The Dodgers head into the offseason with quite a few questions looming about their 2023 roster. Trea Turner, Clayton Kershaw, Tyler Anderson, and Andrew Heaney (among others) are heading into free agency, and the team has decisions to make on whether to bring back Justin Turner (who has a $16 million team option) and Cody Bellinger (a non-tender candidate heading into his final year of salary arbitration).
Among those names mentioned are three starting pitchers and the guy who got the most playing time at designated hitter for the Dodgers in 2022. Hmmmm, I wonder if there might be a way to fill a starting pitcher hole and a DH hole with just one roster spot.
As luck would have it, just across town — and I mean way across town, the kind of “across town” you have to drive through eight other cites and switch counties to get to — there’s a starting pitcher/DH who has recently shown a wee bit of dissatisfaction with his current situation.
Angels P/DH Shohei Ohtani returned home to Japan this week and, in his first interview, was critical of Anaheim’s season (while diplomatically not naming the team specifically):
“I have to say that August and September in particular felt longer to me than last year,” Ohtani said, speaking in Japanese. “We were not able to play as many good games as we would like — including 14 consecutive losses. So I have a rather negative impression of this season.”
Going into his last season before free agency, it seems that Ohtani might welcome a trade to a team that is more likely to play more “good games,” possibly even into October.
So what might a trade between the Angels and Dodgers look like?
It wouldn’t be cheap for the Dodgers, that’s for sure. Ohtani will be making $30 million in 2023, and while normally a team whose owner is trying to sell might be looking to shed that salary, Shohei is Anaheim’s top marketing tool as a team. In 2022, they did three different Ohtani bobblehead giveaways, plus an Ohtani tote bag, an Ohtani snow globe, an Ohtani t-shirt, and an Ohtani baseball cap. So the Angels won’t be as desperate to shed the $30 million so some losing teams might be.
The one thing that might make Ohtani more affordable is that it’s just one year left before free agency, and the Angels by this point have to know they’re likely to lose him for nothing a year from now. BaseballTradeValues.com listed Ohtani’s median trade value at $52 million — which means they’re estimating him to be worth roughly $82 million in 2023, $52 million more than his salary.
BaseballTradeValues can’t tell you everything, though. According to that site, Will Smith’s median trade value is $55 million, estimating him to be worth $86.2 million over the rest of his time with Los Angeles while being paid $31.2 million. So by that estimate, a straight-up Smith-for-Ohtani trade makes sense! No, the Angels would not do that trade.
The Angels would almost certainly want a pitcher back in the trade, so let’s start with top pitching prospect Bobby Miller. Then you also have to replace Ohtani’s bat; Anaheim has shown interest in the past in prospect Andy Pages, and he’s only gotten better since then. And then, to sweeten the deal, let’s throw in another top pitching prospect, Ryan Pepiot.
In this trade scenario, the Dodgers are giving up their top two pitching prospects and their fourth-best hitting prospect, numbers 2, 4, and 6 overall in their system. The median trade value on those three guys adds up to $68.1 million, about $16 million more than Ohtani.
It’s an overpay on the Dodgers’ side, but is it enough of an overpay for the Angels to bite? The Dodgers might need to throw in another lesser prospect or two so the Angels can sell the trade to their fan base as quality and quantity. Jorbit Vivas and Michael Grove are both on L.A.’s 40-man roster without a clear role going forward, so including them could kill two birds with one stone.
That brings our final proposal to a five-for-one trade with the Angels receiving $74.2 million in trade value and the Dodgers receiving $52 million. I don’t know if that would get it done, but it seems like it might work.
What do you think? What would you give up for the Dodgers to get Ohtani?
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