The Angels made another push to better position themselves in the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes on Wednesday night, acquiring $1 million in international slot money from the Twins in exchange for outfield prospect Jacob Pearson.
The Angels now have $2.315 million to offer Ohtani, the third-highest amount among the seven remaining suitors for the Japanese two-way star. The Rangers ($3.535 million) still top the pack and are followed by the Mariners ($2.557 million), who also acquired $1 million in international slot money from the Twins on Wednesday. The Cubs, Dodgers, Padres and Giants can only offer Ohtani a $300,000 bonus.
To keep pace with the Mariners and narrow the gap with the Rangers, the Angels gave up Pearson, who received a $1 million signing bonus after being selected in the third round of the 2017 Draft in June.
Pearson was ranked as the Angels' No. 5 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com, but the club has a surplus of outfield prospects in its system, including Jo Adell (No. 1) and Jahmai Jones (No. 2).
It marked the second time in the last week that the Angels have aimed to bolster their pursuit of Ohtani by expanding their international bonus pool, as they also added $1.21 million in a trade with the Braves on Nov. 30. Angels general manager Billy Eppler acknowledged at the time that the money was geared toward making a run at the 23-year-old Ohtani, who has become the most coveted free agent this winter due to his affordability and his dual profile as a hard-throwing right-handed ace and a left-handed slugger.
"This deal puts us in a stronger position in our pursuit of Shohei Ohtani," Eppler said last Thursday. "This money was acquired with an eye toward that."
Ohtani is expected to be nearing a decision after meeting with all seven finalists in Los Angeles this week. Not much about his preferences is known, though he is believed to prefer West Coast teams in smaller markets.