5 Free Agents the Los Angeles Angels Should Consider Signingby B.J. Martin February 6, 2020 0 comments
The Angels have been busy this off-season in both free agency and in the trade market. After missing on the top three pitching targets, they signed free agents Anthony Rendon, Jason Castro, and Julio Teheran. They also worked out trades with opposing clubs for Dylan Bundy, Joc Pederson, and Ross Stripling to strengthen their starting rotation and outfield depth. Now, with less than a week until pitchers and catchers report to Arizona, there are still a few intriguing free agents the Angels could still look to bring on-board.
The 2020 Angels squad currently appears to have more depth than last year but there are still some areas that could benefit from additions. Some of these could occur at the end of spring as players from other clubs are released or moved. Here are five current free agents that would be interesting candidates to consider bringing in to battle for a spot on this year’s Opening Day roster.
The 26-year-old shortstop has been an All-Star, won a World Series, and is looking for a new beginning and opportunity to rebuild his reputation. Russell’s career was derailed in 2017 by domestic violence charges by his ex-wife that ultimately led to a 40-game suspension by MLB last season. Russell returned to play 82 games for the Cubs last season but the weight of negative publicity and tarnished reputation eventually led to his release by the club. Joe Maddon managed Russell for four seasons in Chicago and with the recent departure of utility infielder Luis Rengifo, the Angels could look at Russell as a back-up infielder this season. A change of scenery with a familiar coach and an opportunity to get himself back to an All-Star caliber performer could be in order. Also, while the Angels are hoping to sign Andrelton Simmons to an extension, having a young player like Russell could provide more options for a possible future without Simba.
McHugh won 19 games as a starter for the Astros in 2015 and is one year removed from a season in which he pitched 58 games out of the Houston bullpen with a 1.99 ERA. The Angels’ pitching staff is shaping up to consist of three to five closers who on any given day could pitch the sixth, seventh, eighth, or ninth innings. Adding McHugh to a bullpen with Hansel Robles, Ty Buttrey, and Keynan Middleton would benefit the team as they push towards the post-season in 2020. It’s not clear whether or not McHugh is looking for an opportunity to start again or content with his role as a reliever. If the latter is the case, McHugh could be a great value addition at this point in the off-season.
Another former Maddon disciple from both his days in Tampa Bay and Chicago, Ben Zobrist finds himself currently unemployed. Besides the allure of continuing to play for Joe Maddon, Zobrist’s ability to play infield and outfield spots makes his potential addition to the Angels compelling. Zobrist is a father of young children and has recently gone through a divorce, so his heart may not be at a place where he’s willing to keep playing or be far away from his Tennessee home. Still, Zobrist brings a lot of heart to the game and would be a good piece for a pennant contender in 2020. Zobrist is 38 years old but still hit .260 last season in limited play for the Cubs while appearing at seven different positions for the club. During his career, Zobrist has played 20 or more games at all three outfield positions.
The 32-year-old Castillo has found himself in the role of a back-up catcher the past three seasons with the Orioles and White Sox and there is a need for that on this club. The Angels currently have Jason Castro signed as their starting catcher with limited experience in Anthony Bemboom and Jose Briceno in their organization as other options at the position. While it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Angels wait and see who becomes available on waivers after Spring Training, Castillo offers the club a veteran backstop to evaluate in Arizona. Castillo has power at the plate having hit 12 home runs last season across 230 at-bats; he averages 22 home runs over every 162 games throughout his career. Castillo is not the best defender but he would provide depth at a position sorely in need of warm bodies.
Holt is the best true super-utility player left on the free agent market. Holt played all four infield and left and center field positions while hitting .297 for the Red Sox last year. The 32-year-old is a .271 lifetime hitter and will provide any club the valuable versatility for MLB clubs that have an extra roster spot added in 2020. David Fletcher fills this role now for the Angels after the signing of Rendon has taken his everyday spot at third base away in 2020. The ability to have the flexibility of a Brock Holt on their roster would give the Halos added flexibility with roster selections and two players that can fill in at multiple positions when needed.