shohei ohtani angels yankees
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Are the Yankees actually interested in Angels two-way Japanese superstar and former MVP Shohei Ohtani? They’re certainly implying as such even with the star player’s clear West Coast bias. The crosstown rival Mets have also expressed serious interest in signing Ohtani as a free agent in the offseason, maybe even sooner if he’s available in a trade.

Except if one were to ask the Angels, that’s not happening. Jon Heyman of the New York Post spoke to someone in the organization who said there’s “no chance” Ohtani is traded. It doesn’t matter if Los Angeles is in first place or last. He’s not going anywhere.

It makes sense as to why the Angels would feel this way. Los Angeles is 9-10 but tied with the Astros for second in the AL West. They trail the Rangers by just 3.5 games. The Angels’ young roster has also played hard for manager Phil Nevin. Of course they won’t trade Ohtani if the team is seriously contending for at least a Wild Card in July.

Except much like last year when they started 27-17 before collapsing and finishing third, the Angels are overachieving. The Astros are still a better team even without Justin Verlander and the standings should level out soon. That means that come the summer, Los Angeles general manager Perry Minasian could seek to shed Ohtani’s $30 million salary.

The problem is by this point, few teams will be willing to break the bank to trade for Shohei Ohtani. Especially as a rental. Why potentially gut a farm system only for him to sign somewhere else in free agency? Thus, any team potentially trading for Ohtani should also have his next contract ready for him to sign.

Enter the Yankees, specifically veteran general manager Brian Cashman. Does New York need Ohtani? Not really, particularly his pitching. Gerrit Cole and Carlos Rodon are both on long-term contracts. Luis Severino is a fellow upcoming free agent who wants to stay and Nestor Cortes is entering extension territory.

That leaves a slot open, but someone like Jhony Brito has impressed early and could earn it. Remember that even on a star-studded team, young and controllable arms are still most valuable.

But this is still Shohei Ohtani. If there’s a chance to trade for him and then ink him long-term, every team should jump at it. Cashman’s greatest strength is his shrewd negotiating skills. How quickly we forget he acquired Sonny Gray from the Oakland A’s for three prospects, two of whom were out with season-ending injuries.

Not only can he acquire Ohtani, but probably at a ridiculous discount.

Let’s backtrack a bit. No matter what the Angels say, they’ll try and trade Ohtani if they’re out of the playoff race by the summer. This isn’t to say they’ll be Oakland A’s levels of bad, but even so. Los Angeles doesn’t look any more like a playoff team than it did last year.

This means that from Cashman’s perspective, neither Minasian nor Moreno is in any position to make demands. No top prospect in the game today will make the Angels an immediate contender. They might boost attendance if they have the name recognition, but Jasson Dominguez is off the table today.

Instead, the Yankees will submit a different proposal to the Angels. Instead of immediate impact prospects, New York would offer a group of high-upside players who don’t really have a clear path to success in the Bronx but might elsewhere. They might even become stars on the Angels who, despite playing in the large LA market, are the Mets to the Dodgers’ Yankees.

Thus, the following deal sounds more than fair for both sides:

YANKEES RECEIVE: P/OF Shohei Ohtani, RP Jaime Barria, C Edgar Quero (Angels’ No. 3 prospect), RHP Caden Dana (No. 12), and RHP Nixon Encarnacion (No. 24)

ANGELS RECEIVE: SP Clarke Schmidt, RHP Deivi Garcia, OF Everson Pereira (Yankees’ No. 6 prospect), RHP Yoendrys Gomez (No. 11), OF Elijah Dunham (No. 18), and RHP Matt Sauer (No. 22)

Let’s dissect this from the top down. The Yankees get their two-way star in Ohtani and a solid bullpen arm in Barria, who’d already join an elite group of relievers. In Schmidt, the Angels get a potential starter who hasn’t found the right tools with the Yankees’ staff but might with another coach. Garcia is also in development limbo with New York and would have more stability out west.

Now, the Yankees’ prospects. Pereira is a center fielder with a plus arm preparing for a move to right, and his bat has 20-homer potential. Gomez’s health has been a problem, but he has a three-pitch mix and a fastball that touches 95.

Dunham is a lefty-swinging outfielder whose combination of speed and power makes him look like a meaner Brett Gardner, and Sauer has too many arms ahead of him.

The Angels’ youth isn’t terrible either, even as the farm system has fallen into shambles. The team doesn’t need the switch-hitting Quero thanks to top prospect Logan O’Hoppe debuting and succeeding. Dana is a big 19-year-old who’s already been compared to Noah Syndergaard and Encarnacion further restocks the farm system.

This trade isn’t a king’s ransom for Ohtani but still helps the Angels. Above all else, it gives the team solid young pieces it can build around and, in turn, not make Mike Trout’s mega-contract look bad.

The Yankees, meanwhile, get a star player and restock their farm with some much-needed pitching. Quero also provides catching insurance in case backstop prospect Austin Wells winds up changing positions. They also get to keep Brito for when teams eventually and inevitably start using six-man rotations.

And the rest of the Yankees’ logjam? Well, Aaron Hicks is this year’s Joey Gallo and will be traded for a minor league reliever. The Yankees will cover much of his remaining salary and maybe Josh Donaldson’s too if he’s moved. It’ll be dicey, but Giancarlo Stanton will have to get some outfield reps as Aaron Boone figures out some rotation. On the pitching side, maybe Frankie Montas becomes a long reliever when he’s done rehabbing from shoulder surgery.

That said, will the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Angels swing this exact trade for Shohei Ohtani? Probably not. No, make that almost definitely.

But if the Angels sell this summer and Cashman enters the chat, this might be a good starting point.

Follow ESNY on Twitter @elitesportsny.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.