Shohei Ohtani is officially gone, and the Los Angeles Angels need to find a way to bounce back from their devastating loss. No, replacing him with one player is not possible. That's why the Dodgers are paying him $700 million for the next decade. While there is no quick fix, the Angels can, and should, look to bring in as much talent as possible with Shohei gone.
There are some great proven players like Blake Snell and Cody Bellinger available, but the Angels would be best served turning their attention to a relative unknown. Fellow Japanese right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto. He can't hit, but boy, can he pitch.
Yoshinobu Yamamoto has to be the Angels biggest priority now that Shohei Ohtani is gone
With Ohtani off the market, the biggest fish right now is easily this Japanese right-hander. Yamamoto might be unproven when it comes to his performance in MLB, but if he's anything close to the dominant pitcher he was in Japan, he'd be one of the best pitchers in the sport. Yamamoto has won three straight Sawamura Awards (Japanese Cy Young) and oh yeah, he's just 25 years old.
The Angels winning in 2024 is just about impossible without Ohtani. I mean, this team won 73 games with him. Even with better injury luck it's hard to envision them doing much without him. By signing Yamamoto, they wouldn't be all in on 2023. They'd be building for both the present and the future.
This Angels team is young. Reid Detmers, Chase Silseth, Ben Joyce, Sam Bachman, Jose Soriano, Logan O'Hoppe, Nolan Schanuel, Zach Neto, Jo Adell, and Mickey Moniak are all 25 and under. The Angels are in the midst of building a core. Yamamoto at just 25 years old fits in beautifully there while giving them the ace they desperately need.
Yamamoto comes with the slightest risk considering the fact that he hasn't pitched in this league before, but there's no reason to believe he'd be anything but a frontline starter.
The Angels can only control what they can control. Offering the most money will at least get Yamamoto interested. He might get around $300 million. That should not stop the Angels. These opportunities to get 25-year-old aces for nothing more than money don't come around often. If he spurns the Angels for one of the New York teams or the Dodgers even if they offer the most money, there's nothing they can do. However, it's up to Arte Moreno to put his best foot forward when it comes to landing this pitcher. That's how he can at least begin to try to win this fanbase back.