NEW YORK – Shohei Ohtani is arguably the most talented baseball player of all time, and he might be traded within the next week.
One former New York Yankees pitching ace would trade Ohtani.
The MLB trade deadline is Aug. 1, and Ohtani’s Los Angeles Angels are likely to miss out on the postseason for a ninth consecutive season, leaving the organization with a difficult decision.
Ohtani, a pending free agent, has said he wants to start winning. Despite all his talent, the Angels have not done that. So, Ohtani could look to ink a deal elsewhere.
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Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels during All-Star weekend at T-Mobile Park July 10, 2023, in Seattle. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
The Angels could trade the first true two-way superstar in MLB history or risk losing him for nothing.
That’s why CC Sabathia says if he were running the show in Los Angeles, he’d pull the trigger.
“If I’m in the Angels’ position, not in the playoffs, I think I would trade him,” Sabathia told Fox News Digital at his PitCCHin Foundation softball game earlier this week.
“Try to get as much back as possible, especially if you think he’s gonna walk.”
Sabathia admitted he hasn’t watched a Yankee game in “over a month,” so he’s not entirely sure if his former squad is in on any potential sweepstakes for Ohtani.
Sabathia, a member of the 3,000-strikeout club, was once in Ohtani’s position in 2008. The big lefty was set to hit free agency and eventually signed with the Yankees for the largest contract ever given to a pitcher at the time.
A member of the Cleveland Indians at the time, he knew he was going to be traded because they were pretty much out of the race and wouldn’t re-sign him. So, he was sent to the Milwaukee Brewers, where his dominant late-season stretch propelled the Brewers to the postseason.
The Milwaukee Brewers’ CC Sabathia reacts after the final out to clinch a wild-card spot for the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park Sept. 28, 2008. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via Imagn Content Services, LLC)
The 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner was adamant throughout the 2022 season that Ohtani, not his former teammate Aaron Judge, should have been named the AL MVP. Sabathia even called Ohtani “the best baseball player I’ve ever seen” in 2020, over 18 months before Ohtani even won his first MVP Award.
“I keep saying this, and people always laugh at me when I say this, but he’s the best baseball player I’ve ever seen in my life,’’ Sabathia said at the time. “Are you kidding me? He can hit the ball 900 feet and throws 99 off the mound. Who else can do that? Nobody else is doing that at the big league level.”
Sabathia was right. People did laugh at him. Although, it may have been warranted at the time.
Special assistant to the Commissioner CC Sabathia, left, greets Shohei Ohtani of Team Japan during batting practice before a 2023 World Baseball Classic semifinal game between Team Mexico and Team Japan at LoanDepot Park March 20, 2023, in Miami, Fla. (Daniel Shirey/WBCI/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
At that point, Ohtani had the 2018 AL Rookie of the Year under his belt, but he didn’t even pitch in 2019 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. In his first two MLB seasons, Ohtani played in 210 games and hit .286 with a .884 OPS. In his 10 appearances on the mound in 2018, he pitched to a 3.31 ERA while striking out 11 batters per nine innings.
Another arm injury held Ohtani to just 1⅔ innings during the COVID-shortened 2020 season, but Ohtani has more than lived up to his billing as the “Japanese Babe Ruth.”
The Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani celebrates as he rounds first base after hitting a two-run home run during the seventh inning of a game against the New York Yankees July 17, 2023, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
In 2021, he was the unanimous AL MVP with 46 homers — the third-most in baseball — and 100 RBIs with a .965 OPS. He also recorded a 3.18 ERA, which was the eighth-best mark among AL pitchers with at least 130 innings thrown.
Last year, his 2.33 ERA was the sixth-best in baseball, his 11.9 K/9 was the highest in the American League and his .875 OPS was the 10th-highest in the majors, proving that the previous year was no fluke. If it weren’t for Judge’s record-breaking 62 home run last season, Ohtani would have won the MVP again. Last season, he became the first player in MLB history to qualify for both the batting and ERA titles.
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A blister on his finger has hampered him in recent starts. Ohtani owns a 3.71 ERA this year, but he’s thrown to a 7.71 figure in his last three outings. However, he’s the best hitter in baseball this year.
Entering play Tuesday, his 36 home runs, .674 slugging percentage and 1.072 OPS led the majors, his 60 walks led the AL and his .302 batting average ranked ninth in baseball.
It took 61 years for Roger Maris’ AL record to go down, and just a year later, Ohtani is already threatening the new record holder in Judge. Ohtani was on pace for 58 home runs Tuesday.
Los Angeles Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani (17) pitching during a game against the Chicago White Sox played June 27, 2023, at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif. (John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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Despite Ohtani’s generational talent, the Angels are stuck in the middle of the AL West standings.
But Sabathia has a point. With Ohtani likely in the market for the first $500 million contract in MLB history, the return the Angels would get, even if he’s just a rental, could be astronomical.