The Dodgers lost the Shoehi Ohtani sweepstakes, as Shohei Ohtani has chosen to sign with the Los Angeles Angels. Yes, Ohtani will be coming to LA, but he’ll be on the wrong side of the 5 freeway.
As the week went by, the Dodgers were looking more and more like a long shot to sign Ohtani. Something about the bright lights at Chavez Ravine and pressure to win might have scared off the young 23-year old phenom.
It began looking more and more like a two-team race between the Mariners and the Angels. I personally, thought the Mariners were going all-in by trading for an additional $2.5+ million to give to Ohtani. But in the end, Ohtani stayed true to his morals and didn’t let money sway him in a direction. So it was a BIG swing and a miss for the Mariners.
For Ohtani, he gets the best of both worlds by signing with the Angels over the Dodgers. He gets to play in the American League that doesn’t require him to play a defensive position. He also gets to lead the pitching staff for a team that has no real ambitions to win a championship within the next five season. He gets all this while still getting the benefits of playing for a city with a huge Japanese population and will be staying in the OC which is more Asian populated than LA.
The Angels are pretty big winners here. They get an ace pitcher they can hope develops into a top pitcher in the league. They also add another power bat to a lineup that has Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Justin Upton, Willie Calhoun, and Cj Cron. Business wise it makes sense. Angels Stadium will be sold out on nights where Ohtani is on the mound, and if he’s as good as advertised at the plate, they will undoubtedly see a spike in attendance.
This lays out a few questions moving forward for the Angels. If Ohtani is the full-time DH that would mean Pujols would have to go back to first base. Pujols only started six games last season at first and 28 the season before that. At age 37, you’d have to wonder how much more he has left in the tank. He’s still signed through 2022, so he’s not going anywhere.
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Also, what does this mean for Cj Cron? He’s their young first baseman that they’re hoping develops into a big power hitter. He can’t shift to the outfield where they just traded for Upton and have Trout and Calhoun out there. It will be an interesting situation to monitor this season, but I trust that Mike Scioscia will be able to manage this case.
On to the Dodgers. Well, does this suck? Yes. Is it the end of the world? Absolutely not.
The Dodgers didn’t pull off this move that would have solidified them as the top team in the NL. But there are some silver linings in this. I’m not knocking that Ohtani is a can’t miss prospect. Any team would be lucky to have him. But truth be told there are still some uncertainties about the 23-year-old.
He’s transitioning from another country where he would always pitch on 5 days rest (once a week). That would have forced the Dodgers to adopt a 6-man rotation or at least throw pitchers at irregular rest. Outside of that, many GMs have said that they don’t think Ohtani would pitch more than 150 innings this season.
Second, he’s transitioning to a new league that requires a heck of a lot of traveling. Playing in Japan, he never had to worry about changing time zones and never had to worry about traveling far. Now in the MLB, he’ll have to adjust to traveling across the country after a night game to play the next day.
Third, what was his playing time situation going to look like? Was Dave Roberts going to teach him to play a new position and learn first base? Well, that would mean removing Bellinger, who is a future Gold Glove winner, from first to left-field. Also, would that have eliminated Adrian Gonzalez from the Dodgers picture entirely?
There was just so many questions as to how he fit with the Dodgers. Is he a can’t miss prospect? Yes. But is that the type of player that would put the Dodgers over the hump to win a championship? I’m not so sure.
The Dodgers and every other team in the MLB are betting on hype and potential. In the end, we don’t know if Ohtani is going to pan out. Of course, this is a risk worth taking when you consider the upside it could bring to the organization. But it’s not the end of the world for the Dodgers. Now let’s see if the front office shifts their focus to landing a proven player like Stanton to improve the team.