Japanese star Shohei Ohtani is going to sign with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The news was reported first by Joel Sherman of the New York Post, who tweeted out a statement from Nez Balelo, Ohtani’s agent. The statement reads as follows:
This morning, after a thorough, detailed process, Shohei Ohtani has decided to sign with the Los Angeles Angels. Shohei is humbled and flattered by all the time and effort that so many teams put into their presentations and sincerely thanks them for their professionalism. In the end, he felt a strong connection with the Angels and believes they can best help him reach his goals in Major League Baseball. I want to thank the clubs and everyone else for respecting our intent to make this very important process as private as possible. We were resolved to having a fair, methodical process. Teams clearly put in a lot of work, and we are grateful for that.
Ohtani is one of the best, youngest and most unique talents to ever come out of Japan. He’s only 23 but has already established himself as both an ace pitcher and a star slugger, with a 42-15 record with an ERA of 2.52 and a K/BB ratio of 624/200 in 543 innings while batting .286 with 48 home runs and 166 RBI in 1,140 plate appearances. He has made it clear that he wants to both pitch and hit in the majors, as he did in Japan.
The Angels have $2.315 million in international pool money to give Ohtani. That was the third largest pool, behind the Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners. Seattle had, in particular, been seen as pushing hard for Ohtani and was among the first clubs to publicly state that they would accommodate his wishes to be a two-way player. That the Mariners not only lost out on Ohtani but lost out on him to a division rival that used to employ their current GM, Jerry Dipoto has to be a pretty bitter pill to swallow.
There has been less reported about the Angels plans for Ohtani, though given that they had less money to offer, you have to assume Ohtani liked what he heard about their plans for him. As it is, he clearly has a place in their starting rotation, which is currently manned by number one starter Garrett Richards, who only pitched 27 innings last year, and a host of other often-injured starters like Tyler Skaggs and Andrew Heaney.
To the extent Ohtani gets at bats, they could come at the expense of either DH Albert Pujols, who was among the worst hitters in all of baseball last year, or first baseman C.J. Cron, who posted an OPS+ of only 99 last season. Ohtani could also see time backing up or subbing for corner outfielders Justin Upton and Kole Calhoun.
We’re likely to hear far more about the Angels plans for him in the coming days. In the meantime, welcome to America Shohei Ohtani.