Angels sign Ohtani, Yankees land Stanton as MLB offseason heats up

Reigning MVP Giancarlo Stanton has been traded to the New York YankeesThe floodgates are open on the MLB offseason. Every team was waiting to see where Japanese two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani would sign, and he made his decision on Friday when he joined the Los Angeles Angels. The following day, the New York Yankees took advantage of a Miami Marlins salary dump by trading for Giancarlo Stanton, uniting the home run leaders from both the American and National Leagues on the same team.

Stanton was named NL MVP after hitting 59 home runs for the Marlins, who were purchased by a management group featuring former Yankees star Derek Jeter earlier in the year. Their top priority in the offseason has been shedding salary, and they had already shipped out Dee Gordon, but no Marlins salaries came close to the $265 million remaining on Stanton’s contract. That kind of money is no issue for a behemoth like New York, which only gave up second baseman Starlin Castro and prospects Jorge Guzman and Jose Devers in the trade.

Stanton joins a Yankees batting order already home to AL home run leader Aaron Judge, who was runner-up for AL MVP. Together, the two sluggers should form the most intimidating duo opposing pitchers have seen in a long time. Playing for New York might even inflate Stanton’s home run production because Yankee Stadium has been one of the best ballparks for hitting homers while Marlins Park was one of the worst. Hitting wasn’t the Yankees’ biggest issue heading into the offseason, but they have a big enough budget to keep shopping for a marquee pitcher to add to their starting rotation in the hopes of improving on 2017’s ALCS defeat.

New York missed out on Ohtani purely due to geography. Ohtani made it clear to many of the teams interested in signing him that he wanted to play on the West Coast so he could be closer to his home nation. The Texas Rangers and the Chicago Cubs were the only two teams not near the Pacific Ocean that Ohtani seriously considered before signing with the Angels, who already have one of the best hitters and all-around players in Mike Trout. The combination of Trout and Ohtani should give Los Angeles enough to compete for a wild card berth, if not compete with the Houston Astros for the AL West title.

The Angels plan on letting Ohtani play as both a pitcher and a designated hitter, making full use of the multifaceted talents he displayed in Japan. Ohtani’s arrival displaces veteran Albert Pujols, who has been the main DH in Los Angeles for the last two years. Pujols won three MVP awards in his prime, but those days are far behind him and he is still owed $114 million through 2021 thanks to the back-loaded contract he signed with the Angels six years ago. While he will likely still DH in games where Ohtani cannot, Pujols’ days as an everyday MLB player could be over.