Japanese star Shohei Ohtani has agreed to sign with the Los Angeles Angels, his agent said on Friday.
In addition to the Angels, Ohtani had met with the Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners.
“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,” his agent, Nez Balelo, said in a statement. “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 was put up for bid last week by the Pacific League’s Nippon-Ham Fighters for the maximum $20 million posting fee. The 23-year-old had until 11:59 p.m. ET on Dec. 22 to agree to a contract with an MLB team.
Ohtani was 42-15 with a 2.52 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP in five seasons as a pitcher with Nippon-Ham. He had a .286/.358/.500 line with 48 homers and 166 RBIs in 403 games during that span.
“We are honored Shohei Ohtani has decided to join the Angels Organization,” the team said in a statement. “We felt a unique connectivity with him throughout the process and are excited he will become an Angel.”
On Wednesday, the Angels traded minor league outfielder Jacob Pearson to the Minnesota Twins for $1 million in international bonus pool money. That gave the Angels a total of $2,315,000 to spend on their Ohtani offer.
Teams interested in signing Ohtani were limited to the amount they had available in their international bonus pools. The Rangers had the biggest available allotment at $3.535 million. The Mariners also made a trade with the Twins on Wednesday to increase their offer to $2,557,500.
Ohtani would have likely signed a deal in excess of nine figures if he had waited until his 25th birthday, when he could have become an unencumbered free agent. But he has consistently expressed a desire to test himself against top competition regardless of the financial ramifications.
Angels star Mike Trout reacted to the news with a post on his Twitter account on Friday.
— Mike Trout (@MikeTrout) December 8, 2017
Ohtani choosing the Angels had ripple effects in Las Vegas. The Angels went from 50-1 to 30-1 to win the World Series at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.