MLB Offseason Preview: Los Angeles Angelsby B.J. Martin November 4, 2020 0 comments
The Los Angeles Angels finished the 2020 regular season with their fifth consecutive losing season and sixth straight year without reaching the postseason. Owner Arte Moreno wasted no time making changes by announcing the team had relieved general manager, Billy Eppler, of his duties following the final regular game of the season. Finding Eppler’s replacement is among the first tasks at hand by Moreno and company as they head into another active off-season.
Getting Mike Trout back to the postseason is the key objective for Angels organization as they have surrounded him with Anthony Rendon, Shohei Ohtani, David Fletcher, and Justin Upton in recent years. The Angels are only one or two key pieces away from putting a roster together that can not only get them to playing in October but playing deep into the playoffs.
The Angels starting pitching was among the worst in baseball. They ranked in the bottom half of American League clubs in most statistical categories. Their pitching finished 2020 with the third-worst ERA in the league. The next GM is sure to focus on upgrading both the starting rotation and bullpen this winter with prize free agent Trevor Bauer a leading target. The competition for Bauer may be too much for the Angels to bear leading to Moreno opening up his pocketbook for one of the next best free-agent starters available this offseason. The departure of free agent Andrelton Simmons opens up a spot in the starting line-up opposite versatile middle infielder David Fletcher. Expect the Angels to look to add another veteran catcher that will net better results than Jason Castro and Jonathan Lucroy the past two winters.
Keys to the Offseason
Finding Staff Ace
Dylan Bundy, Griffin Canning, Andrew Heaney, and Shohei Ohtani all figure to play role in the Angels 2021 starting rotation going into spring but the presence of a true ace has been missing for years. Pressure will be on the LA’s future general manager to secure a better option this off-season, especially they fail to sign Trevor Bauer. Masahiro Tanaka, Marcus Stroman, Charlie Morton, Jose Quintana, James Paxton, and Jake Odorizzi are among the next best starting pitchers they will target in the free-agent market. If the price is too high for these free agents the Angels could use some of their top prospects to explore the trading for one like they did with Bundy last Hot Stove.
Gold Glove shortstop Simmons is a free agent and likely to find a new home elsewhere. The versatile Fletcher is able to start at either second base or shortstop next season. Second basemen Jonathan Schoop or Kolten Wong would appear to be a good fit for the Angels next season and could likely be signed to a one or two-year contract this winter. The free-agent shortstop crop of 2021 headlined by Francisco Lindor, Trevor Story, Carlos Correa, Javy Baez, and Corey Seager and coincides with the end of Albert Pujols contract could be good enough reason for a short-term stopgap for 2021.
Finding a Closer
The Angels bullpen has been complicated in recent seasons as they have been without a consistent closer since the early days of Huston Street’s tenure with the club many seasons ago. Mike Mayers was a revelation in his first season with the Angels in 2020 but is best looked at as a set-up option for Angels. Expect the Angels to be shopping free agent veteran closers Liam Hendriks, Kirby Yates, Blake Treinen, Mark Melancon, and Ken Giles this winter. The Angels have a lot of controllable pieces in their bullpen but haven’t found that ninth inning closer in the bunch.
Marcus Stroman – 4 years, $68 million
When Trevor Bauer signs with another suitor, Moreno will turn his attention to the next best starters on the market. Stroman fits the Angels plans ideally as he had demonstrated top of the rotation stuff when healthy. He would give Angels depth needed to contend for a deep postseason run. Charlie Morton in addition to former Joe Maddon pitchers Odorizzi and Jon Lester may also be targets for the Halos.
Yadier Molina – 2 years, $26 million
The 38-year-old Gold Glove catcher has spent his entire 17 seasons as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals but the Angels are thick in his bloodlines. Both of his brothers, Bengie and Jose, were members of the 2002 Angels World Series champions and Jose is currently a member of their coaching staff. Molina may just leave St. Louis behind to join a good friend and former Cardinals teammate Pujols for his final season in Anaheim.
Jonathan Schoop – 2 years, $16 million
The 29-year-old Curacao native would fit nicely at second base opposite Fletcher and provide additional pop to the Angels powerful lineup. Schoop would be a great fit and provide a bridge to prospects Jahmai Jones and Jeremiah Jackson‘s arrival in Anaheim in the coming years. Wong at second or Didi Gregorius at shortstop are also options they will be considering if they can secure on a short-term contract.
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