Japanese two-way star Shohei Ohtani has agreed to sign with the Los Angeles Angels, his agency announced on Friday.
“This morning, after a thorough, detailed process, Shohei Ohtani has decided to sign with the Los Angeles Angels,” Nez Balelo, the co-head of CAA Baseball, said in a statement. “Shohei is humbled and flattered by all the time and effort that so many teams put into their presentations and sincerely thanks them for their professionalism. In the end, he felt a strong connection with the Angels and believes they can best help him reach his goals in Major League Baseball.”
Ohtani, 23, was put up for bid by the Pacific League’s Nippon Ham Fighters for the maximum $20 million posting fee. He had until 11:59 p.m. ET on Dec. 22 to agree to a team with a Major League Baseball team, and had narrowed his choices to the Angels, Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners.
“I want to thank the clubs and everyone else for respecting our intent to make this very important process as private as possible,” Balelo’s statement read. “We were resolved to having a fair, methodical process. Teams clearly put in a lot of work, and we are grateful for that. The past few weeks also further demonstrated Shohei’s incredible thoughtfulness, attention to detail and determination to make an informed decision.”
Ohtani has expressed an interest in continuing to pitch and hit in the major leagues, which led many to believe that he would favor an American League team that could use him as a designated hitter. The Angels were among several teams to make trades in recent days to increase their available international slot money available to sign Ohtani.
The Angels still had just under $2.3 million, compared to the approximately $3.5 million the Mariners and Rangers had.
“He read every page of every presentation and listened to every word in each meeting, and he was so impressed that it was not an easy choice,” Balelo said. “While there has been much speculation about what would drive Shohei’s decision, what mattered to him most wasn’t market size, time zone or league but that he felt a true bond with the Angels.
“He sees this as the best environment to develop and reach the next level and attain his career goals. More than ever, I believe this is not only a special talent but a man of special character, and like everyone else I’m excited to see him in Major League Baseball.”
Ohtani is 42-15 with a 2.52 ERA and a 1.08 EHIP in five seasons in the Nippon league. He also hit 286 with 48 home runs and 166 RBIs over 403 games.