It was widely expected that the most recent Japanese baseball star, Shohei Ohtani, was going to sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers or the Seattle Mariners this offseason, but the Japanese “Babe Ruth” shocked the baseball world by agreeing to a deal with the Los Angeles Angels.
The 23-year-old was becoming a sensation in Japan with not only his pitching, but also his hitting. In Ohtani’s time with his professional baseball team, the Nippon-Ham Fighters, had 42 wins and 15 losses with an earned run average of 2.52 as a pitcher. His statistics as a hitter was impressive as he put up 296 hits, 48 home runs and drove in 166 runs in five years. Ohtani will now be taking his talents to Anaheim and making his major league debut for the Angels in 2018.
The Angels will be using most of their the international signing bonuses that they acquired via trades to sign Ohtani. The team will also be paying the Fighters $20 million for his posting fee. Ohtani will be earning $3.5 million as a signing bonus and a guaranteed salary of $545,000 for the next three years. Money was not factor in his decision to make the jump to the MLB. If it was, he would have waited until he was 25 to command a guaranteed contract that would have paid almost $200 million for six to seven season.
Ohtani with his talents will be intriguing to watch as he makes the transition to America. Will he be able to fit into the American culture in the Orange County and the clubhouse? How will longtime Angels manager, Mike Scioscia, be able to use him in the lineup throughout the 162 game schedule? There is a possibility that the team could make use of a six man rotation. In Japan, Ohtani would pitch only once a week. Japanese starting pitching are not use to pitching twice a week.
We have seen the Los Angeles Dodgers employ the “taxi squad” this season with their pitchers coming in and out through the disabled list or being sent down to the minor leagues to keep the pitchers’ arms fresh for October. Maybe the Angels can pick up some strategies from that as well, if they do decide to move forward with having Ohtani pitching at least twice a week.
Do you think that Ohtani will make smooth transition to the major leagues? He will definitely a player that everyone will be keeping an eye for this upcoming season. Let us know your thoughts at @TheUtilityMan on Twitter!