A.J. Preller details Padres' Shohei Ohtani pursuit prior to Juan Soto trade

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By , Audacy

The only player who reasonably would have been traded at the deadline that carries more starpower than Juan Soto was Shohei Ohtani.

Yep. The Padres were pursuing him too.

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The Padres made the deal of the decade last week, landing the superstar slugger from the Washington Nationals for a bevy of highly-ranked prospects. However, there was a time when it seemed like Ohtani might be the biggest star on the market.

The Los Angeles Angels’ season is lost thanks to underperformance and injuries, thus wasting yet another year of Ohtani and Mike Trout. Ohtani is set to become a free agent following the 2023 season, and the Angels would have gotten a more substantial return if they moved him last week instead of waiting until the offseason or next season.

Certainly, many teams checked in on his availability. The Padres were one of them, and general manager A.J. Preller detailed their pursuit on “The Show”.

“There are some incredible conversations internally when you’re talking about two A-lane type talents and very unique players,” Preller said of Ohtani and Soto. “It’s kind of like sports talk radio debates that we’re having in our room, like which one of the two? Could you do both?

“Ultimately in that situation I think the one thing we got a feel for again was that if they did go down that path we were going to be in the game, and maybe with some different players too that didn’t end up in (the Soto) deal. There were some guys that both teams had interest in, there were some guys that it felt like each team valued a little bit differently. At the end of the day, I think from Perry (Minasian’s) standpoint it became clear …

“With the Nats pretty early on, you could tell they were going to listen, they were going to pursue this deal. With the Angels it was kind of like 'Hey, let’s kind of consider it,' but not really sure if they were going to end up putting him on the market and making a deal. Ultimately it didn’t go that route and we had prepared to give (our attention) to some other things. But for a week there there were some good, spirited debates, fun debates.

“And yeah, I think these organizations value our players, but at the end of the day they were clear ultimately in the end that they were going to move forward with Ohtani, and we moved on with Soto.”

The Angels moving Ohtani at this deadline probably would not have been shrewd. They went into this season thinking they could compete, and to completely blow it all up just a few months later would be a knee-jerk response to something not going to plan.

Ultimately though, the Angels might need to have an honest conversation about their direction, and if trading Ohtani before his walk year is the best path. That likely will come in the offseason, which the Angels could upend if they make Ohtani available.

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