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No, the Phillies are not going to sell the farm for Shohei Ohtani

It’s both unwise and unlikely the Phils will unload the farm for 69 games of the Japanese star.

Houston Astros v Los Angeles Angels Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

It’s taken about 93 games, but following their stirring series victory over the stumbling San Diego Padres, the Phillies have themselves a great combination of good vibes and solid positioning in the National League wild card picture.

The odds of catching the 61-31 Braves are exceedingly low, with Atlanta at 98.9% to win the division according to Fangraphs. They’re 30 games over .500 for crying out loud, but they’re also the outliers of the Senior Circuit. The rest of the National League’s seven contenders — the Dodgers, Brewers, Giants, Marlins, Diamondbacks, Phillies and Reds — all have between 50 and 53 wins right now, jumbled in a mass of humanity around the three wild cards, Central and Western division standings.

The Phils’ 51-42 record is a season-best nine games over .500, just a half-game behind Arizona for the 3rd wild card and just one game behind San Francisco and Miami for the top wild card spot, and there is a clear separation between them and the likely deadline sellers. The Padres and Cubs are both 8 games back of the 3rd wild card, the Mets are 8.5 back, the Pirates are 10.5 out and the Cardinals are a staggering 11.5 out of the race.

The Phillies will be in the mix the rest of the way, and in order to outlast two of the other seven 50-53 win teams and grab one of the three NL wild cards, they’ll need help from the entire roster, and some outside assistance as well.

There’s no doubt Dave Dombrowski is going to be active at the deadline. It’s what he does. Last season’s pickups of David Robertson, Noah Syndergaard and Brandon Marsh helped pave the way for their World Series run, and one should expect a similar type of combination of players to supplement the 2023 Phils.

One player they shouldn’t expect is Shohei Ohtani.

If the Angels make their Japanese superstar available, Dombrowski should pick up the phone. No harm in that, right? It’s hard to imagine what the asking price for perhaps the greatest player to ever play the game would be, but one can imagine Griff McGarry and Johan Rojas as the lead horses ain’t going to get it done.

It’s been argued by some that the Phillies should mortgage the future to bring in Ohtani, and while that position is understandable, and fun, it’s also not wise.

I get it. We’ve never seen anyone like Shohei. He leads all of baseball in Wins Above Replacement (6.5), in home runs (34) and slugging percentage (.665). He’s hit the third-most home runs since the start of last season (trailing behind Aaron Judge and Kyle Schwarber), has a .301 average, a .386 OBP and has even stolen 11 bases. He’s also a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher, amassing 18 starts, 105.1 innings, a 3.50 ERA, 3.97 FIP, and 1.9 fWAR, striking out 11.88 batters per nine while walking 3.93. He immediately slots in both as your cleanup hitter and your No. 2 starter, two insanely valuable players wrapped into one.

Of course, should he get injured, he wipes out two hugely important positions at the same time, but that’s the risk you run with a guy like this, so stop being so negative all the time!

All things being equal, a trade for Ohtani makes total sense, even if it means you send Schwarber back to left field every day so Harper can play 1B and Ohtani can DH.

Ohtani is a rental. While his addition would likely make the Phils a lock to win a wild card spot, could they make up the 10.5 games that separate them and the Braves in the NL East? Probably not, and remember, a wild card spot only gives you a three-game opening round series in which anything can happen.

Just ask the Cardinals and Mets.

It’s no fun being overly cautious in a situation like this, but Los Angeles would certainly want some top shelf young starting pitching, and you can bet Andrew Painter would part of any deal. They might even push for Mick Abel to come along as well. Dombrowski has said both players are untouchable at the moment, and while I’m generally more open to trading pitching prospects than most, even that would be hard to swallow, considering Aaron Nola’s impending free agency and Zack Wheeler’s after the ‘24 season. They might even ask for the Phils’ lefty Ranger Suarez, too.

Some young position players would need to be on the move, as well. Bryson Stott could also be a guy from the big league roster the Angels would seek, along with Rojas and minor leaguers like Justin Crawford and/or Carlos De La Cruz. Other lower level guys with high ceilings would be involved, too.

Again, I’m all for trading some prospects, but the Phils would likely have to say goodbye to three or four of their top-10 prospects, if not more. They’d also probably lose a young, productive player from the big league roster, if not more.

It’s hard to know what a trade for Ohtani would cost, because no one like him has ever played baseball before, and certainly no team has been dumb enough to trade one or fail to surround him with enough talent to compete. There is the argument that trading for Ohtani would give you an advantage over other teams that will pursue him in free agency this off-season, but I don’t personally believe it does. We used the same argument with regard to Manny Machado before the Orioles traded him to the Dodgers in 2017, and he ended up in San Diego after signing a free agent deal with them.

Without knowing the type of package it would take to land him, you would have to realize that you’re probably only getting him for less than half a season, and that you’re mortgaging your future to do it. While the 2023 Phillies season is already kind of a World Series-or-bust deal, it still feels like too short-sighted a move to make.

Look, it’s not happening anyway...

...although I must admit, if they did do it... if they sold the farm, mortgaged the future, and brought Ohtani to Philadelphia... it would make for a memorable summer.