Japanese two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani announced Friday that he will join the Angels as he makes his much-anticipated transition from Nippon Professional Baseball to the Major Leagues. Ohtani joins a long list of big offseason acquisitions in Angels history, including three Hall of Famers and another player who is on
Japanese two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani announced Friday that he will join the Angels as he makes his much-anticipated transition from Nippon Professional Baseball to the Major Leagues. Ohtani joins a long list of big offseason acquisitions in Angels history, including three Hall of Famers and another player who is on the 2018 Hall of Fame ballot.
Here's a look at those deals in chronological order, as well as their impact on the franchise:
Nolan Ryan, 1971
Ryan, who would become the all-time MLB strikeout leader with 5,714 over 27 seasons, pitched his first five big league seasons with the Mets. In December 1971, New York traded the 25-year-old right-hander, along with catcher Frank Estrada, right-hander Don Rose and right fielder Leroy Stanton, to the Angels in exchange for infielder Jim Fregosi.
It was in California where the future Hall of Famer became a star, leading the American League in strikeouts in seven of eight seasons, earning five All-Star selections, and throwing four of his seven career no-hitters. He was either runner-up or third in American League Cy Young voting three times in that span.
Ryan would sign as a free agent in 1979 with the Astros, and again in 1988 with the Rangers before retiring in 1993.
Rod Carew, 1979
Carew was the 1967 AL Rookie of the Year, the 1977 AL MVP, a seven-time AL batting average champion and an All-Star in all 12 of his MLB seasons when the Angels acquired him from the Twins in February 1979. In exchange, Minnesota received catcher/outfielder Dave Engle, right-hander Paul Hartzell, left-hander Brad Havens and the sixth overall pick in the 1976 Draft, center fielder Ken Landreaux.
Carew, 33 at the time of the trade, continued to produce offensively with the Angels, though injuries would cost him much of his stint in California, including a broken hand in 1982. Carew slashed .314/.393/.392 in seven seasons for the Angels, collecting his 3,000th career hit off former Twins teammate Frank Viola on Aug. 4, 1985. He also helped the club win the AL West in 1979 (the Angels' first AL West crown) and 1982. Carew was an All-Star in six of seven seasons with the Angels, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991.
Reggie Jackson, 1982
Jackson became a postseason legend as "Mr. October" with the Yankees during the 1977 World Series, homering three times in Game 6 and five times overall to earn his second World Series MVP Award (also 1973 with the A's). In five seasons with New York, he hit 144 homers before becoming a free agent in 1982. The Angels landed the former American League MVP and 11-time All-Star on a four-year, $3.8 million contract that offseason. In his first season with California, Jackson hit .275/.375/.532 with 39 home runs, tied for most in MLB, and finished sixth in AL MVP voting.
Jackson struggled the next two seasons, slashing .210/.296/.377 with a combined 39 homers, hampered by a rib injury in 1983. In 1985, at age 39, Jackson rebounded with 27 home runs and an .847 OPS in 143 games. His production declined the next season, his last with the Angels, before he played the final season of his Hall of Fame career with the A's in 1987.
Mo Vaughn, 1998
The Angels made Vaughn the highest-paid player in baseball when they signed the first baseman to a six-year, $80 million contract in November 1998. The 30-year-old Vaughn had hit 230 home runs in eight seasons for the Red Sox to that point in his career, and was the 1995 AL MVP. He would play two seasons for the Angels before missing the entire 2001 season recovering from surgery to repair the biceps tendon and muscle on his left arm.
Though he was productive in two seasons with the Angels, hitting 69 homers and posting an .865 OPS, Vaughn was traded to the Mets for pitcher Kevin Appier after missing the '01 season. Vaughn only played in 166 games for New York before retiring.
Vladimir Guerrero, 2004
Guerrero was a four-time All-Star with 234 home runs and a .978 OPS in eight seasons with the Expos before becoming a free agent in 2003. That's when the Angels swooped in and signed the best hitter on the market to a five-year, $70 million contract. A season removed from the franchise's first World Series title, the Angels also signed notable free agents Bartolo Colon and Jose Guillen prior to landing Guerrero.
In his first season with the Angels, Guerrero was named AL MVP after slashing .337/.391/.598 with 39 home runs. He would be named an All-Star in each of his first four seasons in Anaheim, and in a six-year span with the club posted a .927 OPS with 173 homers. The Angels made the postseason in five of those six years. Guerrero is on the 2018 Hall of Fame ballot after garnering 71.7 percent of the vote last January.
Torii Hunter, 2007
Looking for another slugger to complement Guerrero in the middle of the lineup, the Angels signed Hunter to a five-year, $90 million contract in November 2007. At the time, it was the largest contract the franchise had ever handed out. The 32-year-old Hunter was a two-time All-Star and seven-time Gold Glove winner in 11 seasons with the Twins to that point. He would go on to post a 122 OPS+ over five seasons with the Angels, winning two more Gold Glove Awards and being named an All-Star twice.
Hunter signed with the Tigers as a free agent in 2012, and returned to Minnesota for his final season in 2015.
Jose Pujols, 2011
The Angels stunned the baseball world by landing the biggest free-agent prize of the 2011 offseason on a 10-year, $240 million contract on Dec. 8. Pujols was fresh off winning his second World Series title with the Cardinals (also in 2006), and already had three National League MVP Awards, nine All-Star selections and two Gold Glove Awards to his name.
Pujols' production, while still impressive, declined significantly after joining the Angels, as his OPS fell from 1.011 in his final year with St. Louis, to .906 for the Angels in 2011, to .859 in 2012. It hasn't been above .790 since, and foot injuries have hampered Pujols throughout his time in Anaheim. With Ohtani now joining the club, and as a two-way player likely to be in the designated hitter conversation, the question arises as to what Pujols' role will be going forward.
Josh Hamilton, 2012
A year after making the biggest splash of the 2011 offseason, the Angels were at it again in 2012, inking Hamilton to a five-year, $125 million deal on Dec. 15. The 2010 AL MVP and five-time All-Star, considered one of the best all-around players in the game, joined Pujols and Michael Trout with the Angels. In six seasons with the Rangers, Hamilton hit 150 home runs and helped lead the club to two consecutive AL pennants in 2010 and '11.
But Hamilton's time with the Angels wouldn't be nearly as productive. In his first season with the Halos, he slashed just .250/.307/.432 with 21 home runs in 151 games. In 2014, he only played in 89 games due to thumb and shoulder injuries, each requiring surgery. He was traded back to the Rangers the following April. Hamilton appeared in 50 games for Texas in 2015, but a left knee injury required surgery, and while rehabbing in February 2016, he injured his right knee, ending his MLB career.
Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.