The MLB trade deadline looms ever closer, and with that we have seen speculation on potential destinations for a Shohei Ohtani trade. As one of the best players, if not the best in all of baseball, he has drawn interest from many teams and the media.
"If Boston wants to hold the line on Mayer, it’ll have to dip deeply into that newly improved [farm] system, something the Red Sox are likely to be unwilling to do for only a few months of Ohtani. The alternative, however, might be even harder to swallow -- giving up high performers at the MLB level. "- Molly Burkhardt
Would the Red Sox trading Marcelo Mayer for Shohei Ohtani make sense?
A one-for-one swap to get one of the elite talents in baseball sounds too good to be true on paper, which this somewhat is. In terms of how it looks for the Angels, it does make sense if they believe they cannot retain Ohtani and are going toward a re-tooling phase of sorts. Getting back a premier top-five prospect in all of baseball is great value for essentially six weeks of elite baseball (not including playoffs).
While it is not a haul of many prospects that would completely re-outfit their whole system, it gives them a big name who can come in by 2024 and be another franchise-defining player presumably.
In terms of Boston's point of view, it makes for an intriguing debate. The first question to come of this would be how do you format the roster? Presuming Jarren Duran is not part of the deal, you now have an outfield logjam of Masataka Yoshida, Jarren Duran, Alex Verdugo, and Ohtani. Obviously, one would rotate to DH some nights, and with Ohtani's versatility as a pitcher, he would go there some nights. So, hypothetically, it does make some sense roster-wise.
A chief set of questions to answer: Does giving up Mayer set you back further, and is it worth it if you cannot get a long-term deal done with Ohtani? Ohtani only has the remainder of 2023 on his contract, so he will be a free agent after this season. If a team were to trade for him, you would hope they would have an extension in place before the trade is completed to get the full value out of the deal.
Mayer has risen through the ranks exceptionally fast for the Red Sox farm system, and is on track to, at the latest, make his MLB debut in mid-2024 or so. As a shortstop he is an exceptional talent at a position of need. Even with Trevor Story returning you would assume he moves to second base. However, with how good Mayer is, you also have a ton of strong talent in the system already as Burkhardt mentioned. Roman Anthony is looking to be one of the most promising prospects in the system, who could be a top-level talent in a few years.
This deal would all hinge on Ohtani signing a new extension with Boston very quickly after the trade. Giving up Mayer for an expiring contract of Ohtani is not worth it, as Mayer is worth a ton of value long term. However, if a deal could get done with Shohei and he remains in Boston for a long period of time, then you would really start to consider this trade.
For ownership, it makes a ton of sense, as you bring Ohtani into a strong Japanese market in Boston, and reunite him with his teammate from the World Baseball Classic, Masataka Yoshida. The jersey sales alone would earn an exceptional amount of money, and Ohtani is a likable figure in sports who has shown himself to be among the best players we have ever seen.
This will all pivot on if the Angels are ready to move on, and if Boston is seriously ready to start making all-in moves. With Shohei only being 28 years old, he has a long career ahead of him seemingly. So buying into that now, even at the expense of a franchise prospect, could be worth it to open a World Series window sooner rather than later.