Though the San Diego Padres have recently stolen some of the San Francisco Giants’ luster with their never-ending MLB trade deadline moves of (clears throat) Josh Bell, Brandon Drury, Josh Hader and Juan Soto, the Bay Area might be getting some juice back in next year’s free agency cycle by tangling with the Dodgers.
While it seemed for a fraction of a second like Shohei Ohtani might also be traded in the wake of the Soto deal, the ask was far too massive there, and the Angels never came particularly close to dealing their two-way star.
That’s not for lack of trying on the rest of the league’s part, though; according to Ken Rosenthal, the Padres were in on both Ohtani and Soto, but couldn’t have possibly come away with both, considering they had a few identical prospects lingering in both packages.
Finishing a Soto deal rather than banking on an Ohtani pipe dream was an excellent choice, but that means that the face of baseball is still untethered beyond 2023, when he’ll enter free agency at just 29 years old.
Every second he remains in Anaheim brings the potential of another famous Tungsten Arm O’Doyle Game, where the right-hander/slugger performs some turn-of-the-century phenomenal feat, only to watch his team crumple in a heap around him. Ohtani didn’t join the Angels to lose. He did, however, join them in part because of the west coast comfort factor.
That means, if he does reach free agency in a year and a half (he likely will), MLB executives believe he’ll be interested in staying out west, potentially pitting the Dodgers and Giants against one another.
Dodgers Rumors: LA, Giants to battle for Shohei Ohtani
Though it might not be in the Angels’ best interest for it to occur, Ohtani seems destined to hit free agency. The two-way star reportedly commanded six-prospect packages in recent trade talks, but nothing materialized or approached the finish line.
That’s an accurate assessment of his value. It’s also a load.
If Ohtani does walk for nothing, rival executives seem to believe he’ll stay in the same geographic location. Unfortunately for Dodgers fans, the same executive who initially pitched a Dodgers-Giants battled walked it back, saying he believed Ohtani’s morals wouldn’t allow him to backstab the Angels like that, and claiming the Mariners — a rumored suitor in 2017 — would also be a possibility.
So … he’d walk directly to his heated division rival, in that case. Alright.
Whether it’s a Giants-Dodgers clash or an all-out west coast free-for-all, Ohtani will either be the Soto-esque “hottest name on the market” next July, or he’ll be the type of free agent prize Andrew Friedman types dream of for decades on end, hoping to stumble into one someday. With everyone besides Mookie Betts, Chris Taylor, Freddie Freeman and Austin Barnes off the books in time for 2024 (g’bye, Trevor Bauer!), it could be time for LA to wreak havoc once again after a (fairly) conservative trade deadline this time around.