The trade deadline is now just over a week away, and one question is on the minds of every contending team: Will the Los Angeles Angels really deal two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani? It seemed unfathomable just a month or so ago, and it’s still hard to see it happening as long as the team hangs on to even a sliver of hope in the AL playoff picture (this week’s sweep of the New York Yankees certainly helped on that front).
But with L.A. still three back in the loss column of the final Wild Card spot — and with a 13.2% chance to make the postseason, per Fangraphs — it’s not inconceivable that one bad week could have the team changing course. At the very least, they appear to be preparing for the possibility:
Sources: The Angels are not close to a decision on whether to trade Shohei Ohtani. They’re likely to wait until the final 24-48 hours before the Aug. 1 deadline. Teams continue to contact the Angels and express interest in Ohtani, because why wouldn’t they? @MLBNetwork @MLB— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 20, 2023
So we’ll prepare for it too. We’ve already ranked the most likely landing spots in the event that Ohtani gets dealt, and now we’re going to take a look at what the teams toward the top of that list would have to give up in order to land the presumptive AL MVP. Any Ohtani trade would inevitably be a delicate dance — as amazing as he is, he’s also headed for free agency this winter, which is sure to dampen his value at least a bit — but let’s see what we can come up with.
Next up: The Baltimore Orioles, who all-up, all-in might have the deepest pool of young talent to offer in an Ohtani trade of any organization in baseball. Of course, acquiring and developing that talent took a long time, and it would be a huge philosophical shift for GM Mike Elias to take a chunk out of it in a deal for a rental player. But the AL East-leading O’s look ready to compete for a championship right now, not years down the line, and Elias owes it to Adley Rutschman and Co. to take a big swing. What might a deal look like? Let’s break it down. (All prospect rankings courtesy of MLB Pipeline.)
Potential Shohei Ohtani trades: Baltimore Orioles
Orioles get: Shohei Ohtani
Angels get: OF Heston Kjerstad (No. 4 org prospect, No. 36 overall), INF Joey Ortiz (No. 5 org prospect, No. 62 overall), 2B/OF Connor Norby (No. 6 overall prospect, No. 65 overall), LHP DL Hall (No. 9 org prospect), OF Dylan Beavers (No. 10 overall prospect)
It says a lot about the O’s system right now that this deal leaves untouched their top three prospects — two of whom, Colton Cowser and Jordan Westburg, have already reached the Majors — as well as young studs Grayson Rodriguez, Gunnar Henderson and Adley Rutschman. That’s more than enough for Baltimore to build around in the near and long-term while offering the Angels plenty of talent in their own right. Kjerstad doesn’t have a path to playing time with Cowser, Cedric Mullins, Austin Hays and Anthony Santander around, but he’s raking at Triple-A right now, as have Ortiz and Norby. Hall was once a top-100 prospect and still has plenty of upside for an L.A. team desperate for young pitching.
Orioles get: Shohei Ohtani
Angels get: SS Jackson Holliday (No. 1 org prospect, No. 1 overall)
Put the pitchforks down, please. The fact that fans of both teams would probably be a little upset by this means that it’s close to the mark: Ohtani instantly makes the O’s the favorites to capture their first World Series title since 1983, while Holliday is the best building block L.A. could hope to acquire at the deadline — the top prospect in baseball who’s lit up every level of the Minors he’s encountered before even turning 20. There’s no way you’d get Baltimore to offer anything on top of Holliday — his inclusion in this deal would be hard enough on its own — but there’s an argument to be made that it’s worth it, especially when you consider the head start on selling Ohtani on staying in Baltimore long-term.