Untouchable Angels in trade talks: Shohei Ohtani
There was never a doubt that Shohei Ohtani would become a star in Major League Baseball, it was always a question of whether he would do so as a hitter, a pitcher, or as a gimmick combination of both. After a year plus on this side of the pond, it goes without saying that he is all that was expected of him, and the gimmick label is easily put in the past.
The soon-to-be 26-year-old became an instant star when he signed with the Angels on December 9, 2017. He immediately made his impact by hitting .285/.361/.564 with 22 home runs and 61 RBI in his first 104 games with the Angels. Despite the shortened season, he still managed a 2.8 fWAR and a wRC+ of with the bat of 151 in his first 367 plate appearances. Coupled with a 4-2 record on the mound with a 3.31 ERA, a 3.57 FIP, and a 10.97 K/9 rate in 54.1 innings, Ohtani gave the Angels 3.8 wins above replacement in his rookie season.
Of course, that season came with the caveat of Tommy John surgery, something that had been feared when he was initially signed. And while he didn’t pitch at all in 2019, Ohtani did return to hit .286/.343/.505 with 18 home runs and 62 RBI after being cleared to swing last season.
However, this discussion isn’t about what Ohtani has done in his two-shortened seasons thus far. Rather, this is about what he means to the future of this organization, especially over the next four seasons of team control.
Expected to be fully healthy for the first time in his Angels career, the two-way star is expected to return to both the line-up and the mound in 2020 and really get a chance to showcase what he can bring to the team.
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The Angels have the opportunity to be patient with him and let him show what he brings to the table, thanks in no part to the very team-friendly deal they have him signed to thanks to the current MLB posting rules. Given his long-term potential and his instant star-power with the Japanese and American fanbases, Ohtani brings intangibles to the organization that is simply not something you move on from without fully exploring first.