Throughout Major League Baseball this season, one of the hottest storylines around the game has been Shohei Ohtani and his utter dominance, both on the mound and at the plate. The 29-year-old seems to be improving his game every single year he plays and is well on his way to a multitude of awards come season's end.
Through 89 games as a batter, Ohtani currently leads the major leagues in triples (six), home runs (32), SLG (.663), OPS (1.050), OPS+ (182) and total bases (226). He also has a .302 batting average, 11 stolen bases and 71 runs batted in.
On the mound, he has made 17 starts and is currently 7-4 with a 3.32 ERA, 4.02 FIP and 133 ERA+. In 100.1 innings of work, the right-hander has 132 strikeouts and 43 walks on the year. He currently leads the majors in H/9 with a cool 6.0.
While his performance on the field has been extraordinary, the bigger storyline surrounding Ohtani is whether the Angels will trade him by this year's deadline or not. To some, this may seem like an absolutely insane thought. To others, it's easy to see that this is a position the Angels have been in before and failed to capitalize on. The club can only carry the two best players on the planet (Ohtani and Mike Trout) for so long and expect them to stick around through disappointing season after disappointing season. Since they are currently below .500 on the year (45-46), is it finally time for the Angels to do the impossible?
With this year's deadline seemingly going to be buyer-heavy, there are going to be a ton of landing spots for the two-way phenom. The Dodgers and Yankees are two of the clubs who have the prospect depth, motivation and money to land the superstar, but what about some of the other teams who could potentially view Ohtani as nothing more than a rental?
MLB Network names Phillies as possible trade destination for Shohei Ohtani.
Enter the Philadelphia Phillies, who MLB Network says could be a landing spot for Ohtani, but without the intention of locking him up long-term.
Greg Amsinger, Yonder Alonso and Dan Plesac of MLBN spoke about Ohtani's situation at length and identified some teams that could pursue him at the deadline. The Dodgers, Yankees and Giants were all named as clubs that could pursue him with a long-term extension in mind. Beyond that, the Phillies, Orioles, Marlins, Rangers and Reds were named as clubs that could land him as a rental.
Plesac, an 18-year MLB veteran, made the hardest push for why the Phillies could be the ones to land Ohtani.
"They have some very enticing young players and Dave Dombrowski is from an old school mold. They got a taste of the World Series last year and they want to get back this year. If they're in the 'rental' category, I think they're in."- Dan Plesac, MLB Network on PHI/Ohtani
Amsinger points out that the Phillies have too much money tied up in players like Bryce Harper and Trea Turner to make a move towards a long-term extension with Ohtani. The man has a point. The Japanese star is headed towards what the industry widely expects will be the largest contract ever handed out in MLB history. The Phillies may not be a club to make such a move, but acquiring him as a rental is a possibility.
Last year was when the very first Ohtani trade rumors began to surface. At that point, it was said by many that a deal would not happen, simply because of the bad PR move it'd be by the Angels. Any hypothetical trade packges you may find on the internet are all going to surround multiple top prospects, even if the player they're being traded for is on an expiring contract.
So while this may never happen, it's an interesting question to ponder. As Phillies fans, are we comfortable moving on from one (or even two) of Justin Crawford, Johan Rojas, Mick Abel, Andrew Painter or Griff McGarry, plus multiple other big league-ready pieces?