Shohei Otani has joined the Angels
After receiving arguably the most hype of any international free agent in MLB history, Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani has made his decision, and has chosen to sign with the Los Angeles of Anaheim. The Angels, who recently traded prospect Jacob Pearson to acquire $1 million in international signing money to chase Ohtani, beat out the Mariners, Giants, Padres, Cubs, Dodgers, and Giants, to win the superstar’s services. Ohtani’s agent, Nez Balelo of CAA, had this to say about his client; “”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.”
In total, the Angels had $2,315,000 to spend on Ohtani, 23, which while not the most amount of money a team could offer, it proved to be enough to lure Ohtani to Los Angeles. While it is currently unknown how much the Angles will let him hit in addition to being a starting pitcher, he should provide an instant upgrade to the Angels lineup, and pitching rotation.
In his NPB career with the Nippon Ham Fighters, Ohtani was a career .286/.358/.500 hitter, with 48 HR, and 166 RBI across 403 games, and 1170 plate appearances. His best season as a hitter came in 2016, when in only 104 games, he hit .322/.416/.588 with 22 HR and 67 RBI. Assuming that the Angels will allow Ohtani to serve as their at least part-time designated hitter, he should add a formidable presence to an already strong lineup that includes Justin Upton, Andrelton Simmons, Albert Pujols, and the best player in baseball, Mike Trout. Considering the Angels finished 22nd in the MLB with 710 runs, 28th in AVG at .243, and 27th with a .712 OPS, Ohtani could be the missing piece that extends the Angels lineup and moves in into the upper echelon of MLB teams.
While Ohtani does have a chance to succeed as a two-way player in the MLB, it is his pitching ability that is his bread and butter, with a fastball that has been clocked at 102 MPH, and a nasty splitter and slider that are difficult to pick up from his 6-foot-5 frame. In 85 games for the Ham Fighters, Ohtani went 42-15 with a 2.52 ERA, 1.076 WHIP, and 624 strikeouts in 543.0 innings pitched. While his BB/9 were slightly high at 3.3, his 10.3 K/9 represent an elite mark, as do his 0.4 HR/9. For an Angels pitching staff that ranked 12th in the MLB with a 4.20 ERA, and 15th with 1312 strikeouts, Ohtani should combine with a now healthy Garret Richards to form a formidable 1-2 punch at the front of the rotation. With Ohtani in tow, the Angles have not only added another ace, but have distanced themselves from another season of having to give starts to the likes of Ricky Nolasco, J.C. Ramirez, and Jesse Chavez.
After already resigning Justin Upton to a big extension earlier this offseason, the Angels have made the biggest move of the hot stove season thus far. With six cost-controlled seasons of Shohei Ohtani combined with the supernova of Mike Trout, don’t be surprised if the Angels step out of the shadow of the Dodgers and are ready to compete for a championship as soon as this season.