Fun fact: the scenario in Trading Places involving getting advance warning on crop reports and then trading off that information was not made illegal until 2010. Trading Places came out the year that I was born, almost forty years ago.
Back in the quasi-before times of a world where Juan Soto (might be or) is traded, word leaked that the Angels were not going to be trading their 2-way superstar and generational talent, Shohei Ohtani. Personally, I rolled my eyes at this statement because the Angels are going nowhere fast and have been actively wasting the careers of two generational talents for several years now. Their last playoff appearance was a quick exit in 2014. This decision was going to provide some fodder for a future Money(ball) essay.
However, a couple of nights ago, word leaked that the Anaheim Angels were now finally listening to various teams’ offers regarding Ohtani. I was skeptical that anything would result, to say the least.
Because of this gig, I now use Twitter. While bantering with David Young and the internet at large, I had the following remark:
Spoiler alert for an upcoming essay, but they are a bunch of clown masquerading as a baseball organization. If they were truly serious about moving Ohtani, they’d have started this discussion around the time the Soto stuff started. 1/— Michael Elizondo (@elidelajandro) July 29, 2022
I also expressed doubt that the Angels would accept anything less than full value on less than a week’s notice from a league that has been undergoing Sotomania to the point where the backlash has fully occurred, based on the few articles I had seen that the Dodgers should not trade for Soto.
As discussed last time, I have had way too much fun playing with Baseball Trade Values and coming up with potential trades. Would the trades I come up with be feasible? I suppose per the software, but these decisions are made by people so there's always an intangible element to worry about.
Thankfully, the folks that run BVT are good sports about what I have had to say about them, and they appreciated the previous article, which is always nice. Also, they clarified a point I made about the software as to Cartaya, so that was fun, too.
Fun article! To clarify on Cartaya: the model isn't coded with any subjective rules as to which specific players would be required in any deal. But it is coded to require a 'headliner' worth a specific percent of the other side's value, to avoid proposals like six $3.0M prospects— Baseball Trade Values (@BaseballValues) July 29, 2022
With all that out of the way, with the looming 2022 Trade Deadline upon us, let us quickly bring up some trade scenarios that would theoretically work for the Dodgers to obtain Ohtani (sans one giant asterisk that will be discussed below).
Some proposed trades from the Dodgers for Shohei Ohtani, using Baseball Trade Values
Okay, let us get the obvious trade out of the way first, which assumes that Diego Cartaya was not traded for Juan Soto (and Patrick Corbin).
I suppose if I knew I could get Ohtani to sign with the Dodgers long-term, that fact would dramatically lessen the sting of this deal. Also, Ohtani would need to continue surpassing his own legend to make this trade palatable. Still, though, there are probably ways to lessen the sting of any Ohtani deal.
Admittedly, when playing around with BTV, I had no idea who Rasiel Iglesias was. I only discovered that the software is quite down on Mr. Iglesias. Iglesias is a converted starter who is now a full-time reliever and actually finished 11th for the AL Cy Young in 2021. In 2022, he is 2-6 (which is not great) with a 4.24 ERA in 37 games this year. Iglesias has a four-year contract (which seems odd) worth $10 million this year and $16 million/year through 2025 (!!!). I understand the software's reasoning now.
So let us turn this terrible contract (and that frown) upside down. In my discussion with David Young on Twitter, my back-of-the-envelope thinking led to the following idea:
Why include Luis Rengifo? As you may (or may not) recall, Rengifo was supposed to be traded for Ross Stripling and Joc Pederson during the Mookie trade but Arte Moreno vetoed the deal. Rengifo also was the person who broke up the Kershaw perfecto bid back in Anaheim prior to the All-Star break.
When possible, I embrace the memes.
Now, you are probably wondering the obvious question: could the Dodgers theoretically trade for both Soto and Ohtani? Per the software, yes, the Dodgers could do those moves, but it would likely drain the system considerably.
What will it cost?
We covered a possible trade for Soto last time, in a move that dealt Jacob Amaya, Phil Bickford, Diego Cartaya, Ryan Peipot, Jose Ramos, and Gavin Stone. Assuming that Amaya, Bickford, Cartaya, Peipot, Ramos, and Stone are off the board, here is the list of who would be required from the Dodgers to finish this deal for Ohtani off - in theory.
Technically, Gavin Lux, Dustin May, and James Outman are left, as well as some other prospects that do not jump immediately to mind. To be fair, the bulk of this essay was generated before James Outman's big day.
But in this hypothetical universe, the Dodgers would have Ohtani and Soto and a dramatically different bullpen and bench. And they would have all the pressure in the world to win the World Series for this year and beyond for at least the next three. Good luck.
Is it a certainty that the Dodgers would even offer this deal to Anaheim? No.
Is it a certainty that the Angels would accept this deal? No. In fact, I can say that they would outright refuse to see their two-way superstar head up to the freeway to Los Angeles from Anaheim.
Why am I skeptical? Two words: Arte Moreno.
The failings of Arte Moreno as an owner are legion and far exceed the scope of this fun little exercise. Considering Moreno's hapless crusade to rebrand the Anaheim Angels to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, I cannot envision a universe that would allow him to trade Ohtani for any package even if it was an overpay. If not for his own personal pride, then Moreno would likely overrule (and possibly fire) his current General Manager if he agreed to a deal because of the (likely) fan revolt such a move would spark. Moreso, if Ohtani is to head up the freeway and play for a team that would actually win. An informal, totally not-scientific poll of the two resident Angel fans I know blanched in disgust when I proffered this idea. "Anywhere but the Dodgers" was the general consensus.
Moreover, it looks like the Angels trading Ohtani will likely remain an academic exercise (shocker) per Jon Heyman in an article published in the New York Post on Monday.
Breaking: Angels have decided to keep Shohei Ohtani. Yankees among teams to make an offer, but Ohtani will stay https://t.co/tMhKmNyeYp— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) August 1, 2022
Per Heyman, shocker, Arte Moreno refused to sign off on a deal as the Yankees, White Sox and Padres were among the teams that made “serious offers” for Ohtani. Heyman wrote that Angels owner Arte Moreno was unwilling to let Ohtani leave, due in large part to fellow stars Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon being out with injuries. Ohtani is still on track to become a free agent after the 2023 season.
One last thing to keep in mind re: the Anaheim Angels, which will we come back to (in a later essay) if they were truly serious about wanting to contend, they would have either committed to building an entire team around Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani or they would pull a Boston (ala trading Mookie Betts) and get what they could get in order to jumpstart a rebuild. This middle way of doing neither is simply wasting both Trout and Ohtani's primes, which should absolutely infuriate you and enrage you if you are a fan of baseball.
Agree? Disagree? Have ideas of your own? Then share them in the comments! As I said last time, no one is technically wrong about a potential trade until proven otherwise...but this exercise was fun. Later this week from me, a field report about my recent adventures in Denver. Until then, let us standby and see what the Dodgers actually did during the Trade Deadline.