Three Shohei Ohtani Trade Destinations

Shohei Ohtani
Shohei Ohtani / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Angels are under a lot of pressure to maximize the generational talents on their roster and play meaningful games well into the fall this year. That has never stopped them from flaming out and missing the playoffs before, but Shohei Ohtani's impending free agency looms over this season in particular. The pressure is already being put on publicly as Jeff Passan reported on Get Up this morning that if the Angels fall out of contention Ohtani could get traded by the deadline because he is definitely leaving otherwise.

This matches up with some rumblings we've heard but this is the first concrete intel we've gotten that the Angels have to deliver this year or their MVP is gone.

Los Angeles is 9-9 to start the year, three games behind the Texas Rangers in the AL West and eighth overall in the American League. Ohtani has been his standard self, batting .281 with four homers while going 2-0 in four starts and boasting a 0.86 ERA. His teammates will have to step up a lot more if the Angels want any hope of making their way up the standings.

But if they don't, who could trade for Ohtani at the deadline? Here are a few options.

New York Yankees

Obviously. Even this generation's less opulent version of the Yankees need to be mentioned in any superstar acquisition. Ohtani would help cover for the holes in the team's rotation behind Gerrit Cole and add another dangerous bat to the lineup. The question is if the Yankees have enough to give, because any team trading for Ohtani is giving up a king's ransom since they'll presumably also have the first opportunity to sign him to a big deal after the year.

The starting point would probably be up-and-coming shortstop Anthony Volpe and New York's four or five best minor-league prospects. If they're willing to go beyond that they might convince the Angels to take on Giancarlo Stanton's contract, which would help clear the books for a new Ohtani deal. They should not be considered frontrunners but they would certainly be in the conversation.

Seattle Mariners

If Ohtani becomes available the Mariners should be the first team to make a call. They'd have a built-in geographical advantage to re-sign him after the year as a West Coast squad. Teaming up Ohtani with Julio Rodriguez gives the team two face-of-the-franchise cornerstones to build around. Seattle should be doing all it can to capitalize on last year's drought-breaking playoff appearance, and only Rodriguez should be off the table.

The argument against this is twofold. One, the Angels would presumably charge a much higher price on an already-expensive player for a divisional rival. Two, due to the aforementioned geographical advantage, the Mariners have a legit shot at landing Ohtani in free agency outright. It's a big risk to take but they could wait to see how things play out and sign him without giving up assets. The decision will probably come down to how competitive the Mariners are by the deadline. If they continue on their current sub-.500 track, they won't make a deal. But if they're surging, they need to strongly consider it.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Yep, it's the Dodgers. Again. They already have a bunch of big salaries on the books with three guys making more than $20 million this year and five others checking in at $10 million or above. But their farm system was ranked second in all of baseball before the season started and they are always looking to add more high-profile talent. Trade talks could start with Julio Urías and at least four of the Dodgers' top-100 prospects, then the team could maneuver in the offseason to dump some salary before inking Ohtani to a massive deal.

The question, of course, is if the Angels would willingly trade Ohtani to their crosstown rivals. Arte Moreno doesn't seem like he cares about anything other than the team's bottom line, so it may not be as big of an issue as it might be in a place like New York. Even so, trading the team's biggest superstar ever to the Dodgers may be too big of a PR hit for even Moreno to swallow. And the Dodgers enjoy the same West Coast bump the Mariners do, increasing their odds of getting Ohtani in free agency. We can't count them out, though.