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What is your best Ohtani trade for the Rays?

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The best player in baseball might be available at the trade deadline this year, but it’s a big maybe at the moment. There’s no question every team in the playoff hunt would greatly benefit from Shohei Ohtani, but as he’s in the last year of his contract there’s no guarantee he’ll stay with the club he’s moved to, just as there’s no guarantee the Angels would move him when they’d prefer to sign him to a contract extension.

The Rays should be in on Ohtani, they have a deep farm system and are one of baseball’s best teams with a need at starting pitcher... and who wouldn’t benefit from Ohtani’s bat!

Even though the odds favor the Dodgers or teams in New York, this morning the front page at ESPN had Ohtani trade ideas in print, and rightfully started with the Rays. Here’s the proposed trade from Alden Gonzalez, with a response by Jeff Passan acting as the Angels GM.

Proposed deal: RHP Shane Baz, 2B/3B Curtis Mead, 1B Xavier Isaac, RHP Marcus Johnson

An Ohtani trade wouldn’t constitute a rebuild for the Angels; they’d want to try to win again next season, and they’d be looking to add players who are (1) controllable for several years and (2) ready to contribute in 2024. That’s why this is the perfect package.

Baz has the ability to become one of the most dominant pitchers on the planet, and he should be fully recovered from Tommy John surgery for the start of 2024. Mead, No. 34 on Kiley McDaniel’s latest prospect rankings, boasts a nice combination of contact ability and power and can be the everyday second baseman next season, plus he provides insurance for an injury-prone Anthony Rendon at third base.

This is an aggressive package, especially when you consider the lower-level, higher-ceiling guys tacked on. But the Rays are a championship-caliber team that could use a boost and would never have a chance at a superstar player like this if not for the trade market. Who knows — maybe Ohtani, who has taken to analytics since working out at Driveline three winters ago, falls in love with the infrastructure in Tampa, and the Rays, trying to finalize a new stadium in the area, do the impossible and sign him long term. Wilder things have happened. For now, though, Ohtani for the rest of this season alone would place them head and shoulders above everybody else. — Alden Gonzalez

GM Jeff says ... If Junior Caminero isn’t in this deal, I’m hanging up. As good as Baz could be, as well as Mead has hit, as much as Isaac’s numbers show he wasn’t an overdraft, as gaudy as Johnson’s strikeout to walk ratio may be (74-to-6), I need a no-doubt carrying piece. Caminero’s rocketing stock — .330/.386/.588 between High-A and Double-A as a just-turned-20-year-old — and his ability to play both positions on the left side of the infield make him a must in any trade. If not him, at least give me Carson Williams, also a shortstop and also mighty dynamic. The Rays have a robust enough farm system to get Ohtani, no doubt, but for an organization that knows it has no chance of re-signing him, the offer will only go so high, even if he is the sort of player who can get them to the World Series.

I think GM Jeff has it right here, the Rays have two quality SS in the farm system in rising star Junior Caminero and former first round pick Carson Williams. If you’re the Angels, you’re looking for centerpieces of the future and it’s far better to build off whichever of those suits your fancy. Besides, the Rays have Wander Franco holding down short for the near future.

As far as the rest of the deal, it’s a lot of it depends because no trade machine is going to adequately create a deal for the highest bidder when it’s half a season. Instead, it’s probably better to use history as our guide, where the closest approximation might be Juan Soto.

Padres receive

OF Juan Soto
1B Josh Bell

Nationals receive

1B Luke Voit
SS C.J. Abrams
LHP MacKenzie Gore
OF Robert Hassell III
OF James Wood
RHP Jarlin Susana

Abrams and Gore were the headliners here, where they are both well regarded prospects with some red flags. Abrams had a strikeout problem, and Gore injury concerns with his elbow. Hassell was a recent first round draft pick, Wood has middle of the order potential, and these represented 4 of the Padres Top 5 prospects.

The Rays farm is deeper, it can be a bit more spread out that top five, but you can see how expensive this deal was from a Padres lens.

To that end, you might be tempted to make a Rays deal around Williams (arguably the No. 2 prospect) and Baz (who graduated but was No. 1 not long ago), and then round things out with the likes of 1B Xavier Isaac (a first rounder) and OF Mason Auer (similar potential to Wood). Then again, you might be tempted to discount the overall trade offer if you do not think Ohtani would sign a longterm deal like Soto did with San Diego.

What say you?

Give us your best Ohtani trade offer in the comments below.