Shohei Ohtani trade would help the Rays now, but could put their future in limbo

With rumors heating up in the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes, the Rays have a lot they should consider before pulling the trigger.
New York Yankees v Los Angeles Angels
New York Yankees v Los Angeles Angels / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

As we move closer to the trade deadline on Aug.1, the big name who could be on the move is the Angels' Shohei Ohtani. With growing interest in what his future could hold, the Rays appear to be one of many teams sniffing around at the idea of adding the league's best player. There is no doubt that the two-way Japanese superstar would be a massive addition to the team, but the price it would take to get him might be a significant deterrent.

Shohei Ohtani, 29, leads the league in home runs (35), slugging percentage (.678), and OPS (1.075) and is near the top of the league in several other offensive categories. On the mound, Ohtani is 7-5 with a 3.50 ERA and 139 strikeouts. As of July 20, the Angels sit at 49-48, nine games out of first in the AL West and five games out of a Wild Card spot. Their recent hot streak has kept them close enough to the postseason that they might opt to keep him, but the idea of possibly losing him for nothing during free agency could cause them to pull the trigger on a trade.

The mock trades to land Shohei Ohtani seem to change daily, but the experts hypothesize that the Rays will have to give up a hefty package. At the forefront of their efforts would likely be one of their two top prospects at third base, Junior Caminero and Curtis Mead. Caminero, 20, is the team's top prospect and the 14th-best in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline. He's been mashing the ball this season, currently in Double-A Montgomery. Mead, 22, is the third-ranked prospect in the organization and 32nd in the league. During his time in Triple-A Durham, he's hitting .314 and has been on fire since returning from injury.

The package wouldn't stop there as it would likely take several other top prospects to get the deal done, and maybe even a player that has already seen some time in the big leagues. Not only would that put the entire farm system in play. It could also mean guys like Vidal Brujan and Josh Lowe could potentially have their names come up in conversations to get the deal done.

Shohei Ohtani increases Rays' World Series chance at a cost

Obviously, adding a talent like Ohtani could do wonders for the team's chances of winning its first World Series. The Rays are in desperate need of a starting pitcher, and being able to add a dynamic bat to an already strong lineup all with one player would be huge. There is no shortage of power on this Rays team, and, assuming he continues to play at this level, Ohtani makes a strong team even stronger.

The problem with the thought of this trade is that it's putting the team's future in limbo for something that isn't guaranteed to work. The Rays would be getting two months and a postseason run with no chance of re-signing Ohtani, given the size of the contract he's due to get as the league's best player when he hits free agency in the fall. All trades come with this risk. However, a deal of this magnitude means the Rays must get it right. If they don't win the World Series, it's all for not. Giving up several players that project to be solid big leaguers might not make this a worthwhile idea.

If the Rays decide to pursue a trade and they end up getting Shohei Ohtani, it has the potential to be the biggest move in franchise history. Still, there are plenty of other players for the Rays to go after to make this team a World Series contender. The Rays need to proceed with caution and consider whether this rental is worth altering the franchise's future, even if the prize is as tempting as Shohei Ohtani.