The Los Angeles Angels shocked the baseball world in 2017 when they came to terms with Shohei Ohtani on a multiyear deal. The Angels also were close to signing another standout international prospect in that year.
Julio Rodriguez was among the most coveted talents of the international signing period in 2017. The versatile outfielder from the Dominican Republic ended up joining the Seattle Mariners organization for a $1.75 million bonus. He was listed in the top 10 in MLB.com’s prospect rankings for the 2017-2018 international signing period.
The Mariners had to go all out to sway Rodriguez to join the organization.
During a press conference on Saturday for Rodriguez’s mega contract extension agreement with the Mariners, team president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto revealed that the Angels were close to signing the then 16-year-old prospect. In the end, Seattle swooped in with a top offer to sign him. Overall, the move was quite a franchise-altering one for the club.
“What a seismic shift that turned out to be, particularly in our division,” Dipoto said.
Had the Angels signed Rodriguez, they would have then faced a dilemma over just who between him and Mike Trout would patrol center field. Still, a lineup featuring Trout, Rodriguez and Ohtani would have given opposing pitchers quite a headache when facing the Angels.
Rodriguez has since lived up to the high expectations that were placed on him when he took his talents to the Mariners. He is the odds favorite to win the 2022 American League Rookie of the Year Award, as he has so far recorded 20 home runs and 64 RBI in 109 games played.
Seattle currently holds the second spot in the American League wild-card standings thanks to its 69-57 record. In the big picture, it is set for multiple crucial games over the remainder of the ongoing campaign. Among them, it will have a combined five straight home contests against the reigning World Series champions in the Atlanta Braves and the San Diego Padres next month. But for now, the AL West side will have six consecutive road matchups against the Detroit Tigers and the Cleveland Guardians following its ongoing four-game home set with the latter squad.