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What do the Angels do when Shohei Ohtani returns?

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There’s only so much space on the 25 man roster.

MLB: Texas Rangers at Los Angeles Angels Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Angels have won four of five, admittedly against lesser competition, but wins are wins. Shohei Ohtani’s date of return has been somewhat shrouded in mystery, but nearly everyone but the cynic expects him to return by the end of May, at which point the Angels will have a decision to make. What player, or what type of player, will the Angels cut or send down to make room for Ohtani?

We’ve identified three main options:

Justin Bour

The Benefits: Justin Bour has struggled thus far in the season. He’s currently hitting .175/.275/.325/.600 and has recently been dropped to 8th in the lineup. Right now, his baserunning is suspect, but he still plays a solid first base and has picked many a ball out of the dirt.

The Detriments: Although cutting Bour is the clear-cut answer, there are reasons the Angels might be hesitant about it. They paid him millions to come in this year, and although the hitting isn’t where we’d like it to be, as recently as 2017 Bour had an OPS over .900. When he was most effective with the Marlins, he wasn’t the focus point of the offense, with sluggers like Giancarlo Stanton, JT Realmuto, and Christian Yelich in the meat of the order, while Bour sat lower. With Ohtani back, Bour would have less pressure on his shoulders. He also has a year of control left, and the Angels would love to exercise that year of control if Bour hits well, whether he remains an Angel or gets traded. The final problem is that Albert Pujols probably should not play first base every day, and with Ohtani back and Bour cut, Pujols would be the only first baseman on the roster. As much as we love the idea of Tommy La Stella playing first, he’s only played there for 0.1 major league innings, which means he’s pitched more than he’s played first. Bour might be a necessity.

Peter Bourjos/The 4th Outfielder

The Benefits: Bourjos isn’t cutting it right now. What was initially a platoon has turned into Brian Goodwin taking the reigns in left field every day while Justin Upton is out. Bourjos, although he can run and play defense, simply shouldn’t be hitting, as he has a .222 OPS. Cutting him would be an interesting way to solve our problem. The three-man bench would be Justin Bour, David Fletcher (who can moonlight as an outfielder), and Kevan Smith. All positions would be covered, although Fletcher would be doing a lot of the heavy lifting.

The Detriments: Flexibility would be extremely limited. Fletcher would be the backup for everything but catcher and first base. Although I like this role for him if Ausmus is intent on benching Fletcher, I’d much rather see him in the lineup. If they go this route, it is probably not a long term solution.

The 8th Bullpen Member

The Benefits: All the negatives listed above from cutting Bour or Bourjos are avoided. The last man in the bullpen is just that: the last man, an extra arm needed in case the arms are too spent. We keep the flexibility and return to a four man bench, realistically what baseball teams should be using. Especially needed when we travel to NL parks.

The Detriments: The rotation has been very shaky so far, and only once has a starter completed seven innings. That leaves us needing at least 3 bullpen innings a game, and very often, they are asked to go many more than that. Any extra inning game just kills the entire bullpen, and moves must be made to get fresh arms. This is also a risky move.

Poll

Who will we cut when Ohtani returns?

This poll is closed

  • 19%
    Justin Bour
    (168 votes)
  • 58%
    Peter Bourjos/4th OF
    (494 votes)
  • 21%
    8th Bullpen Member
    (183 votes)
845 votes total Vote Now

What do you think will happen? What do you want to happen? These are two distinct questions.