This winter has been fairly quiet for the Angels, something that doesn’t necessarily come as a surprise considering they are, at the moment, only $47 million below the 2019 luxury tax threshold.
However, where people thought the Halos might make the most noise this winter was addressing bullpen depth and talent, but as of today they have only added one arm for their bullpen, Luis Garcia, and the jury is still out as to whether or not he will be on the 40-man roster for 2019.
The Angels’ bullpen ranked 26th in saves for 2018, so it’s no secret that the team could use a lot of help in the later innings. Based on limited action from last season, the return of Keynan Middleton and projected emergence of Ty Buttrey will help a great deal in that department, but the Angels still lack an ace closer, and in today’s game, that is one thing that is necessary if a team wants to be a contender once October rolls around.
Names like Craig Kimbrel and Sergio Romo are still floating out there, however the price they would fetch may be just out of the Angels’ reach. The Angels may very well be waiting out the market for the likes of Kimbrel and Romo as well. Neither has been offered a deal close to what they were asking for at the start of the winter, and Billy Eppler may just be waiting for either one of those pitchers to settle for whatever kind of deal the Angels can afford to offer later in the offseason. That’s a perfect recipe for missing out on a superbly talented closer, but it just might work out for the Angels.
It is also possible that Eppler is willing to test out what the duo of Middleton and Buttrey are able to do in a full season of work, and see if he can spend the remaining $47 million elsewhere. In addition to that, if there is one thing that can be taken away from the little we have heard from Brad Ausmus, it’s that he is a guy who genuinely has a lot of faith in what the Angels have in house, both on their major league roster and in their farm system.
Whether it’s about money or perceived necessity, there has to be some reason that the Angels are holding out on this offseason’s extraordinary free-agent reliever group. With just under one month until the first pitchers and catchers report, Spring Training is right around the corner. So, if there was a time to turn up the heat on the hot stove in Anaheim, it’s now.
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