Option trading: Royals acquire Ervin Santana from Angels

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This week the Angels have reportedly been shopping Ervin Santana and Dan Haren as they face big-money option decisions on both pitchers and according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com they’ve found a taker for Santana in the Royals.

No word yet on the return coming back to the Angels, but don’t expect it to be much. Santana’s option is for $13 million and he was pretty terrible for much of this year, finishing with a 5.16 ERA in 30 starts. And simply by trading Santana instead of declining his option the Angels saved a $1 million buyout.

Within his overall inconsistency Santana has often shown the ability to be a front-line starter, but he’s always struggled to limit homers and at this point he’s a 30-year-old with a 4.33 career ERA. For a one-year pickup he’s a decent gamble for the pitching-starved Royals, even if the price is a bit much.

UPDATE: Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com reports that the Angels will receive left-hander Brandon Sisk, a 27-year-old Triple-A reliever. In other words, a non-prospect.

UPDATE II: According to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times, the Angels exercised Santana’s $13 million option before the trade and will cover $1 million of it. So the Royals will pay him $12 million.

Starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani will pinch-hit and pinch-run for the Angels in 2018

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The Angels’ bench is looking woefully thin this winter — so thin, in fact, that manager Mike Scioscia says he’s considering utilizing starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner on the days he’s not scheduled to pitch.

I’ve never had a pitcher pinch-run,” Scioscia told reporters Saturday. “There’s more bad than good that can come out of it. But Shohei is not just a pitcher. He’s a guy that has the ability to do some of the things coming off the bench, whether it’s pinch-hit or pinch-run, and we’re definitely going to tap into that if it’s necessary, because we feel we’re not putting him at risk. It’s something he’s able to do.

Granted, spring training allows for a certain amount of experimentation before managers and players decide what works best for them, so this may not be the strategy the Angels employ for the entire season. In addition to coming off the bench between starts, Ohtani is also expected to see 2-3 days at DH every week, forcing Albert Pujols to shift over to first base to accommodate the new two-way star.

Ohtani’s hitting prowess has already been well-documented — he has a lifetime .286/.358/.500 batting line from NPB and crushed a batting practice home run during his initial workouts with the team this week — but his skills on the basepaths have received less attention so far. MLB Pipeline describes the 23-year-old phenom as a “well-above average runner” whose speed has yet to manifest stolen bases: he’s nabbed just 13 bases in 17 chances over the last five years. That’s a number Scioscia hopes to see increased this season, though he doesn’t want his ace pitcher making any head-first slides on the basepaths to do so.

To be sure, it’s an unorthodox role for any young player to step into, but if anyone can pull it off, Ohtani can.