For two weeks and three days of the 2022-23 offseason, no team has been more active than the Los Angeles Angels. Last season Halo went 73-89 and have, and Shohei Otani one year before free will. The club has been busy this winter as they hope to end the off-season drought in 2023 and convince Otani to re-sign on a long-term contract.
Here are the Angels’ known off-season moves to date:
- Signed by LHP Tyler Anderson for .
- Acquired by IF Gio Urshela of the Minnesota Twins for .
- Purchased Hunter Renfro from the Milwaukee Brewers for .
One quality starting pitcher and two middle positioners probably aren’t enough to get the Angels into the playoffs, but it’s only the beginning, and even middle position players represent a significant improvement for the Angels. In 2022, the bar has been set quite low at several positions. Guys like Renfro and Urshela are definitely considered upgraded.
“I would like to thank the owners for letting me do this” GM Perry Minasian told MLB.com after Renfro trade. “We’ve been very active and it’s not even Thanksgiving yet. We turned to rotation early, we were able to work on the inside field. It’s been a crazy 10-12 days, but now we can fix the removed fields issue with a quality guy, so we’re really excited.”
The Angels have shown us that Otani and Mike Trout cannot do it alone. The two need help, and the Angels still have their eyes on the World Series champion Houston Astros and the Seattle Mariners in western Alabama. Minasyan & Co. did a great job in the first days of the off-season. However, there is still a lot of work to be done. That’s what’s left on Minasyan’s to-do list.
1. Add another starter
The Angels have an excellent rotation with growth potential. Otani is a real ace, and while I’d bet Anderson throwing 178 2/3 innings again with a 2.57 ERA, its improved replacement this is a reason to believe that he will continue to be better than average. Patrick Sandoval may be the best pitcher no one talks about. Jose Suarez and Reed Detmers show promise in 2022.
Sixth place – the Angels are using a six-man rotation because of Otani – is a little worrisome. Lefty Tucker Davidson came in last year in exchange for Raizel Iglesias and looked at him but wasn’t impressed. Jaime Barria seems to have found a home in the bullpen. Anaheim’s rotation depth chart looks something like this:
- RHP Shohei Otani
- LHP Tyler Anderson
- LHP Patrik Sandoval
- LHP Jose Suarez
- LHP Reid Detmers
- LHP Tucker Davidson (no options and must pass a waiver to advance to Triple-A)
- RHP Chase Silset (2021 11th round pick was sent to the big leagues in 2022)
- RHP Griffin Canning (did not compete as of July 2021 due to multiple injuries)
- RHP Chris Rodriguez (did not compete as of August 2021 due to shoulder surgery)
The top three are strong and at least Suarez and Detmers have done enough in 2022 to earn more attention in 2023. After that, things get a little risky. Davidson somehow appears on the MLB roster. The next player after that will either be Silseth, who was badly hurt in his cameo last year and hasn’t competed in Triple-A yet, or Canning or Rodriguez, who are seriously injured. It’s not great.
While buying at the top of the market (Jacob de Grom? Carlos Rodon? Justin Verlander?) would be the preferred path, I would bet the Angels won’t. They already have two huge dollar contracts (Traut and Anthony Rendon) and I assume they will run out of renewal options with Ohtani before issuing a third.
Luckily, there are plenty of veteran free agents out there with affordable one-year contracts. Johnny Cueto, for example, threw in 158 1/3 innings for the Chicago White Sox in 2022. He turns 37 in February and has over 2,000 innings to his credit. Cueto is one of those veterans who would benefit from a six-man rotation and be relatively cheap.
The ageless Rich Hill said he wanted to keep performing. Corey Kluber will turn 37 shortly after opening and is in the same boat as Cueto. Does it make sense to throw the dice to someone like Mike Clevinger, who has shown top-notch snatches in the past? The thing is, you will never have enough innings, and available veterans are available to improve that spot in the #6 rotation.
2. Find a stop
It’s tricky because the Angels have three players who could theoretically play on short notice and should play every day: Urshela, David Fletcher and Luis Rengifo. However, Urshela is a third baseman, not a shortstop, and Rengifo is a second baseman, not a shortstop. Fletcher had health issues in 2022 and hasn’t scored at all for the last two seasons (71 OPS+).
In a way, the Angels can plausibly say that they have three stops. Four if you count Andrew Velasquez, playing with gloves and no bat. From another, more accurate point of view, the Angels don’t actually have a shortstop. Assuming the top of the free agent market (Xander Bogarts, Carlos Correa, Dansby Swanson, Trea Turner) is not an option, how do you solve the shortstop problem without completely blocking Fletcher, Rengifo or Urshela?
The market for free agent shortstops outside of the big four is small (Elvis Andrus, Jose Iglesias, etc.) andinclude Willie Adams (The Brewers), Nick Ahmed (Arizona Diamondbacks), Isaiah Keener-Falef (New York Yankees), and Amed Rosario (Cleveland Guardians). Adames and Rosario may be out of the Angels’ price range in terms of prospects. Ahmed and Kiner-Falefa will not move forward much. I’m not sure they deserve serious attention.
Player I would ask about: Jorge Mateo. Mateo offers a Homer Strength of 10-15 and a Steal Ability of 30 and is considered an Elite Defender. He will also swing and miss, and sometimes give away the balls, but Mateo’s good sides So good. He can change the game with a single swing, steal an important bag and save time on the field. Mateo also has field experience, so he could move into a super useful role if one of the current candidates made it into the roster.
Mateo is seen as an indispensable asset to the Baltimore Orioles because prospect Gunnar Henderson is poised to take on the day-to-day role in 2023, and because prospects Kobe Mayo, Connor Norby and Jordan Westburg are knocking on the door at Triple-A. The short stop is the depth position for O. If you can stomach smells, Mateo makes sense for the Angels.
Minasyan needs to at least explore the short-stop market this offseason. His domestic shortstop candidates aren’t doing well, and going from 73 wins in 2022 to a playoff spot in 2023 will require upgrades all around. Renfro and Urshela are a good start in player position. Finding a legitimate shortstop will also go a long way next season.
3. Strengthen the bullpen