Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Despite being a father in his mid-to-late 30s, I still enjoy playing video games to wind down at the end of the night. And this includes many hours of “MLB The Show 23.”

This morning got me thinking on the matter. I currently have a Yankees franchise with the team in first place, unlike the real life Bronx Bombers. I’ve made various trades and improvements here and there, namely dumping Josh Donaldson on the Marlins for minor league depth, but I digress.

Given the Yankees just lost another series, this time to the Angels, what if they traded for Shohei Ohtani in the game?

On process alone, it’s not a difficult task. “MLB The Show” makes trade negotiations mostly about money and only a little bit of talent. This provided a simple jumping-off point for my Yankees franchise. Acquire Ohtani, but also dump enough salary and talent so the Angels aren’t fleeced.

And so the deal’s foundation was easy to build: Giancarlo Stanton and his 25 home runs in late June along with Nestor Cortes, humming along with a mid-3s ERA. It was at this point that things got tricky. A deal with the Angels was close, not there yet, and the game only allows the user to trade three players at a time.

Thus, it was time to get creative. Who would satisfy the Angels as the third piece?

Franchy Cordero and his lefty bat off the bench? No dice.

What about a high-leverage reliever like Tommy Kahnle or Michael King? Negative.

Anthony Volpe or Oswald Peraza? Next.

Trading Harrison Bader to the Cubs for Cody Bellinger, and then trying to include Bellinger in the package with Stanton and Cortes? Thanks, but no thanks.

The only players the Angels accept with those two for Ohtani? Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodon, or Aaron Judge. And cue me exiting Franchise Mode without saving changes.

It’s truly amazing. The Angels seem determined to keep Ohtani for the entire season and are in denial that he’ll leave in free agency. And yet, the speculation over his future continues. As we’ve said several times before, the Yankees are a highly unlikely destination.

And if, of all things, a video game won’t trade Ohtani for a perfectly reasonable return? Perhaps we underestimate the Angels’ stubbornness.

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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.