Yankees: Here’s how Shohei Ohtani changed NYY’s plans after signing with Angels


The Shohei Ohtani craze is pretty fun, but at this point it’s hard to get attached to the Los Angeles Angels star. He’s been in Major League Baseball since 2018 and just started making his presence known on both sides of the ball. We just don’t know how long it’ll last.

He’s played in just 293 games since the start of 2018 and underwent Tommy John surgery at the end of that year, which has since limited him to only 17 starts. Feel free to be excited, but temper your expectations!

Nonetheless, his league-leading 14 home runs and incredible 2.10 ERA across his first five starts in 2021 has gotten everyone thinking — how much different would MLB be if Ohtani had joined the New York Yankees, especially this year?

The Bombers are severely lacking a power-hitting lefty and could obviously use all the pitching help they can get. Ohtani is doing both at almost the highest level possible.

In case you don’t remember, the Yankees were among the frontrunners for the Japanese star. And they looked like the favorite at one point. But then, Ohtani pivoted and it changed everything.

He joined the Angels, upended the Yankees’ offseason plans after the 2017 season, and general manager Brian Cashman then switched gears by … trading for Giancarlo Stanton.

Shohei Ohtani changed everything for the Yankees when he said no to them.

Well, that’s quite the difference, isn’t it? Some might say Ohtani screwed the Yankees by forcing them to make this blockbuster move, but it depends how you look at it.

The Stanton trade does have its cons. He can’t play the field. He’s under contract through 2027 at nearly $27 million per season. When he’s slumping, it’s some of the worst hitting you’ve ever seen.

But when he’s hot? He’s one of the best hitters in the league. How about the pros?!

Stanton essentially carried the Yankees in 2018 when they were dealing with countless injuries. He had one of the best postseason series you’ll ever see in 2020 (though it resulted in a loss). He’s off to a scorching hot start this year and could finally give the Yankees a full season’s worth of dominance while (almost) everyone else is available for most of the year.

And if we’re being totally honest with ourselves, Stanton has handled the New York spotlight admirably. The man was booed during the FIRST series of the 2021 season and quickly responded to slash .282/.347/.534 with 16 runs scored, 9 home runs and 24 RBI across his first 33 games before hitting the injured list.

We simply don’t know how Ohtani would’ve handled the ridicule, especially since he would have been joining the Yankees in the midst of their historic injury troubles … and he would have been among the casualties. He’s in a big market, yes, but the pressure is very much low stakes in Anaheim. The Angels are not good. They don’t have fierce rivalries with … anyone. They already have the best player in the sport. He’s playing second fiddle on his own team!

So before you go ahead and say Ohtani’s decision to sign with the Angels screwed the Yankees, perhaps it’s best to think again. While that viewpoint may not be wrong, Ohtani’s only given us limited spurts of success and hasn’t sniffed the postseason. Sure, it’d be great to have him under arbitration through the 2023 season, but there are simply too many unknowns here.

Chief among them? Ohtani being able to sustain his flash-in-the-pan 2021 success over time in the Bronx.