted version of the above, which is appropriate.
In this case, the Angels would be content with a combination of two or three promising young players, whether they were top prospects, big-league prospects before arbitration, or both. You can blame teams for how they have valued rental players over the past several deadlines if that seems a touch too light to be the “medium” choice for a player of Ohtani’s calibre.
The source noted that recent deadline prices for star players in their final season haven’t been outstanding. “Team control’s second year is huge,”
Using the previous example, Soto was sent from the Nationals to the Padres with two and a half seasons of team control left.
Finally, there was the source who went against the grain and claimed that trading Ohtani would be logistically difficult.
They remarked, “He might be too good to trade.” “I want to know what it will take to extend him and that his management are open to that talk if I’m giving up that sort of talent haul. Those conditions won’t likely be satisfied in a midsummer transaction, in my opinion.
You have to admit that each argument has some merit, regardless of which model you believe best describes how Ohtani’s half-season — and the exclusive negotiating rights that go along with it — should be valued in trade negotiations.
What history says
Once more, if you’re searching for a precise, one-to-one comparison to an Ohtani deal, you’re out of luck. However, we believe that recent deadlines have offered some indications of what the Angels would hope to receive in exchange, and they make reference to two of the models put up by our insiders.
This article has made several references to the Soto trade, so we might as well elaborate on it now. Recall that the Nationals sent out rental slugger Josh Bell and Soto for more than two seasons; in exchange, they received lefty MacKenzie Gore, righty Jarlin Susana, shortstop CJ Abrams, outfielders James Wood and Robert Hassell, and veteran first baseman Luke Voit.
The transaction has been a mixed bag nearly a year later. Soto is still a very productive component of the Padres lineup, while Wood has developed into one of the finest prospects in the game and Gore and Abrams have shown enough in the major leagues to make predictions about their development into good or better players. On the down side, Voit is gone, Susana struggled in A-ball (albeit understandable given that he is a youngster, and Hassell’s status has plummeted).
The Soto bargain is comparable to the radical suggestion made above, once more. We offer yet another agreement involving the Nationals as a concrete illustration of the “Goldilocks” template in real life.
Recall how they traded right-hander Max Scherzer and shortstop Trea Turner to the Los Angeles Dodgers back in 2021? They received right-hander Josiah Grey, outfielder Donovan Casey, catcher Keibert Ruiz, and right-hander Gerardo Carrillo in exchange. Maybe stretching it, but by dealing Turner and Scherzer for half of a season and a half, they basically dealt a top pitcher and hitter, or what a team would acquire by signing Ohtani alone.
After finishing their respective contracts with the Dodgers two years ago, both Scherzer and Turner are now with other organisations. Ruiz and Grey were two young, talented players who appeared to have average or better potential. Ruiz has already signed a long-term agreement with the Nationals, and Grey recently made the All-Star Game despite average component statistics. (Casey, an outfielder who is overage, and Carrillo, a reliever who is undersized, have yet to make an impression on the big-league side. It seems unclear that either will significantly alter the trade’s calculus.)
If the Angels could acquire their own pair of Grey and Ruiz, would they sell Ohtani? Or would anything other than the Soto bundle leave them unmoved? We’ll discover it in due time.