It has always been abundantly clear that re-signing Shohei Ohtani was plans A, B, and C for the Los Angeles Angels. It might not be easy to tell for some since the Halos inexplicably refused to match the offer he got from the Dodgers, but not a lot about what this franchise does makes much sense nowadays anyway.
With Ohtani gone, we hadn't heard a peep about what the Angels were planning on doing. All we knew was they expected to be competitive, but had no idea how they planned on doing so. Part of that has to do with the market coming to a complete halt even after Ohtani signed, and part of that feels like the Angels really had no alternative plan.
Now, with free agency finally picking up some steam again, we've figured out what the Angels new big priority is. No, it wasn't Yoshinobu Yamamoto as they were never really fully in on him (unfortunately). It is, however, involving them pursuing another one of free agency's top starters.
LA Angels have made reigning NL Cy Young winner Blake Snell their priority per MLB Insider
With Ohtani off the board, all attention was on fellow Japanese phenom Yoshinobu Yamamoto and where he was going to sign. We had heard virtually every big market team in on him except for the Angels which was frustrating. Once there started to be more clarity, other rumors started to leak.
The Giants had made Yamamoto one of their priorities but they were told they were out early, and began to pursue their backup plan, Blake Snell. Yamamoto's $325 million contract will undoubtedly be the largest for a pitcher this offseason (it already broke a MLB record), but Snell is arguably the best arm available after winning the Cy Young. People assume Yamamoto will be good, but Snell has proven it.
Susan Slusser of the SF Chronicle says "According to one industry source, the Angels have made Snell, the reigning NL Cy Young winner, their priority after losing AL MVP Shohei Ohtani to the Dodgers in free agency." How far they're willing to go remains to be seen, but the fact that he's their top priority suggests they're at least somewhat serious here.
The issue with Yamamoto coming off the board is now the attention will turn to Snell not only from the Angels and Giants, but from the other teams that missed out on Yamamoto. Snell is the best option available, and a bidding war will only raise his price. Will Arte Moreno outbid the likes of Steve Cohen and Hal Steinbrenner if they're in on Snell? I guess we'll have to find out.
Snell makes sense for an Angels team in desperate need of frontline starting pitching. Snell is far from the perfect or ideal fit, but there aren't many other options available.