After a lengthy recruiting process, Shohei Ohtani has reportedly selected the Los Angeles Angels as his MLB team.
According to LA Times reporter Dylan Hernandez, Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani has made a decision regarding which MLB team he will sign with. Ohtani had narrowed his list down to seven finalists, but has selected the Los Angeles Angels. The Seattle Mariners, Los Angels Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres and Texas Rangers were also in the running.
With this decision, Ohtani ends months-long speculation about where he would end up in the major leagues. His preference for the West Coast became clear as he listed his finalists. Statements from New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman that Ohtani preferred a smaller market had fans in Seattle, San Francisco and San Diego buzzing, but in the end, he opted to sign with a team in the country’s second-largest market.
Ohtani’s agent at CAA, Nez Balelo issued a statement on hit client’s ultimate decision to sign with the Angels, citing a connection with the Angels. Ultimately, it was that relationship that drove Ohtani to pick the team over the other finalists.
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.”
With the decision out of the way, Ohtani can now return his focus to preparing to play in the major leagues. He will assume the mantle of staff ace for an Angels rotation that was 12th in the league in ERA last year but does not have a true number-one starter. Ohtani will likely serve as DH between starts, pushing nearly 38-year-old Albert Pujols to resume playing the field or take on a part-time role. It will be interesting to see how old-school manager Mike Scioscia handles the two-way star, as his outfield is full and Pujols has little-to-no value as a defender.
Landing Ohtani is another big step towards returning to relevance for the Angels, who have only made the playoffs once in Mike Trout’s seven-year career and have been a sub-.500 team in three of the last five seasons. Already this offseason, the Angels have re-signed left fielder Justin Upton, and they may not be done making moves on the heels of this massive win.