While it is semi-depressing to be thinking about free agency in October, it is the reality for the Angels this season. The most glaring need for the Angels remains the same as it has been for the last few seasons, reliable starting pitchers.
Since getting burned by the acquisition of C.J. Wilson what seems like a lifetime ago and up until the acquisition of Shohei Ohtani, the Angels have been over-cautious when it comes to signing big-name, ace-caliber starters, and they have paid dearly for it.
While pitchers like Garrett Richards and Tyler Skaggs have shown brilliance, they are injured far too often to be relied upon down the stretch. In addition to that, I don’t know that many people expect the Angels to re-sign Richards, leaving a significant need for a go-to starting pitcher.
This year’s free agent pitcher class is one that the Angels may want to think about taking advantage of, as it features a lot of solid options to bolster the Halos rotation, especially considering Shohei Ohtani will not pitch at all next season. I’ve trimmed the most interesting names into categories, and I’ll pick the one out of that group that the Angels could most realistically land.
The All-Stars: Patrick Corbin, Dallas Keuchel, Clayton Kershaw, David Price
My pick here is Patrick Corbin. The Angels have to be willing to spend the money, but he’s the most likely land here. An Arizona team whose 3.98 runs allowed/game was good for fourth in the majors this year, and who already have their big money investment in Zack Greinke, may not be willing to pay the price that Corbin is going to fetch on the open market this year, leaving the Angels in position to court the 29 year-old lefty, who boasted 11 Ks/9 this year along with a 5.7 WAR. It was honestly between Corbin and Keuchel because David Price and Clayton Kershaw will only be free agents if they opt out.
The Still Very Good Options: Lance Lynn, Trevor Cahill, Nathan Eovaldi, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Matt Harvey
It’s a tough call in this category, but Trevor Cahill is the most likely option for the Angels here. Cahill has had a storied career in the majors, but this year he had his second-lowest ERA of his career, and a very nice 8.2 Ks/9. He spent time with the Chicago Cubs as a reliever, and did well in that respect, but this season showed that Cahill can still produce at a consistent level, and despite turning 30 this year, could be a nice pickup for the Angels. Watch for the Angels, if they’re feeling aggressive, to make a play at Ryu, who, since coming back from injury in August, has been absolutely lights out for the Dodgers.
The 35+ Club: Charlie Morton, J.A. Happ, CC Sabathia, Edwin Jackson, Adam Wainwright, Bartolo Colon
While I would personally love it if the Angels brought back Bartolo Colon to the place where he won the AL Cy Young award in 2005, I don’t think that it is incredibly likely. I’d say a good pick for the Angels among the aging arms in this group would be Edwin Jackson. I could see him being productive on a one or two year deal for the Halos, as he had one of his best seasons as a starter in Oakland this year. Jackson started 17 games for the A’s and posted a 3.33 ERA, with almost 7 Ks/9.
Some of that, or all of it, might be wishful thinking. Maybe the Angels will go one more year trying to stick with what they have. Just know that if any of the above actually happens, you read it here first.
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