The Yankees could land Shohei Ohtani but it comes with a huge risk

MLB: New York Yankees at Los Angeles Angels, shohei ohtani, yankees
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

New York Yankees‘ General Manager Brian Cashman could potentially consider acquiring Shohei Ohtani from the Los Angeles Angels, but this venture comes with a substantial risk.

Ohtani will be a free agent after the 2023 season, meaning he’ll be free to sign with any team willing to pay him $500 million over the next decade. The Yankees, who recently signed a significant contract with Aaron Judge amid competition from the San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres, must weigh this carefully.

Current State of the Yankees Roster

Conversations with the management led Judge to believe that the Yankees are in the process of creating a World Series-worthy team. However, given the current state of the roster, this appears far from reality. Judge has already spent multiple occasions on the injured list, and the team has been struggling with aging contracts that offer little value.

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Future Prospects and Ohtani’s Potential Choices

If the future doesn’t look promising, Ohtani might not wish to stay in the Bronx long-term. He could potentially take his talents to a team like the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are a seemingly perfect fit.

The Dodgers not only possess an impressive prospect pool to acquire Ohtani but also have the financial stability to close the deal. The Yankees, although known for their aggressive approach toward signing star free agents, might find Ohtani a challenging prospect to land.

Analyzing Ohtani’s Performance

At 29, Ohtani is not only one of the best pitchers but arguably also the best hitter in the game this season. In 95 games, he boasts a .306 batting average, .397 OBP, 35 home runs, 76 RBIs, a 22.4% strikeout rate, a 13.1% walk rate, and 185 wRC+. Ohtani’s statistics might put him in the running for both the MVP award and Cy Young.

As a pitcher, Ohtani records a 3.50 ERA, 11.88 strikeouts per nine innings, an 87.5% left-on-base rate, a 44.9% ground ball rate, and a 16.7% HR/FB ratio across 105.1 innings.

The Trade-off for the Yankees

Should the Yankees decide to vie for the superstar two-way player, they would need to part with a significant package of top young players. Making such a hefty move without any assurance of Ohtani’s continued stay in New York, or at least a right of refusal to match other offers, could be bad business.

Dismantling the farm system without any commitment would be a misstep, better reserved for a player like Juan Soto, who has a year left of control and might be more likely to remain in New York given a substantial contract offer.

The Angels’ Position and the Future

While the Angels are quietly open to offers, they do not intend to trade Ohtani unless circumstances change dramatically in the coming days. The Angels, trailing nine games behind the Texas Rangers in the AL West and five games behind in the Wild Card race, would need to consider their position carefully. A few losses before the deadline could lead them to capitalize on Ohtani before potentially losing him to free agency.

Ohtani could provide the Yankees with something they desperately need: an elite starting pitcher with one of the game’s best bats. However, the risk associated with this move might be too high, and Cashman might be unwilling to risk the farm system for a mere possibility.