The Los Angeles Dodgers might be struggling with more competition than expected for Shohei Ohtani, but are the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim really a part of it?
According to the player's own ambitions, Ohtani requires cover of darkness for his upcoming free agent negotiations. The Dodgers have long been hailed as the favorite for his services, but Ohtani has also famously never chosen the favorite for his services. Various publications believe the Rangers will charge hard, the Red Sox have a unique opportunity to bring New Balance to their lineup, and the Cubs may very well be at the front of the current line (one deleted tweet later).
Despite Ohtani's surgically repaired elbow delaying his return to the mound by a full season, all estimates still have his final contract numbers over the $500 million plateau, with some assuming it will creep closer to $550 million. The deal will undoubtedly include plenty of incentives, but nothing indicates it'll become more palatable for MLB's mid-tier teams. Whichever team wins the bidding will be making a significant commitment, and will also be forging a career-long partnership.
That's why it was so stunning to see MLB.com's Mark Feinsand theorize that the Angels could still win this bidding and trigger an improbable reunion. Sure, Feinsand had to pick a free agent reunion for every team, but ... why not choose Lucas Giolito in Anaheim, especially after they traded for him midseason to get a peek at his services. The peek didn't go well, but ... still!
MLB.com's Mark Feinsand: Angels could still reunite with Shohei Ohtani in free agency
As Feinsand wrote:
"What seemed like a stretch a few months ago might turn into a reality, as Ohtani’s elbow injury could open the door for a return to Anaheim. If potential suitors are even remotely wary of his elbow, Ohtani’s deal -- which is still expected to be the biggest in baseball history -- could fall into a range that is reasonable for the Angels to take a run at bringing him back."- Mark Feinsand
It, uh ... it still feels like a stretch, with all due respect.
Ohtani and the Angels have tried to make things work since his arrival in the United States, but even with the two most bright-shining talents in the game on the same roster, Arte Moreno and Co. have never assembled anything even closely resembling a playoff team. It seems far more likely Moreno will live out his worst fear and lose Ohtani for nothing but a comp pick rather than re-sign him at the horn to a deal that takes him through the end of his big-league career.
Unless the elbow fears slice every other team's proposed contract in half, consider this reunion unlikely, to say the least.