Can the Orioles Make a Run at a Shohei Ohtani Deal?

The Orioles have the prospects to get Shohei Ohtani.

The Baltimore Orioles are in the thick of the wild card race, and it just so happens that the player of the century, Shohei Ohtani, just might be available.  The Los Angeles Angels are of course not keen to trade their beloved superstar, but another lost season means that GM Perry Minasian is at least listening to offers.

Every team would or should be interested in Ohtani, because there is no one else like him.  He has already compiled 5 WAR on his way to possibly winning back-to-back MVP awards.  His offense isn’t quite as strong as last year, with an OPS+ of “only” 133, compared to last year’s 158, but he is pitching much better.  Once again an All-Star as both a pitcher and hitter, his ERA is down to 2.81 after finishing at 3.18 last year.  His strikeout rate on the mound is up to 36.4% from 29.3%.

The cost to acquire Ohtani was already extremely high, and it surely went up after Friday night, when the Cincinnati Reds got a massive return for Luis Castillo.  He was the best starter on the market, but two Top 100 prospects and two flyers was a clear (but necessary) overpay by the Seattle Mariners.

A trade for Ohtani is extremely unlikely to happen because owner Arte Moreno never wants to sell, but a rival executive said the Angels “want something like your top four prospects.”  That price might be too much to stomach for the Orioles, but it is at least worth thinking about.

If we take that executive literally, then Mike Elias would be trading away Grayson Rodriguez, Gunnar Henderson, DL Hall, and Colton Cowser Jackson Holliday is now one of the top four, but new draft picks are not allowed to be traded until after the season.

It is safe to that deal would not happen.  Much of Birdland, including myself, is not willing to give up that much for Juan Soto, the only player remotely available who has a higher trade value than Ohtani.

But that executive is speaking more generally.  A team with an average farm system might have to give up their four, but the Orioles still have arguably the best farm system, ranked first at FanGraphs after the draft.  That means their top four is far more value than most teams, so they would not have to give up their four best prospects exactly to get Ohtani. The Orioles’ top three might still be too much to give up, and the Angels might not accept only three players, either.

It is worth noting that Ohtani had a clear preference for the west coast when he first came to the US, so there is a good chance that the Orioles would not be able to sign him to an extension.  They would be getting him for the rest of this season and all of next.

Using Baseball Trade Values’ Trade Simulator, we can come up with a realistic trade offer.  You can quibble with the exact values since we all think of players a little differently, but the general idea stands.  All figures on in millions of dollars.  After their most recent update, Ohtani’s trade value is 109.7.

Angels get: Rodriguez, Hall, Coby Mayo, and Jordan Westburg

The total here comes out to 114.7.  Due to the Angels undying need for better pitching (insert Kyle Bradish joke here), I think they would demand GrayRod and Hall no matter what.  Minasian might still ask for more than this, but all four players are in the Top 100, and three are very close to the Majors, which fits LA’s aims.  They still want to compete, and they would also get much-needed help in the infield.  Westburg would allow them to move on from former-O Andrew Velazquez.

The Orioles would obviously be giving up a lot here, but I think they could accept since they’d be getting a hitter and pitcher at once.  If these four top prospects aren’t quite enough, Elias could throw in Drew Rom or Carter Baumler, who the Angels would likely think more of than other teams.

What do you think Birdland?  Would you take this deal?