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Shohei Ohtani continues to amaze on the mound and at the plate.
In fact, his 2023 season may be his most impressive yet, especially as a hitter.
As of Friday afternoon, Ohtani had 22 home runs to go along with a .302/.382/.620 line. That equates to a 169 wRC+, meaning he’s been nearly 70% better than a league average hitter.
Of course, he also contributes on the mound as well, with a 3.29 ERA and 11.59 K’s/9.
His otherworldly talent and personality make him one of baseball’s most marketable stars.
And importantly, he’s also headed for free agency after this season.
That makes Ohtani, in theory, the most valuable mid season trade target this year. And perhaps in the history of the MLB trade deadline.
If he’s actually on the market, that is.
Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno recently addressed speculation about his team’s position on the game’s best player.
And he doesn’t seem that interested in doing so.
Moreno spoke to the New York Post and seemed dismissive of the idea.
“I just don’t know how you replace a guy like that,” Moreno said. “We want to win, and it’s nice to have him in the lineup. For me, it’s about the fans.”
Shohei Ohtani Staying Put A Sizable Risk For The Angels
The Angels, for once, are actually in relative contention this season.
At 39-32, they’re just one game out of a wild card spot, thanks in no small part to Ohtani’s contributions.
While the Rangers and Astros will be tough to beat out for the AL West, it’s hard to imagine a team trading the game’s most valuable player in the midst of a wild card chase.
That said, if Moreno doesn’t trade Ohtani, there’s a substantial risk he leaves in the offseason for essentially no return.
The history of returns for deadline trade targets isn’t particularly impressive. But Ohtani is such a transcendent talent that he may be the exception to the rule.
And if the Angels falter down the stretch and don’t make the playoffs, he’ll have played his entire career in Anaheim without making the postseason or bringing back substantial talent.
Obviously the team could choose to resign him after the season, but given substantial commitments to Anthony Rendon, Mike Trout and others, it seems unlikely.
Moreno’s been resistant to ever exceeding the luxury tax threshold, and Ohtani could easily command $45-50 million per season on the open market.
That said, selling him during the season would be tough to take for Angels fans desperate for a playoff berth. And with Moreno’s popularity already tenuous, it could be viewed too risky, attendance wise.
Based on these comments though, all the teams salivating at the chance to add Ohtani for their own postseason run are likely to be disappointed.