Shohei Ohtani is one of the brightest stars across the entire MLB. The reigning AL MVP is a generational talent who excels both at the plate and on the pitchers’ mound. There has been no player in modern baseball that has combined the elite pitching and hitting along with the other tools Ohtani has in his game. In 2021, the Japanese standout had a 3.18 ERA and went 9-2 on the mound. He also knocked in 46 home runs, 100 RBIs, and led the MLB in triples. This strong play has continued this season as Ohtani finds himself in the Cy Young conversation while earning the starting DH position in the All-Star game.
Despite having two of the most talented players in the MLB, Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, the Angles have failed to find any significant team success. The injury to Trout and overall grim future outlook has made the organization consider giving up its generational talent. Shohei Ohtani is still 28 years old and in the prime of his career. He certainly can fetch a haul of prospects and players that could potentially put the organization in a better position to succeed in the long run. The Angels are rumored to be in search of the top four prospects from an opposing organization’s farm system in exchange for the star.
One team that has continually shown up in trade rumors has been the Saint Louis Cardinals. The franchise currently has a record of 54-48 and sits in second place in the NL Central. This type of trade would elevate the franchise from fringe playoff contenders to legitimate World Series threats and they may have the assets to make a deal come together.
Through his first 50 career starts as a pitcher and 500 games as a hitter, Shohei Ohtani has:
-More strikeouts than Jacob deGrom
-Lower ERA than Gerrit Cole
-More home runs than Ted Williams
-More RBI than Ken Griffey Jr. pic.twitter.com/W2cXqkMdyv
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) July 25, 2022
The best trade package Cardinals must offer Angels for Shohei Ohtani
Angels Get: Jordan Walker (3B), Matthew Liberatore (LHP), Joshua Baez (OF), Tink Hence (RHP), Packy Naughton (LHP)
Cardinals Get: Shohei Ohtani
It is unclear exactly what the value of Shohei Ohtani will be but it is certain to be steep. He is a franchise-altering talent and one of the true superstars of this generation. This is a haul of players to give up but is absolutely worth it when considering the impact the addition of Ohtani would make.
The main piece in the deal is Jordan Walker who is considered the top prospect in the Cardinals system and is regarded highly around the MLB. The third-baseman stands 6’5″ and has elite exit velocity at the plate. His exit velocity mirrors names like Juan Soto and Fernando Tatis which is great company to be in. Walker has also drawn praise for his defensive instincts and arm strength at third base. He is still just 20 years old and would certainly be a needle mover in this deal.
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Matthew Liberatore is considered the second-ranked prospect in the Saint Louis farm system. The 6’4″ lefty is an innings eater on the mound who has an impressive curveball and slider. He has a very low walk rate and attacks the strike zone in an aggressive fashion. Tink Hence is also an intriguing pitching prospect although is not as far in his developmental process. The 19-year-old has not gotten a ton of opportunity within the Cardinals system but has a strong fastball and uses his curveball as his go-to pitch. He is considered the number 9 prospect on MLB.com.
The Cardinals have a number of intriguing outfield prospects in their system. This should make them more willing to include Joshua Baez in the deal. The 19-year-old is still several years from being MLB ready but has the tools that make MLB teams salivate. He has ridiculous raw power and a cannon of an arm. Baez has primarily played center field and moves well on the base path as well. The 19-year-old still has a ways to go in his development but is considered the number six prospect in the Cardinals system. Packy Naughton has had some recent struggles with the Cardinals but is still fairly young and possesses a great deal of potential. Getting an immediate impact piece who can play a role in the Angeles would help smooth the deal although the lefty has already spent time in the Angels organization.
While this is certainly a great deal of talent to give up, there are few players who are the caliber of Shohei Ohtani. Teams around the MLB are certainly lining up to send their best offers for the superstar and the Cardinals should be no different. Adding Ohtani to the lineup alongside Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado and in the rotation alongside Miles Mikolas and Adam Wainwright would immediately change the trajectory of the team.
There is an argument against emptying the farm system, but Ohtani is such a rare caliber of player that it would be a risk worth taking. The reality is none of these prospects likely have the ceiling of what Ohtani has proven to be. Making this type of blockbuster deal would change the Cardinals for the better and they should be doing everything possible to make it happen.