Shota Imanaga Cubs contract details prove the Angels missed out in a big way

The Angels have no excuse to not top this offer Shota Imanaga wound up signing.

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BASEBALL-JPN-TPE / KAZUHIRO NOGI/GettyImages
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The Los Angeles Angels lost out on yet another free agent that they were linked to when Japanese left-handed starting pitcher Shota Imanaga reportedly agreed to a deal with the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday.

Losing out on Imanaga hurt, but didn't feel like a huge deal considering the fact that most had assumed he was going to get way overpaid for the pitcher he is. Some reports suggested he was expected to receive a nine-figure deal. Turns out, that was not the case at all.

The Cubs' deal with Imanaga became official on Wednesday after he passed his physical. The terms? Four years, $53 million guaranteed. Yes, that's it. In this market, that seemed to favor starting pitchers exponentially, that's what this 30-year-old got according to Jesse Rogers of ESPN.

LA Angels miss out on another free agent as Shota Imanaga signs team-friendly deal with the Cubs

The deal is a bit complicated. It guarantees the four years and $53 million, but can go higher or lower depending on what Imanaga does. The Cubs can make it a five-year deal worth as much as $80 million, or Imanaga can be a free agent again after two years. No matter how you slice it, this is an incredibly team-friendly deal.

Imanaga's ceiling is not the same as Yoshinobu Yamamoto's by any stretch. He's considered to be nothing more than a mid-rotation arm. Even with that being the case, this kind of contract feels like a massive underpay. The Phillies gave Taijuan Walker, a pitcher who was the same age and had a grand total of zero seasons with 30 starts and a 3.89 ERA a four-year deal worth $72 million. Walker got nearly $20 million more despite being really nothing more than a mid-rotation guy. Yes, he was an all-star in 2021, but his collapse in the second half was more impressive than his pitching in the first.

Last offseason we saw the Angels give Tyler Anderson, a pitcher who was three years older and had a grand total of one good season in the majors a three-year deal worth $39 million, and that was largely seen as a good deal! Starting pitchers are extremely expensive, but Imanaga turned out to not be.

He isn't seen as much of a ceiling raiser, but even by adding a guy like Imanaga the Angels would be able to feel comfortable trading Griffin Canning perhaps to get some help in the lineup or in the bullpen. He also could easily surprise many and pitch better than expected. Kodai Senga didn't quite come with ace expectations coming out of Japan but wound up being in Cy Young contention in the National League in his first season.

This feels like a big missed opportunity for the Angels. Giving a little over $13 million annually to a pitcher who is theoretically in his prime for four years with the ability to extend it to five if he's good and not have it hamstring your payroll if he's not can wind up being very valuable. Good get for the Cubs, and a miss in an offseason full of them for the Angels.

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