By R.J. Anderson
4 hrs ago•8 min read
One of the biggest questions heading into Major League Baseball's trade deadline (Tuesday, Aug. 2 at 6 p.m. ET) is what the future holds for the Los Angeles Angels and two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani. Rumors surfaced last week that the Angels are listening to inquiries on Ohtani, albeit not in a manner that indicates a trade is likely to occur before Tuesday. Still, the Angels' willingness to hear out offers is a significant development, and a hint he could be on the move this offseason, right? Yes and no.
Ask any honest front-office person and they'll concede that every desirable player gets discussed in this manner at some point or another, including the golden goose types who aren't on the block. It's how the industry works, and it's how teams gather information on a given player's trade value and their potential list of suitors.
Even accepting that background information, Ohtani's availability is the first acknowledgement the Angels have made of an upcoming inflection point. Ohtani is scheduled to reach free agency after next season, leaving Los Angeles with precious little time to convince him to stay beyond then, either by signing a long-term extension beforehand or returning after he's engaged in a free-agent tour.
CBS Sports has spent the past few days asking executives with other teams for their thoughts on the Ohtani situation: how likely he is to suit up for the Angels on Opening Day 2023, what factors are working in favor of a trade, and what factors are working in opposition. We've distilled those conversations into two parts: the first highlighting the three reasons why Ohtani could be traded before next season, and the second detailing the one big reason he may stick in town until next deadline, at minimum.
1. A huge payday is on the way
As mentioned in the introduction, Ohtani will qualify for free agency after next season. We don't have a crystal ball, but we feel confident in writing that he'll be one of the most sought-after free agents of all-time barring a devastating injury. He is, at present, a 28-year-old with a career 137 OPS+ and 131 ERA+. A lot of players are described as being without equal; Ohtani validates the claim. There's no one else, in the majors or the minors alike, who can hit and pitch at his level consistently.
There's no doubt that Ohtani is going to have all the usual big spenders interested in his services. Only a loose understanding of the relationship between supply and demand is required to conclude that he's going to have a lot of lucrative contract offers heading his way. Factor in his proximity to hitting the open market -- around 16 months' time -- and the chances of him agreeing to an extension seem remote; he just doesn't have a long or rocky road between him and the open market.
The threat of being in competition with all the league's high rollers should concern the Angels since there's no guarantee they'll offer him the most money. Bear in mind, the Angels have never spent as much as $200 million on an Opening Day payroll. They already have more than $90 million committed to three players (Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, and Raisel Iglesias) for the foreseeable future. Ohtani making $30 million a season -- a conservative estimate -- would mean they'd have more than 60 percent of their usual payroll wrapped up in just 15 percent of their active roster. From this perspective, that seems like an untenable situation … and that's a low estimate.
To recap: the Angels seem unlikely to convince Ohtani to sign before he hits free agency, and they seem doubtful to be the highest bidder. Maybe there would be more reason for optimism about their chances of retaining him long-term if there was a separating factor other than money working in their favor. Alas, the separating factor might make him more inclined to leave, thereby upping the likelihood of a trade.
2. Ohtani wants to play for a winner
It's fair to write that most players -- as is their right -- are inclined to take the highest offer. Ohtani is the white crow, in that respect, since he's demonstrated before that the dollar is not his primary motivator. He took less money to come over to the majors as a 23-year-old, when he could have waited a few years and signed for substantially more. If a fat check is a certainty, his decision seems even more likely to be informed by something else, like which team is best positioned to win a title. Heck, Ohtani has hinted as much within the past year.
"I really like the team. I love the fans. I love the atmosphere of the team," he told Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times last September. "But, more than that, I want to win. That's the biggest thing for me. I'll leave it at that."
Even if the Angels can offer Ohtani a ton of money -- and as we established above, it may not be the most money -- it's not clear they can offer him a realistic path to a World Series ring. If they can, they sure haven't proven as much. Ohtani has been a member of the Angels roster since 2018. They haven't finished at .500 or better in that time, and they aren't likely to change that this year; rather, they're on pace to win the lowest percentage of games in his big-league career. Yikes.
The Angels haven't done themselves any favors by embracing constant turnover in the dugout. Ohtani has already suited up for four managers, and that number will likely increase to five if he is in town next spring. The only consistency with the Angels, then, has been dreadful underperformance borne from their inability to amass the necessary depth, pitching talent, and luck to contend for a playoff spot.
Maybe general manager Perry Minasian can change the tides this winter. The problem is he'll be on his third try, and neither of the first two have suggested he's up to the task of a quick turnaround. Having Trout and Ohtani in tow, among others, means there is a chance Minasian gets it right. There's just ample reason to doubt it.
So, the Angels' chances of offering Ohtani the most money or winning enough games to convince him to sign on beyond next season are in doubt. That leaves one other reason for the Angels to consider making a move between now and next Opening Day.
3. Long-term interests
It sounds silly to write that if the Angels want to win anytime soon they should consider trading Ohtani, but there's something to it.
Say that everything above is correct. That they're unlikely to outbid everyone for Ohtani, and that even if they did, he might decide he'd rather take less money to go play for a more certain contender. That would leave the Angels recouping only a draft pick upon his departure. We'll put it mildly by writing that the Angels could use a heck of a lot more help than a draft pick if they're going to dig out of this hole before the end of Trout's prime. (He'll turn 31 this week.)
The reality of the situation is straightforward for the Angels. Ohtani's trade value will continue to decline incrementally every day between now and next winter, with a big drop-off occurring next Opening Day, when an acquiring team would be unable to recoup its own draft pick. It would behoove the Angels, if they want to net the maximum return, to outline their vision of the future -- and how it would differ without Ohtani on the roster -- sooner than later.
Trading any kind of superstar, especially an historic talent, is not an easy decision. In an instance like this, where the Angels have been unable to capitalize on rostering Ohtani and Trout for years, it's nothing short of an admission of organizational failure. And that, according to the executives we talked to, is why the majority of them believe Ohtani has a better than 50 percent chance at opening next season as a member of the Angels -- because owner Arte Moreno won't have it any other way.
Major League Baseball teams have only a few more hours to finalize their summer shopping. This year's MLB trade deadline will pass at 6 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Aug. 2. After that point, teams will no longer be able to execute deals until the offseason.
The deadline usually passes on July 31, but commissioner Rob Manfred gained the ability to set it on any day between July 28 and Aug. 3 as part of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement between MLB and the MLB Players Association. That, in short, is why the deadline is on Aug. 2, a few days later than normal.
Regardless of when the deadline passes, you might be wondering what the top storylines are heading into the final days of trade season. CBS Sports has you covered below, with information and answers on eight frequently asked questions.
Our Dayn Perry recently categorized each of the 30 teams as buyers, sellers, or something in between. While taking Perry seriously is always a risk, it's one that we've opted to take. Here's a look at who he categorized as buyers or sellers (do note that that teams are listed in alphabetical order based on their city name):
Any team not listed above was considered to be something in between, meaning they could buy or sell, or they could stand pat, depending on how negotiations develop.
The biggest trade of the deadline to date saw the Mariners acquire right-hander Luis Castillo from the Reds in exchange for four prospects, including infielders Noelvi Marte and Edwin Arroyo. (You can read our in-depth analysis of that one here.)
Most of the other big dominoes are yet to tumble, meaning the next tier of big non-Castillo trades includes outfielders heading to the American League East: Andrew Benintendi linking up with the Yankees and David Peralta joining the Rays. Hey, we said there are a lot of other marquee names who could be move sooner than later.
The biggest of those marquee names would be Nationals outfielder Juan Soto, who became available earlier this month after he rejected a 15-year, $440 million extension offer.
Soto is a 23-year-old on a Hall-of-Fame track who is under team control for two more seasons after this one, making him one of the most sought-after trade targets in league history. CBS Sports identified the Cardinals as the team best suited to land him based on their combination of prospects and young big-league players, as well as their financial outlook and their front office's history of making similar trades.
The Nationals would seem incentivized to move Soto before the deadline, as the franchise is expected to be purchased by new owners this offseason. It seems unlikely that the incoming owners would want their first big move to be trading off the face of the franchise.
The Angels have reportedly listened to offers on another young superstar in two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani, but a trade seems far less likely than in Soto's case.
Ohtani is under team control for an additional season, yet the situation is more complicated. Industry types who have spoken to CBS Sports have noted that owner Arte Moreno seems less inclined to green-light a deal, and that the Angels will presumably hold onto Ohtani and try once again to win in 2023.
It would be reasonable to state that if Ohtani is to be traded, then it'll likely come this offseason -- or, perhaps, next deadline.
Here are the top five available players based on our rankings who haven't already been traded or mentioned in this piece:
We'll note that Reynolds seems unlikely to go and that the Athletics could likewise decide to hold onto Murphy until the winter. The other three -- Montas, Contreras and Happ -- seem to have a better than 50/50 shot at being moved by Tuesday night.
A name you'll find much lower on our rankings is Joey Gallo, the Yankees outfielder who has struggled since being acquired in a trade last deadline. Gallo is an impending free agent and increasingly a man without a home on New York's roster.
Naturally, that combination has fueled speculation that Gallo could be on his way out, with the Padres and Rangers, among others, standing out as potential destinations.
Gallo is one of the deadline's most intriguing players worth watching, if only because of the possibility that he could regain his old form with a move away from New York.
It's not often that you see a clear division favorite trade away players from the big-league roster, but the rumor mill has had the Astros weighing deals that would send out a starting pitcher and possibly an outfielder.
The Astros currently have a six-pitcher rotation that includes the likes of Jake Odorizzi and José Urquidy. On the outfield side of things, the Astros have reportedly received calls on Jose Siri, who has fallen out of their center-field timeshare.
The Astros have expressed interest in catchers and Nationals first baseman Josh Bell, but it's unclear if the aforementioned players would be involved in those deals.
We'll conclude by pointing out that the Braves, the defending World Series champions, positioned themselves to win the trophy last July when they acquired Jorge Soler, Eddie Rosario, Joc Pederson and Adam Duvall in unheralded deals.
Will the Braves be able to work similar miracles over the next few days?
The Braves will presumably be in the market for another bat, likely of the right-handed variety. Likewise, you can count on them checking in on the pitching market, both starters and relievers, as is the custom for contenders.
We'll find out whether or not the Braves will be able to better position themselves for a repeat soon enough.
NEW YORK -- With a virtual handshake, the Mets on Monday announced themselves not just as major contenders for the upcoming season, but perhaps in perpetuity. Taking the sort of bold stroke they rarely have in recent decades, the Mets agreed in principle Monday to a three-year, $130 million contract with three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, according to multiple sources.
The deal, which the Mets have not confirmed because it is not yet official, includes an opt-out after two years. More importantly, it teams Scherzer atop the Mets’ rotation with two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom, forming one of the most accomplished pitching tandems in Major League history. From a wider lens, it signifies the Mets’ continued push to become one of Major League Baseball’s model franchises, capable of landing any free agent at any time.
Already this offseason, the Mets have handed out $254.5 million in guaranteed contracts, including an MLB-record $45.3 million average annual value for Scherzer, giving the Mets the highest payroll in the Majors by a significant margin. The team has not led baseball in payroll since 1989, when they did so with a $21.3 million Opening Day figure -- or a little less than Scherzer will make before the All-Star break.
Cohen, however, is not after payroll aggrandizement for the sake of spending money. He intends to compete for World Series titles as soon as 2021 and, with Scherzer in house, the Mets have a far better chance to do so than they did a week ago.
Scherzer is coming off a season that saw him go 15-4 with a 2.46 ERA for the Nationals and Dodgers, missing time due to groin and biceps injuries -- as well as Game 6 of the National League Championship Series due to arm fatigue -- but performing at an elite level when healthy. Overall, Scherzer is 190-97 with a 3.16 ERA in his career for the D-backs, Tigers, Nats and Dodgers.
Although he is 37 years old with back and shoulder issues on his recent medical reports, Scherzer has showed only mild signs of slowing. He has won more games with a lower ERA in his 30s than he did in his 20s, while his 2,536 2/3 career innings rank fourth among active pitchers behind only Zack Greinke, Justin Verlander and Jon Lester. Adding another 128 2/3 innings in the postseason, Scherzer has compiled a 3.22 October ERA, including a 2.31 mark since 2019. Over that stretch, his teams have won eight of the 10 playoff games in which he’s pitched.
Given that sort of resume, even a diminished Scherzer would help the Mets -- particularly considering the questions surrounding deGrom, Carlos Carrasco and other incumbent starters. There is also the simple matter that a Scherzer acquisition would prevent the Mets from having to face him. In 26 career outings against his new team, Scherzer is 14-5 with a 2.68 ERA -- numbers that include a 10-2 record and 2.14 ERA at pitcher-friendly Citi Field.
Get the Latest From MLB
Sign up to receive our daily Morning Lineup to stay in the know about the latest trending topics around Major League Baseball.
In many ways, Scherzer was the top starting pitcher available on the free-agent market. The Mets considered acquiring him at the 2021 Trade Deadline, but he preferred a deal to the West Coast, sources said at the time, leading many within the industry to believe the same would be true in free agency. But by all accounts, Mets officials believed they had a real shot at Scherzer as of late Sunday night -- a notion that became more critical when Kevin Gausman, another Mets target, reportedly signed with the Blue Jays on a five-year, $110 million deal.
Monday, the Mets worked out final details with Scherzer’s camp, quickly finalizing a contract that should fuel Cohen’s vision of making the Mets a perennial NL East contender as soon as the coming season. Over the past week, the Mets have agreed to multi-year deals with Scherzer, outfielders Starling Marte and Mark Canha, and infielder Eduardo Escobar, remaking their roster coming off a third-place finish in the NL East. The moves should bring the Mets’ payroll well above $240 million, launching them above the Dodgers, Yankees and all other free-spending, big-market teams.
Work still remains for the Mets, who could continue to bolster their rotation while also searching for upgrades in the bullpen and perhaps the infield. Even if they do nothing else outside of naming a manager, the Mets will have transformed their roster and likely also their clubhouse culture, given Scherzer’s reputation as one of the game’s most well-respected veterans.
More than that, the Mets have already announced their intentions to do whatever is necessary to win. A disappointing first year of Cohen’s ownership has led to a frenetic first full offseason under his stewardship, with little indication that MLB’s richest owner plans to stop anytime soon.
What’s next after Scherzer may remain a mystery, but it’s obvious that something, for the Mets, will indeed be next.
Did you like this story?In this story: