The Shohei Ohtani saga is over – the coveted Japanese pitcher/hitter has decided to sign with the Los Angeles Angels.
Shohei Ohtani is signing with the Los Angeles Angels.
— Jared Diamond (@jareddiamond) December 8, 2017
Angels star center fielder Mike Trout seemed pleased.
— Mike Trout (@MikeTrout) December 8, 2017
It’s been a busy offseason for the Angels, who re-signed left fielder Justin Upton in November right after the season ended and inked former Braves prospect Kevin Maitan earlier this week. Also this week, the Angels acquired some international slot money to help their pursuit of Ohtani, and even though they couldn’t offer him as much of a bonus as either the Mariners or Rangers, they were able to sell him on the franchise’s direction going forward.
Here’s a statement from Ohtani’s agent, Nez Balelo.
“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. The past few weeks also further demonstrated Shohei’s incredible thoughtfulness, attention to detail and determination to make an informed decision. He read every page of every presentation and listened to every word in each meeting, and he was so impressed that it was not an easy choice. While there has been much speculation about what would drive Shohei’s decision, what mattered to him most wasn’t market size, time zone or league but that he felt a true bond with the Angels. He sees this as the best environment to develop and reach the next level and attain his career goals. More than ever, I believe this is not only a special talent but a man of special character, and like everyone else I’m excited to see him in Major League Baseball.”
Ohtani will now slot into a rotation mix that also features Parker Bridwell, Andrew Heaney, JC Ramirez, Garrett Richards, Matt Shoemaker, Tyler Skaggs, and Nick Tropeano. Of course, all of those players aside from Bridwell missed significant time last season, with Tropeano missing the entire season and Richards and Heaney making just 11 starts between them.
It’ll be interesting to see if the Angels are now done this offseason. The team’s infield is still somewhat of a mess aside from shortstop Andrelton Simmons, but aside from Mike Moustakas (who will cost a pretty penny), Todd Frazier, and maybe Neil Walker, there aren’t many fits on the free agent market to fill holes at second and third base.
It’s pretty stunning Ohtani landed with the Angels, as after he cut his list of preferred teams to seven, the Angels were probably the team linked to him the least of those seven (following, in whatever order, the Rangers, Mariners, Padres, Giants, Dodgers, and Cubs). But landing Ohtani is a massive coup for Billy Eppler and company, and the AL West just got a bit tougher – not that it was easy in the first place, given that the reigning World Champion Houston Astros sit atop the division.