Padres are suitable destination for Shohei Ohtani

Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

There are rumors that the Angels are listening to trade offers for superstar Shohei Ohtani. If so, the Padres need to be at the forefront.

Obviously, any time a superstar is made available for trade by his current team, just about every single team will have various levels of interest. That is especially true when your general manager is named A.J. Preller. The man eats, sleeps, and breathes for opportunities to make a splash. With all the hoopla surrounding the Juan Soto saga, there is another star looming on another team going nowhere that might be dealt.

To say Shohei Ohtani is a generational talent is like describing a hurricane as a mild drizzle. He is Babe Ruth, but perhaps better. He is one part All-Star slugger from the left side of the batter’s box and another part Cy Young candidate on the mound. He is basically two All-Star players on your roster wrapped into one. Over the last two seasons, he is both top 10 in wRC+ at the plate and top 20 in ERA+ on the mound. It’s dizzying to think about.

Jon Heyman of the NY Post reported that the Angels are “not hanging up the phone” in regards to trade talks for their Japanese megastar. The Padres are being aggressive with a possible Juan Soto deal. They should be equally as aggressive in acquiring Ohtani if the opportunity arises. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic also reported that the Padres have “checked in” on the reigning AL MVP.

The biggest question mark here is how willing the Angels are to move the two-way star. He is making just over $5 million this year. That is pennies on the dollar compared to what he is worth.

The haul the Angels would get for him likely compares to Soto’s value, with the exception that Ohtani is a free agent one year sooner than the Nationals slugger. Him being a star pitcher along with the bat adds to the intrigue and murkiness of the minutiae of what a deal would look like.

In any case, the Padres are an ideal landing spot for Ohtani. First, there is a history with the superstar and the Padres’ general manager. Preller went hard after Ohtani back in 2017 when he was an international free agent.

San Diego’s general manager has an affinity for Asian stars, given his history with Yu Darvish, dating back to his days with the Rangers. He brought Ha-Seong Kim to San Diego as a utility infielder from Korea after he put together All-Star numbers in the KBO.

Next, the Padres have a clear desire to win now and the payroll to back that up. That is not something can be said about the Angels organization. Even with just one playoff appearance in Preller’s tenure in San Diego, the COVID-shortened 2020 season, no one can accuse Padres brass of not wanting to win.

Peter Seidler, Preller, and company made big trades and have spent big money. None of this can be used to describe Art Moreno’s workings as the Angels’ owner. If Ohtani is able to go somewhere where they want to win, the Padres are right in that realm.

The Padres have a young core of stars that have championship aspirations. Imagine adding Ohtani to the nucleus of All-Stars Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, Jake Cronenworth, and Joe Musgrove (assuming he’s extended). That would stack up against any group of players from any of the other 29 franchises in baseball.

Plus, San Diego is only an hour down the freeway from Anaheim. The disruption of the move would not be as dramatic as it would to other teams. On the Angels’ side, the Padres offer little threat as a team not only outside of their division but also in the league.

On the Padres’ side, the biggest obstacle would be the eventual need to extend Ohtani. He will be a free agent following the 2023 season. Some owners would shudder at the thought of what Ohtani might command on the open market. The Padres are already in thin air in regard to payroll. Imagine what the top hitters and pitchers in baseball get paid. Ohtani is both of those and will be expected to be compensated accordingly.

His Angels teammate Mike Trout is the top-paid hitter, per average annual value, at $37.1 million. Max Scherzer takes the cake as the game’s top-paid pitcher, at $43.3 million annually. Ohtani deserves more than either of those deals, as he will not even be 30 when he hits free agency.

However, with a once-in-a-lifetime talent like Ohtani, this appears to be a scenario where the Padres make the deal now and figure out the rest later after he’s in brown and gold.

Given the ample supply of top prospects and controllable, young core the Padres have, they have as good a shot as anyone in swinging a trade for Ohtani.

Reiteration is needed that nothing is imminent. The most likely scenario is that the Angels hold onto Ohtani for the rest of this season and perhaps beyond. They may try to build a winner in Anaheim in 2023 for one last run with their generational superstar. His availability is still up in the air. Preller should make sure his cell phone is charged in order to work out a deal for this franchise-altering talent.

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Nick Lee
Native of Escondido, CA. Lived in San Diego area for 20 years. Padres fan since childhood (mid-90s). I have been writing since 2014. I currently live near Seattle, WA and am married to a Seattle sports girl. I wore #19 on my high school baseball team for Tony Gwynn. I am a stats and sports history nerd. I attended BYU on the Idaho campus. I also love Star Wars.
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5 months ago

Perhaps better than Babe Ruth? Did you even think about that before you wrote it? Ohtani has in his 23-27 years put up 18.7 WAR as a hitter and a pitcher. Babe Ruth, in his 23-27 years, put up 48.3 WAR. Read that again. Ohtani has 114 HRs, Ruth had 188.

Random Dude
Random Dude
5 months ago

I’d much rather have Ohtani than Soto. He would fit in much better was well, and would not be a negative on defense (as Soto would be). His exuberance alone would be highly beneficial. The only problem is Preller. I cringe to think what he will give up.

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