Despite the fact that the Los Angeles Angels will soon have to make a decision regarding starting pitcher and designated hitter Shohei Ohtani's future with the organization, there is no inkling that he will be traded any time soon.
According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, "Nobody expects the best player in baseball to move in the next week."
At 41-56, the Angels seem ticketed for another year out of the playoffs. However, Passan reported that several factors would make trading Ohtani before the Aug. 2 trade deadline a "near impossibility."
The 28-year-old Ohtani is coming off a banner season in 2021 that saw him hit .257 with 46 home runs and 100 RBI, in addition to going 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA and 156 strikeouts over 130.1 innings as a pitcher.
Those numbers netted the Japanese superstar his first All-Star selection, a Silver Slugger Award and the American League MVP Award.
By some measures, Ohtani has been even better this season, especially when it comes to his pitching performances.
Ohtani remains a dangerous hitter with a .256 average, 21 homers and 58 RBI, and he has pitched like a true ace with a 9-5 record, career-low 2.80 ERA and 134 strikeouts in 93.1 innings.
There isn't another player in baseball who can even come close to doing the things Ohtani does, and given that plus his star power, he would undoubtedly command a huge return in a potential trade.
While that trade isn't imminent, Passan theorized that it could happen as soon as the offseason.
Ohtani is an incredible bargain this season at just $5.5 million, and he is arbitration eligible next season, meaning he should receive a sizable bump. After that, Ohtani is eligible to become a free agent in 2024.
Passan noted that while the Angels could re-sign Ohtani, he stands to command a contract that would pay him more than $60 million per year, which may be too much of a commitment for an Angels organization that already pays Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon over $70 million combined per season.
The Angels haven't reached the playoffs since 2014, and trading Ohtani would perhaps be an admission that they aren't ready to make a playoff run any time soon.
It would also possibly call into question Trout's future with the organization since they would likely be entering a rebuilding phase.
Trading away a superstar like Ohtani would almost certainly lead to a significant dip in fan interest, but given how much the Angels would likely receive in return, it is an option worth considering during the offseason.