Yankees linked as top team for potential Shohei Ohtani trade

MLB: All Star Game-National League at American League, yankees, shohei ohtani, mets
Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

With the Yankees looking to jump-start their season as they sit a game out of a playoff spot, they’re linked to the best player in the sport. On ESPN’s Get Up, insider Buster Olney reported that the Yankees could be desperate to add a superstar talent this deadline, and if Shohei Ohtani were to be made available by the Los Angeles Angels, they’d be the top bidder.

Considering that Ohtani initially denied the Yankees in 2017, not wanting to play in the New York market, it seems that years of losing with the Angels could have changed his tune regarding the Bronx. The Angels are reportedly not going to move Ohtani, and they still have an outside shot at the postseason, but a hamate bone injury to superstar CF Mike Trout has dampened those hopes.

With the Yankees having some notable prospects and the Los Angeles Angels staring down the barrel of an Ohtani-less future, could these two former playoff rivals form a match?

What Would the Yankees Offer for Shohei Ohtani?

The Yankees have a robust farm system with a lot of young names in the Dominican Summer League and Florida Complex League, but the pitching has dominated the higher levels of their farm system. Between High-A and Triple-A alone, the Yankees have seven pitchers that boast a K% above 25% and seven with a sub-4 ERA.

Clayton Beeter was even selected to represent the Yankees at the MiLB Future’s Game, showing off a solid four-seam fastball and devastating slider. On the position player side of things, names like Spencer Jones (also at the MiLB Future’s Game), Everson Pereira, Austin Wells, Jasson Dominguez, and Oswald Peraza are either already top 100 prospects or could become top 100 prospects in the next couple of years.

While not the best farm in baseball, it’s certainly a deep one with enough talent to entice the Angels into a potential deal for a transcendent player. It’s hard to place a value on half of a season of Shohei Ohtani, as he’s one of the best players we have ever seen, and arguably the greatest talent in the history of sports.

mets, yankees, shohei ohtani
Oct 5, 2022; Oakland, California, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani (17) delivers a pitch against the Oakland Athletics during the second inning at RingCentral Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

Ohtani is one of the game’s top pitchers, sporting a 3.32 ERA and 21.9% K-BB%, and his ridiculous 2.86 ERA and 507 strikeouts in 396.2 IP make him one of the best in the game since 2021. Combine that with his monstrous 181 wRC+ on the season with a .663 SLG% and 32 HRs, and suddenly you have an AL Cy Young Award candidate who also has a chance to break Aaron Judge’s AL HR record set in 2022.

He’s in the midst of one of the greatest seasons we will ever see, and since 2021 he’s far and away the leader in fWAR (23.5) while not even being finished with the 2023 season. He can hit rockets like he’s Giancarlo Stanton and also throws with the velocity of Gerrit Cole, and the Yankees would need to throw the kitchen sink to try and land an athlete who will be remembered for generations.

Starting this offer would be both Jasson Dominguez and Austin Wells, as they’re the Yankees’ current two top 100 prospects and aren’t too far from being added to an MLB roster. The Angels would also want young starters with control and prospects, which is where Clarke Schmidt could bolster this package. A league-average starter trending upwards, the Angels could view him as a long-term rotation piece and the Yankees would be replacing him with Ohtani.

As for pitching prospects, Will Warren, Chase Hampton, Drew Thorpe, Richard Fitts, and Clayton Beeter represent their top options. Dealing Warren and Beeter to the Angels makes sense, especially considering both are in Triple-A and just a step away from making the leap into the Majors. Randy Vasquez and Jhony Brito are options as well, but the Angels might prefer the upside the aforementioned top five arms possess over the floor Vasquez and Brito present.

richard fitts, yankees
Auburn’s Richard Fitts (43) pitches during the Auburn-Alabama Capital City Classic at Riverfront Park in Montgomery, Ala., on Tuesday, March 26, 2019. Alabama defeated Auburn 6-3. Jc Aubase 27

For a final package, the Yankees and Brian Cashman could put together an offer where they net themselves the hitter and pitcher that they desperately need.

  • Jasson Dominguez OF
  • Austin Wells C
  • Everson Pereira OF
  • Clarke Schmidt RHP
  • Drew Thorpe RHP

Everson Pereira and Clarke Schmidt are already on the 40-Man Roster, while Wells and Dominguez are both in Double-A. Thorpe should be in Double-A soon, as he’s been the best pitcher in High-A this year, and his advanced command and sequencing make him the Yankees’ best pitching prospect according to MLB Pipeline. This package puts the Angels back in a position to compete within the next two or three years, and while they should just retain Ohtani, they don’t seem serious about offering him over $500 million in the offseason.

The question remains whether the Yankees would be able to entice Ohtani into staying in the Bronx, and while ultimately money speaks loudest, concerns still arise about a potential West Coast preference. From a financial standpoint, the Yankees acquiring Shohei Ohtani would be the best move this franchise could ever make. Yankee Stadium would be packed every night just to watch him play, and YES would see a spike in viewership as well.

Amazon, Apple TV, ESPN, and FOX would rush to the Yankees to acquire as many games as possible, jerseys would sell out the day they were printed, and the Yankees would immediately generate enough revenue to make the Ohtani contract one of baseball’s most beneficial. Winning a World Series would generate more revenue from the lucrative contracts signed by TBS and FOX to cover the playoffs, and Ohtani’s first playoff game would be one of the most viewed games in recent baseball memory.

shohei ohtani, yankees, angels
Jul 31, 2022; Anaheim, California, USA; Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) singles in the fifth inning against the Texas Rangers at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Just the effect of Ohtani and Judge hitting next to each other would put a pit in the stomach of an opposing pitcher, and the effects it could have on the Yankees’ brand would be unquantifiable. They’d draw international attention, and press from all over the world would want to cover the chronicles of Shohei Ohtani in the Bronx.

A World Series game with Shohei Ohtani involved would be one of the most watched games in WS history, and prices for tickets would skyrocket and still be met with fans paying hand over fist. The Yankees have the farm to get this move done, but the Angels’ willingness to move such a transcendent player while they have a shot at the postseason and Ohtani’s willingness to stay on the east coast serve as two massive variables.

Will the Yankees get Shohei Ohtani? Most likely not, it seems the Angels are firm on keeping him, and Buster Olney did use the stipulation that “if” Ohtani were to be moved, the Yankees would be the likeliest fit. The Yankees covet Shohei Ohtani, and they were all-in on him back in the winter of 2017. In 2022 they made a “serious offer” for the two-way superstar, but LA didn’t seem willing to deal him away.

If given a legitimate opportunity to get Shohei Ohtani, the Yankees seem serious about throwing their hat in the ring, even if it means coming up a little short. They have the prospects, they have the money, they just need the Angels and Shohei Ohtani to reciprocate that same interest.