3 'second tier' free agent starting pitchers the Angels should pursue

Mar 21, 2023; Miami, Florida, USA; Japan starting pitcher Shota Imanaga (21) delivers a pitch during
Mar 21, 2023; Miami, Florida, USA; Japan starting pitcher Shota Imanaga (21) delivers a pitch during / Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
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The Los Angeles Angels lost Shohei Ohtani and have yet to replace him. We've seen hints on how the Angels might plan on replacing him with their reported interest in players like Blake Snell and Teoscar Hernandez, but who knows if the Halos will actually end up with both or even one of those players.

As for what the plan actually is, that remains to be seen. The Angels have had reported interest in some of the best free agents, but Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required) says they're looking at making a trade for a frontline starter and are looking more at the 'second tier' of free agent starting pitchers.

What the second tier means is up to the reader's discretion. To me, Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery are the top tier. They're the arms who are certain to get nine figures. The next level includes these three pitchers who are likely going to get multi-year deals but they'll wind up being a whole lot cheaper.

1) Shota Imanaga

All of the focus this offseason has been on Japanese free agents Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto. This makes sense as Ohtani is the best player in the game and Yamamoto is a 25-year-old phenom who should help lead the Dodgers rotation for years to come. There's a third Japanese pitcher that is quite good but isn't receiving nearly the same attention, and that's Shota Imanaga.

Imanaga has spent each of the last eight years in the NPB pitching for the Yokohama DeNA Baystars and has a 2.96 ERA in 192 appearances and 1,129 innings pitched. He's been very solid throughout his entire NPB career and is coming off another terrific season in 2023.

Imanaga posted a 2.66 ERA in 24 starts and 159 innings pitched, striking out 188 batters compared to just 24 walks. He wasn't nearly as good as Yamamoto, but that doesn't mean he wasn't good at all.

At 30 years old he's not nearly as interesting to MLB teams as Yamamoto, but he'll still get a pricey multi-year deal. MLB Trade Rumors predicts a five-year deal worth $85 million which would be quite similar to the deal Kodai Senga got last offseason with the Mets. Senga had similar numbers to Imanaga in the NPB and wound up being one of the best pitchers in the National League. Can Imanaga follow that same trajectory?