Yankees Rumors: Could Bombers pull off Shohei Ohtani blockbuster?

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Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels (Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images) /

Do Yankees have any chance at a Shohei Ohtani trade? Does he hate the Yankees?

The Yankees’ personal history with Ohtani is actually somewhat bizarre, and is by far the biggest hurdle standing in the way of a potential deal (other than his obvious excellence negating a trade before discussions even begin).

Way back in 2017, the Yankees were the heavily-rumored favorite to sign Ohtani out of Japan, only to wind up slapped in the face and embarrassed. New York was actually the first team that was formally ruled out in the Ohtani chase; the star’s representatives did not allow Brian Cashman to make an in-person presentation, claiming Ohtani preferred a West Coast team or a smaller market. Suddenly, things were down to Los Angeles and Seattle, leaving the Yankees (and the fanbase) shellshocked.

The Bombers were coming off a surprise ALCS run, ending up one game away from the World Series. A new era led by Aaron Judge, Luis Severino and Gary Sánchez was just beginning. He didn’t want to be a part of that?

Since that largely-forgotten moment in time, the reception for Ohtani in the Bronx has typically been one of reverence rather than animosity. Certain folks still remember he didn’t want this, though, and that mentality has made his struggles on the mound in New York pop a bit brighter. Though Aroldis Chapman’s rain-soaked blown save stole the spotlight eventually, Ohtani was yanked from a start in the first inning during the summer of 2021; ultimately, seven earned runs crossed the plate.

Given a chance to make up for it in 2022, Ohtani was tagged for three homers, four earned runs, and eight hits in three-plus innings, resulting in a forgettable loss to Nestor Cortes. Are those two duds because of Ohtani’s small-market preference and a decided discomfort with New York? Or do the Yankees just have his number for whatever reason? Keep in mind the 2021 crew that battered him during his MVP season wasn’t exactly an offensive dynamo.

Factoring in Arte Moreno’s discomfort with surrendering a star in any capacity, combined with Ohtani’s blatant shunning of New York the last time he was on the open market, a deal between the two parties seems unlikely. Who knows, though? Maybe he’s changed. And maybe the Angels’ crazed billionaire will come to his senses.