One surprise team could get into the Shohei Ohtani bidding war, but it hinges on a surprising injury concern.
The Aug. 1 MLB trade deadline is right around the corner, and with it comes a wave of speculation regarding Los Angeles Angels two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani. In the last year of his contract, Ohtani feels destined to leave in free agency if the Angels can’t turn their season around quickly.
Now 46-48, the Angels are in a position where ignoring Ohtani trade offers would be borderline malpractice. The preference is obviously to keep the historically talented player around, but Ohtani wants to win. The Angels have not been able to build a winner around Ohtani for six years.
While Ohtani’s reported offseason wishlist includes remaining on the west coast (be it with Los Angeles or another team), he’s going to have suitors from all over the country if the Angels ultimately decide to set up shop in the trade market.
One potential outside-the-box suitor? The Baltimore Orioles.
Baltimore Orioles could target Shohei Ohtani if provided clean bill of health
Insider Jon Morosi pitched the idea on MLB Network. One potential hangup for Baltimore, however, could be Ohtani’s ongoing battle with a blister on his pitching hand.
The Angels are rumored to want multiple top-100 prospects in any Ohtani trade. As Morosi notes, the Orioles have a who’s who of top-100 prospects in their farm system. If any team can afford to shell out multiple quality young players for a possible rental, it’s Baltimore.
That’s the catch, of course, for the Orioles. Ohtani wants to be on the west coast and Baltimore is very much not on the west coast. However, Ohtani’s reported wishlist also includes winning and a private lifestyle, both of which are boxes Baltimore can check. The Orioles are currently 57-35, only one game out of first place in the ultra-competitive AL East. Ohtani would legitimately be joining one of the best teams in baseball.
For Baltimore, the short-term risk could be worth it provided one thing: Ohtani can pitch, and pitch well. Baltimore doesn’t really need help at the plate. With the likes of Adley Rutschman, Anthony Santander, Austin Hays in the middle of the lineup, Baltimore has had no trouble getting runners on base and batting them home. What has troubled the Orioles, however, is inconsistency on the mound.
Ohtani is one of the best pitchers in the MLB at full strength. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been at full strength lately, allowing nine earned runs over his last two appearances. If the Orioles are potentially trading for half a season of Ohtani, it’s probably not worth it unless he’s reliably available and effective on the mound.
Baltimore could take the plunge regardless — Ohtani would still offer quite the boon at the plate and he could be convinced to stay in Baltimore with a deep postseason run — but that’s a huge risk without assurances that Ohtani will provide immediate support in Baltimore’s biggest area of need. While teams like the Dodgers or the Giants can negotiate with more confidence in convincing Ohtani to stick around next season, the Orioles aren’t in that position. Therefore, it may not be worth multiple high-value prospects if Ohtani’s blister is a lingering problem.