As pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in about a month or so, the Angels have addressed some of their most pressing needs to compete in 2019.
Billy Eppler was busy wheeling and dealing with low cost moves that will hopefully help the Angels compete with the Astros and A’s in the AL West. These are the four biggest moves that the Angels general manager conducted this winter:
- The Angels acquired signed Matt Harvey (1-year, $11 million) and Trevor Cahill (1-year, $9 million) as reinforcements for their starting rotation.
- The Halos traded for Tommy LaStella in exchange for cash considerations in order to have a solid left handed bat on the bench. He will also compete with David Fletcher, Zack Cozart, and Taylor Ward for everyday at bats.
- They also picked up a left handed batter for their lineup (Justin Bour at 1-year, $2.5 million) so they could give Albert Pujols days off when he can’t play first base. Bour was also added to the roster because if he has an amazing year, it would possibly push Pujols out of the lineup if he continues to decline offensively.
- The Angels signed Justin Lucroy (1-year, $3.3 million), who will be the primary catcher for the Halos in 2019. Jose Briceño and Kevan Smith will compete for the backup position in Spring Training.
So, as you see, there have been many changes, but the Angels still have some work to do. What’s next? The Angels still need to get more pitching. The Angels could use another starter. Their ace (Garrett Richards) left for the Padres, although he might not even have been ready until 2020. Also, the Halos could also use some insurance in case they have another nightmare virus of injuries to their starters like they’ve had the last two seasons.
Their rotation consists of Andrew Heaney and Tyler Skaggs, who have shown shades of brilliance at times, but have also given up their share of home runs at other times. To add to that, they are injury prone. The Angels picked up Matt Harvey (also injury prone), who is still trying to resurrect his career and Trevor Cahill is fairly reliable but a #4 starter at best. That leaves the Halos with Jaime Barria, who was the most consistent starter and possibly Felix Peña, who was a pleasant surprise as a starter last season. Shohei Ohtani won’t be ready to pitch in 2019 and J.C. Ramirez may or may not be ready this season as he still recovers from Tommy John surgery. But with the additions of Harvey and Cahill, it doesn’t seem like Billy Eppler will shell out the cash for Dallas Keuchel. Keuchel will command a 5-year contract and with the Angels having a weaker bullpen than 2018 up to this point, the Halos will probably pick up at least one reliever before the season begins.
Why is the bullpen the Angels weakest leak at the moment? First, the Halos lost Blake Parker to free agency and Parker was one guy that helped close games last season (14 saves). The Halos also traded lefty Jose Alvarez (2.71 ERA and 1.16 WHIP) for right hander Luis Garcia, who had a 6.07 ERA last season. Eppler tends to think Garcia just ran into a lot of bad luck last season since he averaged 10 strikeouts per 9 innings and had a 3.51 FIP. There’s a lot of potential in Garcia, but at this point in time, that’s all he is. The Angels also lost veteran reliever Jim Johnson to free agency. Therefore the Angels will have to rely on young and unproven Justin Anderson, Ty Buttrey, Taylor Cole, and Williams Jerez. They also have Cam Bedrosian, who has had multiple chances to take over the closer role, but is still unreliable to this point. Next there’s Hansel Robles, who was a pleasant surprise last season, yet he doesn’t have a great track record. Finally, their strongest reliever Keynan Middleton is still recovering from Tommy John surgery soon. At this point, the Halos are without a left-handed reliever and a dominant closer.
There are many relievers left on the market, but there are only five quality arms that the Angels should focus on. If they can’t get any of the ones below, then they can just call up some guys from AAA and have them compete for a roster spot in Spring Training:
- Craig Kimbrel- The best closing option available. He had 42 saves and had a 2.42 ERA. He also had 96 strikeouts in 62.1 innings.
- Adam Ottaviano- He has the best slider and the best WAR (2.0) on the market. He had a 2.43 ERA in 77.2 innings last season with the Rockies.
- Cody Allen- He used to be lights out with Cleveland but had a rough season last season since he had a 4.70 ERA with 5 blown saves. But he still had 27 saves.
- Tony Sipp- He’s a lefty, had a 1.86 ERA, and a 1.03 WHIP last season with the Astros in 38.2 innings.
- Oliver Perez- Although he’s 37, he had a great season in 2018 (1.39 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 32.1 innings) with Cleveland. He’s also a lefty. Both he and Sipp would be upgrades over Alvarez.
Featured Image: Gregory Bull/AP Photo