Shohei Ohtani chooses The Los Angeles Angels

(Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images)
(Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images) /

The Los Angeles Angels have won the Shohei Ohtani Sweepstakes

Before we get into the details and what this means for the Angels, allow me to begin by saying: YES YES YES WOOOOOO OHTANI IS AN ANGEL, THIS IS NOT A DRILL.

I do apologize for the outburst, but to all my Angels fans out there, it is true. Shohei Ohtani is officially an Angel. Ohtani’s agent, Nez Balelo, made the announcement earlier today, which you can read here.

So now what?

Ohtani, 23, will earn a league minimum salary in 2018 and the Angels will have to pay a $20 million posting fee to his old team, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. In 2017, Ohtani hit .332/.403/.540 in 65 games, while going 3-2 with a 3.20 ERA on the mound in a season cut short by an ankle injury.

While there is reason to be very excited, Angel fans need to keep their expectations realistic for a minute.

Injury Concern

Yes, he throws 100 mph+, can crush baseballs, and is also pretty fast. But the ankle injury is cause for concern. He had surgery on it in October, so he is most likely in the midst of rehabbing for 2018. But it was on his right ankle, which is his drive foot on the mound. Ohtani and the Angels will need to exercise caution because the risk of reinjury is there.

The Learning Curve

There also exists the issue of the learning curve. No one knows how Ohtani’s skills will translate in America. Most people consider him to be more talented than his countrymen Yu Darvish and Masahiro Tanaka. Both of them have found success in America, so there is no reason to expect less from Ohtani. However, Tanaka and Darvish are strictly pitchers. Ohtani has the distinction of being a two-way player. With that comes twice the expectations for him, so we will have to see just how well he lives up to the hype.

What This Means for the Lineup

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With Ohtani in the fold, the Angels have a legitimate top of the rotation pitcher to go alongside Garrett Richards. The assumption is that he will get time at DH as well, which raises another issue. Albert Pujols has been the DH full time for the better part of 2 seasons now. He isn’t getting any younger, but apparently, Pujols has been losing weight this offseason.

Some speculate Pujols will see time at 1B and give the Angels some flexibility in the lineup. But the Angels have Luis Valbuena and CJ Cron on the roster. If the team fails to land a 3B, then Cron and Valbuena will probably stay on the team.

However, if the Angels get a 3B, a decision will have to be made. Do they keep Cron, who is cheaper and played better in 2017, or Valbuena, who can play both first and third?

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Ultimately, that decision is on Eppler and the Angels, but seeing as though he has managed to keep Upton, pick up Maitan, and has now won the Ohtani sweepstakes this offseason, I am certain he will make the right choice.

As for me, I have to learn a new song for 2018.