Angels sale could increase chances of Shohei Ohtani trade; these five teams are best positioned to land him – CBS Sports

Angels sale could increase chances of Shohei Ohtani trade;  these five teams are best positioned to land him - CBS Sports

The Los Angeles Angels announced Tuesday that owner Arte Moreno initiated a formal process to evaluate “strategic alternatives” involving the franchise, including a possible sale. Moreno, who has owned the Angels since purchasing the franchise from Disney in 2003 at the cost of $184 million, said the following as part of his statement:

“While this difficult decision was entirely our choice and deserved a lot of thoughtful consideration, my family and I have finally come to the conclusion that now is the time. Throughout this process, we will continue to manage the franchise in the best interest of our fans , employees, players and business partners.”

If Moreno’s process results in a sale, that development will have major ramifications across the league, in no small part because it could clear the way for a Shohei Ohtani trade. As CBS Sports reported last month, Rival front offices believe the biggest obstacle to an Ohtani trade would be getting Moreno to sign it; if he’s out of the picture, the likelihood of an offseason deal would increase.

It’s fair to wonder why an incoming owner would be okay with trading one of the best players in baseball, but the situation is comparable to what the Washington Nationals faced this past deadline with Juan Soto. Ohtani, 28, is one year away from free agency, at which point he is sure to demand a massive contract. The new owner will already have several large bonds on the books, including those given to Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon, and will likely have to commit financially to complete the purchase. As a result, they may shy away from another big contract — especially if they take a realistic view of where the Angels stand, competitively.

The last point is crucial because Ohtani — a two-way sensation and the reigning AL MVP — has a say in where he will play after next season. He has publicly stated that his top priority is winning games, making it possible — if not entirely likely — that the Angels are far down his list of preferred suitors.

Let’s say the next Angels owner accepts that reality, and that Ohtani is put on the block this offseason. Just which teams are best positioned to acquire him in a trade? Here are five that spring to mind, presented below in perceived order of likelihood.

The Dodgers have been enamored with Ohtani dating back to when they tried to sign him out of high school. He opted to play professionally in Japan instead, but it’s unlikely the Dodgers harbor any ill will about his decision. Top executive Andrew Friedman is no stranger to making successful trades, and his best in-show development apparatus has once again armed him with a merchandise chest of top youngsters to offer to the Angels. The Dodgers were able to hang some combination of catcher Diego Cartaya; right-handers Bobby Miller, Ryan Pepiot, and Gavin Stone; and infielders Miguel Vargas and Michael Busch. The one potential snag in a Dodgers pursuit is if the Angels opt against moving Ohtani to their biggest geographic rival.

The Mets have a lot of things working in their favor. Owner Steven Cohen has proven time and time again that he is willing to spend big on top talent; general manager Billy Eppler is the same executive who signed Ohtani in the first place; and the Mets have several famous young people who could float the way of the angels. That group includes rookie third baseman Brett Baty and catcher Francisco Álvarez, who is one of the best prospects in the game. The Mets could even include one of their first-round picks from this past summer, whether it’s catcher Kevin Parada or shortstop Jett Williams. Unlike the Juan Soto talks, there is no unconventional quirk to prevent.

Speaking of those Soto talks, it only makes sense to include one of the other finalists. The Cardinals still have two of the top prospects in the minors, in third baseman/outfielder Jordan Walker and shortstop Masyn Winn, and they have a host of youngsters who could serve as secondary pieces, including pitchers Cooper Hjerpe, Gordon Graceffo, Matthew Liberatore. , and Tink Hence. The Cardinals have shown a willingness to pony up in the past, and if Ohtani is serious about prioritizing winning above all else, he could do worse than settling in St. Louis. Louis for the long haul.

The Yankees are hard to read in these situations. They would make sense as a landing move for Ohtani (then again, so would most teams), but the question is, are they willing to part with the prospects it would take to get a deal done? Although the Yankees thinned out their farm system depth by trading for Frankie Montas (and others) at the deadline, they were able to retain shortstop prospects Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza. Outfielder Jasson Dominguez remains in the system as well, and rumors had New York to be able to send him out in the right business. Another factor worth considering is how Aaron Judge’s talks could affect the Yankees’ long-term financial plans, and their willingness to hand out another massive deal next winter.

There are several other teams that could appear in Ohtani-related rumors this winter. We’ll finish our rundown of the market with a wildcard team: the Rangers. If owner Ray Davis and general manager Chris Young want to put the Jon Daniels era behind them, they could make another splash by adding Ohtani. The Rangers certainly have the prospect resources to make a deal, as they have several big-name youngsters in their farm system, such as third baseman Josh Jung; right-handers Jack Leiter, Owen White, Kumar Rocker, and Brock Porter; and outfielder Evan Carter. It is possible that the Rangers being in the same division would lower their chances of completing a trade; it is also possible that Young wants to build from within, and that Davis would prefer not to hand out another big contract, having received mixed results from Corey Seager and Marcus Semien. However, if the Rangers are serious about making the proverbial leap, then Ohtani should be one of their top targets this winter.

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