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There Is No Fair Value For Shohei Ohtani

Anaheim, CA - June 20: Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the sixth inning of a baseball game at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Tuesday, June 20, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)
Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

It may only be a response to the way Shohei Ohtani has ruined an entire summer's speculation about who will win the AL MVP, but Los Angeles Angels general manager Perry Minasian declared before Tuesday's loss to the Dodgers that he doesn't plan to trade Ohtani.

It's just that his explanation doesn't convincingly track.

“I think anybody who has watched us play or looked where we’re at in the standings, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we like him and we hope he’s here a long time,” is what he actually said. “It’s pretty self-explanatory with where we’re at.”

What Minasian could have said with far greater justification is any of the following:

"We're not trading him because I'm not an idiot."

"We're not trading him because I like my job and I fear my boss."

"We're not trading him because I don't want to be the guy who goes down in history the way Harry Frazee did for trading Babe Ruth from the Red Sox to the Yankees a hundred years ago."

"We're not trading him because his agent hasn't yet asked for a year-to-year deal at $600 million per year."

Or:

"We're not trading him because Brian Cashman has not seized my family and is using Ohtani as a ransom demand."

Any of the above would be sufficient on its face. "Our place in the standings" is not in and of itself the correct reason. It's a good one—the Angels are clinging to a wild card spot—but given Ohtani's season in which he is not unlikely to win an MVP/Cy Young double, it's hardly a standalone.

Ohtani has rendered even the debate atom-smashingly moot. He is so obviously the MVP that he can only lose the award by quitting to live in the woods, demanding a trade back to Japan, entering the priesthood, or getting caught betting the Angels to lose, and maybe not even then. The other candidates—Tampa’s Wander Franco, maybe, or Toronto's Bo Bichette or Chicago's Luis Robert—really aren't. Hell, if Luis Arraez doesn't hit .400, Ohtani might win the NL MVP as well.

And the Cy Young? You might get some support for Tampa's Shane McClanahan, but you'd first have to tell some voters who McClanahan is. No, this is Ohtani's year, and it's such a year that the year isn't even half over and it's still his year. Next year might be his year based on excess from this year. He might even win Executive of the Year for convincing Minasian not to trade him.

So Minasian explaining that Ohtani's situation is "self-explanatory with where we're at" and pegging it to the Angels only being five games behind Texas is, while charming, misleading. Ohtani's situation is that he's Ohtani, a unicorn a year ago and now a three-headed unicorn colored bright red with black racing stripes and three hearts and six lungs for increased speed and stamina. He is Bugs Bunny in the documentary Baseball Bugs, playing all nine positions and still beating the Gas-House Gorillas.

So trade him? In a world in which everything has a price (just ask the PGA), there is no return that justifies Ohtani. Not even Saudi Arabia itself.

OK, well, maybe Saudi Arabia. But you’d have to throw in some cash on the back end, plus a couple petrostates to be named later. After all, you build through the draft, but you only build Ohtanis in a lab.

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