When the name “Babe Ruth” comes to mind, what do you think about? Maybe the called shot or the first 60 home run season ever. There’s no doubt that Ruth is a baseball icon, but many of his records have since been broken. The one thing baseball fans never thought they’d see again? The two way player that Babe was, the pitcher and the hitter. Until Shohei Ohtani came along.
Ohtani has taken the baseball world by storm, already winning an MVP in his first “full season” for the Angels. During this season, Ohtani pitched a 9-2 win/loss record with a 3.18 ERA. That’s a solid pitching season to be sure, but that’s not even close to the best part. Ohtani also batted a .257 average, a .965 OPS, and an astounding 46 home runs, ranking second in the entire league.
Since then, Ohtani has only built off of that hot start. Through 39 games at the time of writing, Ohtani has a .287 batting average with eight home runs and a .874 OPS. He’s considered one of the best players in the game, if not, the best. Sadly for Angels fans, this hasn’t produced much team success. Ohtani has yet to make the playoffs, and it’s safe to say that’s a massive disappointment, considering the team also has another top five player in the league in outfielder Mike Trout.
Trout got his contract extension in 2019, a historically high 12-year 426.5 million dollar deal. Ohtani will likely get a deal worth
significantly more than Trout, but can the Angels spend nearly a billion total dollars on just two players? This question brings up another one: “What would a potential Shohei Ohtani trade look like?”. The Angels have seemed to be adamant that they are not trading their star player, but nothing is certain.
The last monster trade deal in the MLB involved the San Diego Padres and the Washington Nationals, with the Nationals trading outfielder Juan Soto to the Padres. In exchange for Soto and first baseman Josh Bell, the Nationals received pitcher MacKenzie Gore, shortstop CJ Abrams, and prospects Robert Hassell III (Padres #1 ranked prospect), James Wood (#3 ranked prospect), and Jarlin Susana.
This trade was a historic haul to be sure, but a trade for Ohtani would likely eclipse this. What Ohtani brings to a team is something that truly hasn’t been seen before. A team that trades for Ohtani not only gets an ace starting pitcher, but also an elite hitter in their lineup. 30 out of 30 MLB teams would love to have Shohei Ohtani on their roster, but which teams could actually pull it off?
3. Boston Red Sox
The pitching staff could use work, to put it nicely. The Red Sox currently have four starting pitchers with seven games started or more. The problem is none of these starters have a sub-5.00 ERA. Starting pitchers Chris Sale and Corey Kluber both haven’t exactly been living up to their billing, posting a 5.40 and a 6.41 ERA respectively.
The Red Sox have Sale under contract through the 2024 season, with his base salary over the next two years being 27.5 million dollars per year. Kluber is only on the hook for 10 million dollars on a one year contract, but it’s safe to say both have been disappointing this season. Ohtani would immediately upgrade the rotation, likely becoming the Ace the Red Sox desperately seem to need.
Offense hasn’t been the problem for the Red Sox this season, as they are posting the third best team batting average in the league, as well as being one of only five teams with 200+ RBIs. So, what’s the problem for the Red Sox? SImply put, it’s the division they play in. The Red Sox have the misfortune of sharing a division with the Orioles, Blue Jays, Yankees, and the red-hot Rays. All of the aforementioned teams are four games above .500 or better. Only one other division in all of baseball had 2 or more with such a winning percentage (NL West). Needless to say, the division is stacked.
It’s an arms race in the AL East. The Rays don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon and the Yankees could be in on Ohtani should he become a free agent. Boston only has one prospect inside the top 75 of MLB.com’s Top 100 prospects (Marcelo Mayer at number 5 overall), so he’d likely have to be packaged with other young talent and draft picks to get Ohtani. If the Red Sox can pull off a deal, they go from a cellar team in their division to a postseason contender immediately. Not only that, they keep an elite player like Ohtani out of the Yankees hands for the foreseeable future.
2. San Francisco Giants
Simply, The Giants just aren’t very good. Only five teams in the entire MLB have worse records than the Giants, sitting at 17-23. Yes, they do play in the same division as the Padres and the Dodgers, and while the Dodgers have impressed (best record in the NL at 26-15), the Padres have underperformed. The competition in the division isn’t anything stellar, yet the Giants still struggle.
The team’s batting average is, well, below average. If you took the batting averages of each of the starters and put them on a line graph, it’d look like a roller coaster. Consistency is missing from the offensive side of the ball, and Ohtani would help change that drastically. Their pitching? Same story, with a team average of 4.48 ERA (19th in the league). However, the team has a very solid top three. Logan Webb, Alex Cobb, and Anthony DeSclafani all have 3.20 ERA or under. It’s the 4th and the 5th pitcher that are question marks. You get Ohtani, and all of a sudden your rotation looks much scarier.
Do the Giants stink? Maybe but that might not even be their biggest issue. In a state that thrives on star power, especially in the sports world, they have none. The Angels have Ohtani and Trout. The Dodgers have Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman (and a recent World Series ring). The Padres boast a lineup that includes Juan Soto, Manny Machado, and Fernando Tatis.
Simply put? Ohtani gives the Giants the star player they haven’t had since the likes of Barry Bonds (with all due respect to Buster Posey). Ask Mariners fans what Ken Griffey Jr. did for not only the team, but the city. Ohtani would give them that same level of superstar. Would they win the World Series? Maybe not, but Ohtani would give them an icon that would get fans excited about their team.
1. St. Louis Cardinals
“Rough start” would be an extreme understatement when talking about the Cardinals. Before the season, FOX Sports had the Cardinals tied for sixth in World Series odds. One of the teams they were tied with? The Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays have the best record in baseball. The Cardinals? Last in their division.
The Cardinals are sporting the National League’s worst win/loss record, sitting in the NL Central basement at 16-25. The offense doesn’t seem to be the problem, with the team ranking seventh in the league in batting average. The pitching? Not as great. The team ranks 22nd in the league in ERA. The worse part? Of pitchers with 8 starts or more, the team doesn’t have a single starter with a sub 4.00 ERA at the time of writing. They need pitching help, and they need it badly.
In football, “defense wins championships”. If the same is true in baseball, the Cards and their lackluster pitching could be in trouble. Ohtani couldn’t fix the entire rotation, but he’d be one heck of a start.
The Cardinals aren’t afraid to take big swings (no pun intended) in the trade market. Just two years ago, St. Louis swung a blockbuster trade for star third baseman Nolan Arenado. It’s safe to say that the Cards don’t regret that trade.
Do the Cardinals need Ohtani? Maybe not, but if you want to revitalize your season, trading for Ohtani puts you right back in the mix for postseason success.