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With only eight days to go until Major League Baseball's trade deadline, it's fair to write that all eyes are on the Los Angeles Angels and two-way star Shohei Ohtani. The Angels, having slid further from playoff contention since losing star outfielder Mike Trout to injury, will soon have to make a call on whether or not they're trading Ohtani, an impending free agent who seems likely to leave the franchise for a greener pasture one way or another in the coming months. 

The calculus appears simple: do the Angels prefer to hold onto Ohtani, make as much as a run as they can muster, and then hope that inertia proves to be an irresistible force; or, do they make the sober evaluation that it's better for the franchise to take the best trade package rather than end up with draft-pick compensation? Owner Arte Moreno has reportedly squashed previous trade talks, not wanting to become known for trading the world's best player. 

While Moreno and the Angels weigh their options, it's important to remember the strength of Ohtani's gravitational pull. His looming availability, either this summer or winter, almost certainly impacted how teams behaved last offseason, and it's guaranteed to shape how suitors will approach the deadline. For an idea of how much a single player can affect the rest of the league, consider these three potential consequences of Ohtani's deadline availability.

1. Potential sellers not selling?

Ohtani has time and again expressed his desire to win a World Series title. That aspiration is the main reason it's become fashionable to bet against the Angels retaining his services -- bear in mind, they haven't been able to reach the postseason while paying him well beneath his market value, so how will they build around him when he becomes the sport's highest-paid player? 

It's an unexpected and perhaps unfortunate wrinkle, then, that several of his presumed future suitors are experiencing disappointing seasons. Indeed, if the postseason started tomorrow, the New York Mets, New York Yankees, and San Diego Padres would all be on the sidelines. (The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants probably would not fret such an outcome, mind you.) 

The rub for those underperforming teams -- specifically the Mets and the Padres -- is that they might feel restricted in how much they can sell this deadline. After all, they wouldn't want to give the appearance to Ohtani, by virtue of trading away some of their top veterans, that they're not serious about and/or in a position to compete next season -- not when doing so might end up costing them a real chance at landing him this winter.

2. Could Trout move next?

If and when Ohtani leaves, be it at the deadline or this winter, the Angels will have to ask another tough question: is it time to move on from Mike Trout? 

The Angels would presumably answer "heck no," in part since Moreno would not want to become the owner who lost Ohtani and Trout in a matter of months -- not to mention the obvious negative impacts a deal would have on the brand and the fan base. It does make for an interesting thought experiment, however.

For as incredible as Trout has been throughout his career, there are reasons to wonder about what, exactly, waits ahead for him. He's nearing his 32nd birthday; he's owed nearly $250 million more after this season; and he's become prone to missing large chunks of the schedule -- he last appeared in more than 140 games in 2018 (though he did play in 53 of 60 games in 2020). 

There are some slight performance-related concerns to note as well, for as absurd as that sounds given Trout's consistently brilliant nature. His 134 OPS+ this year would represent the lowest full-season mark of his career, and his swing-and-miss tendencies have worsened in recent campaigns, swelling to around 30% the past two seasons (the league-average rate is around 25%).

If you're of a certain mindset, you may look at the above developments -- plus the Angels' competitive and payroll states without Ohtani -- and wonder if it's worth looking for an off ramp. We're very skeptical the Angels will do so (even a "diminished" Trout -- if he can be called that at this stage -- has remained more productive than all but 15 of his peers), and that's perfectly fine, too. In our estimation, it's better for the game if teams are not always managed in a ruthlessly efficient way, especially when it comes to living legends like Trout.

3. Will award races be impacted?

Obviously this subhead applies only if Ohtani is traded to a National League team, but there is a chance both Most Valuable Player Award races could be altered if he's moved at the deadline.

While it's safe to identify Ohtani as the current frontrunner for the AL MVP Award (Caesars Sportsbook lists him as a -950 favorite), that won't remain the case if he changes leagues. Voters have historically docked players who were traded to the other league, no matter how well they performed during their time on the relevant circuit. 

For reference, consider that Mark McGwire homered 34 times and posted a 163 OPS+ in 105 games as a member of the 1997 Oakland Athletics. He was then traded to the St. Louis Cardinals, with whom he launched another 24 home runs in 51 contests. Not only did McGwire get shut out of the vote for AL MVP, he finished a meager 16th in balloting for NL MVP. That's a tough break.

Alternatively, CC Sabathia was traded from the AL to the NL in 2008. He pitched so well over 17 outings with the Milwaukee Brewers that he finished fifth in Cy Young and sixth in MVP voting for the NL. He did not receive any consideration on the AL side of the ledger.

We do feel obligated to point out that there is one data point suggesting Ohtani could lasso a piece of NL hardware. In 1984, Rick Sutcliffe was traded from the AL's Cleveland franchise to the NL's Chicago Cubs midseason. He ended up winning the Cy Young Award on the strength of 20 fantastic starts. 

Ohtani making a similar run to winning the NL MVP Award seems highly improbable with how brilliantly Ronald Acuña Jr., Mookie Betts, and other season-long NL members have played. But, then, we suppose Ohtani has made a habit of prevailing in the face of impossible odds. What's one more?