What’s next… ‘Blockbuster Otani’ at the box office

■ MLB trade deadline next month…big-market teams eyeing deals

Angels unlikely to play autumn baseball

Ohtani, ‘free agent’ after this season

‘Free agent’ is the way to go.

Yankees, Dodgers, Mets, etc. in the mix

Angels still undecided


Japanese baseball prodigy Shohei Ohtani (29, Los Angeles Angels) is a hot commodity in the Major League Baseball trade market this year.

Major League Baseball’s trade deadline is on 2 August. In recent days, major league.com, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, and other local US sports media outlets have been reporting on the possibility of a trade for Ohtani. As of the 21st, the Angels are in third place in the American League West (49 wins and 48 losses), and with their chances of making it to autumn baseball dwindling, Ohtani could be traded.

Ohtani has been the subject of trade speculation recently because he is eligible for free agency after this season. Ohtani is one of the most marketable stars in the major leagues. Through 21, he has played in 95 games as a designated hitter, hitting .306 with 35 home runs, 76 RBIs, and 71 runs scored. That’s an exceptional performance, ranking in the top five in the American League in every hitting metric this year. On the mound, Ohtani has a 7-5 record with a 3.50 ERA in 18 games and 105.1 innings pitched. If Ohtani were to switch teams, it would be a game-changer in itself. It’s unlikely that the Angels will be able to keep him after the season, so they’d be better off trading him and getting a bunch of prospects instead of letting his salary skyrocket.

The New York Yankees, New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Baltimore Orioles have been consistently mentioned as possible suitors for Ohtani. If a trade were to happen, it would be a blockbuster.

“The New York Mets, who are 45 games out of first place and 51 games out of first place, have a wealth of prospects and could make a good offer to the Angels for Ohtani,” said Sports Illustrated on 21 January, listing four of the Mets’ top prospects, including shortstop Ronnie Morisio, as trade targets. Dodger Nation, which focuses on Dodger news, also recently reported that “the Dodgers would need at least six prospects to convince the Angels to give up Ohtani.”

The Angels have yet to make a decision on whether to trade Ohtani. Owner Arte Moreno, in particular, is reportedly reluctant to move him.

According to Major League Baseball Network columnist John Morosi, the Angels are likely to wait until just before the trade deadline. However, if Ohtani is traded, it is unlikely to be to a team in the NL West. Moreno has made it clear that he will not be sold to a division rival.

Meanwhile, Ohtani’s quest for 60 home runs is also in the spotlight. Ohtani has 35 homers in the 97 games the team has played this year. The maths suggests that 58 homers are possible this season. But Ohtani’s power doesn’t wane in the second half. In the 68 games he played in the second half of last year, Ohtani hit 15 homers, or one every 4.1 games. That was a better pace than in the first half (one every 4.7 games). If Ohtani maintains his current hitting pace, he’s not far off from breaking the 60-homer mark, something only six players have done in the 140-plus years of big league history.

“It’s fun and exciting to watch him play,” said Aaron Judge (31-New York Yankees), who won the home run title last year with 62 homers, “but records are records, and records are records. It would be fun to see him hit more than 63 home runs.”

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