The Houston Astros would love nothing more than to pursue Shohei Ohtani, the two-way phenom and presumptive American League MVP. Then again, who wouldn't? Ohtani is the hottest commodity in the sport of baseball right now, where everyone from fan to general manager is asking the same question, How can we afford him?
That is, of course, the potential half a billion dollar question, which is what is being assumed Ohtani will most likely be offered once he hits the free agent market come this offseason. But that's the offseason. Right now, we're talking about the present regular season, where there's still, in all likelihood, a team that could make the trade for the Japanese superstar as the MLB trade deadline approaches.
It goes back to the original question, though: How can we afford him?
Would the Astros trade for Shohei Ohtani?
Minus a few hidden cameras and garbage can incidents resulting in sign stealing, the Astros have been one of best run teams in baseball, from the front office to the field, for over half a decade now. The result has been two World Series titles.
In that time, they have been the darlings of the AL West. That is until the Texas Rangers all the sudden got serious and took the lead in the division this season. Though, the Astros are only two games back of the Rangers, Houston knows they have their work cut out for them with their division rival. The Rangers have the best overall offense in the MLB this season. So, would the Astros, in their hopes to return back to the World Series, make the unthinkable move and trade for Ohtani?
Astros' outfielder Kyle Tucker wouldn't mind that, although he'd probably prefer they wait until the offseason.
“Houston is a really good spot. I love playing there,” Tucker told Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. “We play indoors. Really good food. No income tax. We’ve got a really good team. That should speak for itself.”
If the Astros make a move at the trade deadline for Ohtani, it will be costly to the organizations future. The package would have to be armed with a combination of some of the top prospects in the Astros farm system, most likely the top four, as was a rumor at last year's deadline when Ohtani trade talks started.
Here's what the Astros could offer for Ohtani:
Hunter Brown, RHP
Hunter Brown, the centerpiece of this trade proposal, brings an arsenal of pitches that leave batters in awe. With a blazing fastball reaching 99 MPH and devastating secondary offerings, Brown has established himself as one of the top arms in the Astros' system. His ability to maintain velocity and improved command make him a prime candidate for a top-of-the-rotation role. The Astros' willingness to part ways with Brown would speak volumes about their determination to acquire Ohtani's unique skill set.
Yainer Diaz, C
Yainer Diaz, a bat-first catching prospect, adds offensive firepower to the trade package, which the Angels would need if they lost Ohtani. Diaz's consistent ability to hit for average and power has been on full display throughout his minor league career. With impressive numbers such as a .306 batting average, 25 home runs, and 96 RBI in 2022, Diaz has proven his potential to become a breakout rookie. His defensive skills and solid arm strength behind the plate further enhance his value as a future contributor.
Misael Tamarez, RHP
Misael Tamarez, a young flame-throwing right-hander, offers the Angels a glimpse of the future. Tamarez's heavy mid-90s fastball and deadly secondary pitches make him a formidable presence on the mound. With his frame and strong strikeout numbers, Tamarez possesses the tools to dominate opposing hitters. As an under-the-radar prospect, he represents a hidden gem with the potential to make a significant impact in the coming years. Angels need pitching, from their rotation to bullpen, so the Astros would have to move off their best arm.
Pedro Leon, OF
Pedro Leon, an exciting outfielder, rounds out the trade package with a blend of power and speed. Despite his lack of size, Leon consistently displays the ability to drive the ball to all fields, making him a potent offensive threat. His above-average arm strength and excellent baserunning speed provide a valuable combination of defensive versatility and offensive impact. Leon's potential to contribute in multiple positions adds to his overall value. The Angels may have tons of holes throughout their lineup for a while, so having a guy like Leon that could play multiple positions would be a good get for them.
Would it be worth it for the Astros if they got Shohei Ohtani?
The Astros arguably have the roster to make it to the World Series now, so sacrificing their future may not be the wisest move. However, in a league that's about winning championships, a trade would blast them off into another stratosphere.