Los Angeles Angels: Off-Season Preview – Angels in the Outfieldby B.J. Martin December 3, 2019 0 comments
Mike Trout is obviously the centerpiece of the Angels’ lineup and certainly the anchor of their outfield. Trout is also not a bad place to start when evaluating the Halos’ outfield going into this off-season. The reigning AL MVP will be joined by a couple of familiar faces next season but will be missing a long-time friend to his left. Exiting the outfield picture is Gold Glove right fielder Kole Calhoun, who hit free agency for the first time in his career. The hole that Calhoun’s departure leaves in the Angels outfield will remain to be seen.
Justin Upton was acquired at the August waiver trade deadline in 2017 and was quickly signed to a five-year, $106 million contract before he could test the free agent market. Prior to Upton’s acquisition, the left-field position had been a black hole in the Angels’ lineup. Upton filled the void admirably in his first full season with the Angels, hitting .257 with 30 home runs and 85 runs batted in. The Angels expected no less than this performance as they went into last season before disaster struck in the final games of Spring Training. Upton slid hard into the left-field wall, damaging his left foot on the play and forcing him out of the Angels’ lineup until mid-June. Upon Upton’s return, he never seemed to find his groove and continued to be bothered by the injury. The Angels are hopeful for a rebounding Upton in 2020 that would provide powerful protection for Angel hitters in the middle of their lineup.
Brian Goodwin was acquired by the Angels in the midst of Upton’s injury and proved to be a valuable piece of the Angels’ 2019 lineup and outfield. Goodwin is capable of playing all three outfield positions well and is coming off a season in which he hit .262 with 17 home runs. Goodwin is an outstanding fourth outfielder on any club and could prove to be the Opening Day right-fielder if the Angels feel Jo Adell could use more time in the minors to start the season.
Adell, one of the most highly-regarded prospects in baseball, was also hampered by early-season injuries but performed well enough at Double-A Mobile to earn a late-season promotion to Triple-A last year. Adell followed the season with a second-team All-Star performance in the Arizona Fall League before being nameddd the most valuable player on the USA Team during the Premier 12 tournament. Adell performed well against MLB talent last Spring Training but the Angels are likely to start him at Triple-A next season. This move would give Adell and Trout an extra season together in the big leagues by delaying Adell’s service time start date to mid-May.
At some point this coming May, the Angels outfield is likely to consist of Mike Trout, Justin Upton, Jo Adell, and Brian Goodwin. Those aren’t the only options in the Angels’ pockets at this time. Michael Hermosillo has shuttled between Triple-A and the Angels at times the past two years. Taylor Ward converted from third base to play left-field last year in Salt Lake and is doing so again right now in the Dominican Winter League. Two-way player Jared Walsh is primarily a first baseman but is also capable of playing the corner outfield positions as well. Infielder David Fletcher also played games in the outfield last season and can serve as additional emergency depth at the position.
Brandon Marsh was a first-team Arizona Fall League All-Star this past October and should be slated to play his first season at Triple-A this coming Spring. Marsh is viewed as a starting corner outfielder at the major-league level and could be a factor for the Angels down the stretch this coming season. Brennan Lund has also played well in the outfield between Double-A and Triple-A last season and will get an extended look this spring.
Some of the Angels’ top minor league talent is playing the outfield positions which bodes very well for the team’s future. In addition to Adell and Marsh, the Angels have 2018 first-round draft pick Jordyn Adams at Single-A level continuing to progress up through their system. D’Shawn Knowles and Trent Deveaux are a pair of Bahamian outfielders that are extremely talented and making great progress in the rookie-season levels. Cuban Orlando Martinez and 17-year old Dominican outfielder Alex Ramirez are also intriguing players to follow in the Angels system. Torii Hunter, Jr., Brandon White, William Rivera, and two-way players William Holmes and Erik Rivera among the additional depth at the outfield position coming through the Angels’ system.
Angels This Week
Monday evening was the deadline for tendering contracts and Angels decided to non-tender catcher Kevan Smith, making him a free agent. The Angels will likely sign or acquire at least one new catcher in the coming weeks. South Orange Country native Austin Romine and former Angels catcher Martin Maldonado are among the possible candidates to join Angels via free agency.
First baseman Justin Bour agreed to terms with Hanshin Tigers in Japan and will be taking his left-handed bombs overseas next season. Bour hit .172 with eight home runs and 26 runs batted in for the Angels in 2019.
Angels Down on the Farm Report
Taylor Ward made his Dominican Winter League debut for Escogido this past weekend and has played both third base and left field in his first two games. Ward will be trying to make the Angels as the third baseman or left fielder this spring.
Matt Thaiss was removed from the Tigres del Licey’s active roster this past weekend. Thaiss has struggled to get his bat going but was beginning to warm up before being removed from the active roster. There was no reported news of an injury to Thaiss and we can remain hopeful he’ll be back in the Licey lineup again soon.