Angels sale could boost Shohei Ohtani’s trade chances; these five teams are in the best position to land him

The Los Angeles Angels announced on Tuesday that owner Arte Moreno initiated a formal process to assess “strategic alternatives” involving the franchise, including a potential sale. Moreno, owner of the Angels since buying the franchise from Disney in 2003 for $184 million, said the following in his statement:

“Although this difficult decision was entirely our choice and deserved a lot of thought, my family and I have finally come to the conclusion that the time is right. 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, this development will have major repercussions across the league, largely because it could pave the way for a Shohei Ohtani Trade. As CBS Sports reported last month, rival front offices believe the biggest hurdle to an Ohtani trade would be signing Moreno; if he is out of the picture, the chances of an offseason deal would increase.

It’s fair to wonder why a new owner would agree to trade one of baseball’s best players, but the situation is comparable to what Washington nationals faces this past deadline with John Soto. Ohtani, 28, is a year away from free agency, at which point he’s certain to demand a massive contract. The new owner will already have several significant obligations on the books, including those granted to Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon, and will probably have to rely financially to finalize the purchase. As a result, they can avoid another big deal — 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 plays after next season. He has publicly stated that his top priority is winning games, which makes it possible – if not downright likely – that the Angels are way down on his list of favorite contenders.

Let’s say the Angels’ next owner accepts that reality, and Ohtani is placed on the block this offseason. Which teams are best positioned to land him in a trade? Here are five that come to mind, listed below in order of perceived likelihood.

The Dodgers have fallen in love with Ohtani since trying to get him out of high school. He opted to play professionally in Japan instead, but the Dodgers are unlikely to harbor any ill will about his decision. Senior executive Andrew Friedman is no stranger to making successful trades, and his top-tier player development apparatus has once again armed him with more top youngsters to offer the Angels. Dodgers could dangle a receiver combination Diego Cartaya; right-handers Bobby Miller, Ryan Pepiotand Pierre Gavin; and infielders Michael Vargas and Michael Busch. The only potential hitch in a Dodgers pursuit is if the Angels choose not to move Ohtani to their biggest geographic rival.

The Mets have a lot of things working in their favor. Owner Steven Cohen has demonstrated time and time again that he’s 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 notable youngsters they could float to angel lane. This group includes the rookie third baseman Brett Baty and receiver Francisco Álvarez, who is one of the game’s best prospects. The Mets could even include one of their first-round picks from last summer, whether it’s catcher Kevin Parada or shortstop Jett Williams. Unlike Juan Soto’s talks, there’s no intradivisional quirkiness to get in the way.

Speaking of those Soto talks, it makes sense to include one of the other finalists. The Cardinals still have two of the best prospects in the minors, at third base / outfielder Jordan Walker and shortstop Masin Winnand they have a bunch of youngsters that could serve as side pieces, including pitchers Help Cooper, Gordon Graceffo, Matthew Liberator, and Tink From now on. The Cardinals have shown pony will in the past, and if Ohtani is serious about prioritizing victory above all else, he could do worse than settling in St. Louis for the long haul.

The Yankees are hard to read in these situations. They would make sense as a landing spot for Ohtani (again, most teams too), but the question is, are they ready to part ways with the prospects needed to seal a deal? Although the Yankees reduced the depth of their farming system by trading for Frankie Montas (and others) at expiration, they were able to retain shortstop prospects Antoine Volpe and Oswald Peraza. Outfielder Jasson Dominguez also remains in the system and rumors if New York was ready to ship it in the right trade. Another factor to consider is how the Judge Aaron the talks could impact 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 cap off our market skimming with a wildcard team: Rangers. If owner Ray Davis and general manager Chris Young want to put the Jon Daniels era behind them, they could pull off another stunt by adding Ohtani. Rangers certainly have the wherewithal to get a deal done, as they have several notable youngsters in their farm system, like the third baseman Josh Jung; right-handers Jack Leiter, Owen White, Rocking Kumar, and Brock Porter; and outfielder Evan Carter. It’s possible that Rangers being in the same division would reduce their chances of completing a trade; it’s also possible that Young wants to build from within and that Davis would rather not award another big contract, having received mixed results from Corey Seager and Marcus Semien. Still, if Rangers really want to take the proverbial leap, then Ohtani should be one of their top targets this winter.

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