Why trading Shohei Ohtani to San Diego is the best thing for the Padres, Angels and MLB

Before the August 1 MLB trade deadline strikes, Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno should trade designated hitter/starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani to the San Diego Padres. Here's how and why this is the trade that should go down.

Jul 21, 2023; Anaheim, California, USA;  Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani (17)
Jul 21, 2023; Anaheim, California, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani (17) / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
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It's a tough call these days as to what the biggest debate in Los Angeles is. Could it be where will Shohei Ohtani end up after the MLB trade deadline or whether Barbie or Oppenheimer will have the best summer? I'll leave the summer silver screen debate to the celluloid blogosphere and focus on Ohtani.

Ever since training camps broke in March, the biggest story in Major League Baseball has been everybody and their uncle, mother and cousin trying to guess if and where the Los Angeles Angels will trade Shohei Ohtani, the best all-around baseball player since Babe Ruth. For what it's worth, my New Yorker uncles and cousins hope he goes to the Yankees while my mother struggles to pronounce his name and chooses to focus more on her grandchildren. Yet, for the rest of us, it's a never-ending round and round discussion that the sports world will have to put up with for another week as the August 1 trade deadline hurdles towards us on the calendar.

So where oh where will arguably the biggest sports superstar on the planet be come August 2? Here's my answer and why its the best move for the Angels, the team he'll go to and the MLB as a whole.

On or before 6:00 pm on August 1, Angels owner Arte Moreno should trade designated hitter/starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani to the San Diego Padres. Here's how and why this is the trade that should go down.

The "how" of a Shohei Ohtani trade to the San Diego Padres

As most of us know (but it's fine if you don't), Shohei Ohtani signed just a one-year contract with L.A. after last season, which makes him a complete free agent this fall. He can sign with whatever team he wants. He can go back to Japan. He can move to the space station. He can do whatever he wants but, for the sake of this piece, let's say he's going to play a little more baseball here in North America (I got you, Toronto). It's widely projected that Ohtani's next contract will be 10-plus years for over $600 million, with some even speculating it could be close or hit $700 million. I'll give you a few moments to take that all in and catch your breaths. Maybe grab a glass of water and sit down. You ok? Good. I'll continue. It's very likely the Japanese superstar and first two-way All-Star in over 100 years will become baseball's first $50 million-per-season-man. So when combining money and talent how do you compensate?

The way the Padres would do it would involve signing and trading one and potentially two of their current stars with a prospect or two thrown in from both sides. Since Ohtani is both a solid starting pitcher and a great hitter who is currently on pace for at least 50 home runs, it only makes sense that L.A. would need a quality starting pitcher and good to very good bat in return. Both players coming from San Diego would also have to be guys with names big enough to fill the seats in Anaheim. Prospects are great and necessary, but is Arte Moreno really going to put up with a barren Angel Stadium for the last two months of this season and potentially all of next season waiting for maybe two of five top prospects to pan out? I don't think so.

In this deal, San Diego would trade two of their big stars (one of which they would likely lose anyway come November) in starting pitcher Blake Snell and slugger Juan Soto. Snell is mimicking his last contract year of 2018 when he was with the Rays by putting up solid numbers even though the wins aren't there, which is more a reflection of a lame first half for the San Diego offense than his ability to earn wins on the mound. The Padres have a pretty stacked pitching staff, most of whom are under contract for a few years. Soto is also looking for a big new contract after signing two one-year extensions with Washington and San Diego over the past few seasons to avoid arbitration.

Snell and Soto are likely in their last few months in "America's Finest City," so why not get something back in return and I think a guy like Ohtani should be sufficient (haha). I referenced prospects being a part of the deal and, although they're not always necessary in big deals, it feels like they're always thrown in so I'll do that here. Along with Ohtani, let's say Los Angeles throws a prospect like catcher Edgar Quero, a solid switch-hitting catcher who may not exactly be Logan O'Hoppe, but few are. I mentioned San Diego's lackluster offense which has improved over the past few weeks but the catcher position at the plate is weak at best. Gary Sanchez provided some surprising pop when the Padres first signed him after the Mets lost interest in him, but he's under the Mendoza line and not too many GMs are counting on catchers in their 30s to have a resurgence at the plate during the rest of their careers. For San Diego's part, they could throw in prospects like pitcher Jairo Iriarte who, at 21 years old, could be a late season call-up in 2024 and in the rotation in 2025 alongside Snell. Other deal add-ons from San Diego to Anaheim in the prospects department could include one of their many catching prospects like Brandon Valenzuela or even first base prospect Nathan Martorella. A majority of San Diego's top prospects are pitchers so, outside of the catcher position, their farm system is a bit thin. Therefore, it's more likely the Padres would send an additional pitching prospect or two to Anaheim. and maybe seek a second or third tier hitting prospect from the Angels.