Shohei Ohtani’s value in trade or free agency is a complex issue

Athletics received four Braves prospects last offseason for Matt Olsonpointed out by Shea Langeliers, one of the best throwable receivers in the minors.

The reds received a four-prospect Friday package from the Mariners for Luis Castilloincluding one of the best in the game, shortstop Noelvi Marte.

So what should the angels receive if they swallow hard (100 times) and actually swap Shohei Ohtani?

Because Ohtani hits a lot like Olson. Ohtani started the weekend with a .254/.349/.486 slant line, 21 home runs and a 134-plus OPS in 413 plate appearances. Olson was .252/.339/.499 with 20 home runs and a 128-plus OPS in 439 plate appearances. They were also similar in 2021.

Olson earns points for playing first base while Ohtani is a designated hitter. But Ohtani has 37 steals and 10 triples since the start of last year while Olson has four steals and zero triples.

Oh yes, Ohtani also looks like Castillo, just like a pitcher. In 17 starts in 2022, Ohtani had a 2.81 ERA (142 ERA-plus), slant line against .210/.256/.347, and struck out 36.4 percent of batters faced. In 14 starts, Castillo had a 2.86 ERA (160 ERA-plus), slant line against .201/.274/.319, and struck out 25.8 percent of batters faced. Castillo’s track record for throwing full seasons is considerably stronger and longer than Ohtani’s.

Shohei Ohtani is slashing .251/.345/.481 this season.
Shohei Ohtani is slashing .251/.345/.481 this season.
News Kyodo/Sipa USA

Still, Ohtani could basically throw first in any rotation and bat second in any formation — and he’s a person.

So what are you giving up for this person? What would the angels deem acceptable in a comeback for arguably the most unique player of all time? Especially since Ohtani could also be the most marketable player in the game.

This is part of the Ohtani dilemma. How to play with him. How to pay it. How to redeem it. He is a human being posing multiple enigmas. For the Angels. For industry. Probably one day in free agency.

As The Post first reported on Thursday, the The angels had begun to listen to commercial requests about Ohtani. And that makes sense. On May 15, the Angels were 24-13 and had the third-best record among the majors, behind the Yankees and Astros. Since then (through Friday), the Angels have been the worst in the major league 18-44. Anthony Rendon had been lost for the season. Mike Trout was recently diagnosed with a rare back pain that threatens the rest of his season – and possibly more than that.

Ohtani hasn’t committed to sticking with a franchise that will have made the playoffs once (in 2014) in 13 seasons with no sign that they have nearly enough talent to change that anytime soon. And Ohtani can be a free agent after next season.

So, he’s just the type of player (in theory) that this type of franchise maximizes in a commercial market hungry for both his arm and his bat. But the fact that arm, southpaw power and fan appeal are all rolled into one player complicates that — and that would even be for a well-run organization, a category the Angels don’t fall into.

Teams that have dealt with Angels general manager Perry Minasian are testing the market to see what’s plausible, but that no feedback will entice owner Arte Moreno to trade Ohtani. Moreno has shown a penchant for buying expensive and shiny toys whether or not it makes sense on the age curve. Think, one disaster after another named Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols and Rendon. Will he really walk away from Ohtani’s brightest toy? Will he really accept the fan outrage that would come with this choice?

Shohei Ohtani has a 2.81 ERA with 145 strikeouts and 23 walks in 99 1/3 innings so far this season.
Shohei Ohtani has a 2.81 ERA with 145 strikeouts and 23 walks in 99 1/3 innings so far this season.
Getty Images

Maybe a team like the Padres would be so willing to put so many high-end prospects and controllable young players into a trade that even Moreno wouldn’t avoid it. What, for example, would the Yankees do to have a version of Babe Ruth II? Or the Mets to reunite Ohtani with the GM who brought him to Southern California, when Billy Eppler was the GM of the Angels?

But there is significant doubt that such an offer can be assembled or accepted, especially when the Angels can just find the facts now and revisit a trade either in the offseason or next July, before free agency. Ohtani.

An executive suggested that with Rendon and Trout down, Moreno wouldn’t want to give up his last marketable player, Ohtani, this season. But Rendon and Trout being down should actually motivate a smart organization to move Ohtani.

Rendon barely came to the Angels with a solid reputation as a hard worker, and now his seasons at 31 and 32 have been injury-ridden and disappointing. Do you envisage that the next four years will bring a great renewal?

Sadly, it’s the second consecutive injury-filled year for Trout, who turns 31 next week. Trout played down a concerning report from Angels head coach Mike Frostad that the outfielder should manage his rare back condition not just this year, but for the rest of his career.

But consider that if the Angels made Rendon available for nothing more than another team’s willingness to pick up the $152 million four years owed to him from 2023-2026, I don’t think a club would do that. And I’m not sure any club would now take on the eight-year $283.6 million Trout is owed after this season. That’s $435.6 million in guaranteed dough left over for a highly questionable duo. This is $73.45 million for each of the next four years, until Rendon’s pact expires.

So even if Ohtani wanted to stay, how do you begin to assess the right free agent value for a combination of someone who can hit like Matt Olson and throw like Luis Castillo? Is it $40 million a year? Fifty? After?

Even at $40 million, that’s $113.45 million the Angels would shell out each year for just three players — two already with huge question marks — before tackling the rest of a roster requiring many upgrades for an owner who has shown no desire to exceed the luxury tax.

And Ohtani is risky. He has already needed Tommy John surgery. If he still needed it, it would also take him out of his batting position for at least a year and maybe just make him a hitter after that (but maybe an outfielder as well). Can the Angels of Rendon, Trout and so few other assets really take that gamble?

Can any team? Some will. But how do you rate that? In the trade market now, in the free agent market eventually and when it all comes down to such a marketable player as well.

This is all part of Ohtani’s dilemma. No major leaguer has ever hit and pitched simultaneously to this degree and success. It is equally unique to determine how to value this in each market.

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