Billy Eppler said the Angels will actively seek pitching via trades and free agency, with an emphasis on “reliability."— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) October 1, 2018
It’s also interesting that if you read that OC Register article, Eppler says there are only 3 pitchers he considers to be locks. I imagine those three come from the group of Andrew Heaney, Jaime Barria, Tyler Skaggs, and Felix Pena. One of those guys plus Tropeano, Shoemaker and others are going to have to earn it.
Trade scenarios could be another whole article and certainly there are trade options that Eppler is likely to pull off that we haven’t thought of, so I’ll just focus on some of the free agent options for now.
Starting Pitcher free agents
There will be A LOT of free agent starters hitting the market this off season ranging from age 28 (Drew Hutchison) to age 46 (Bartolo Colon), and with 2018 salaries that ranges from league minimum to 21 million (James Shields).
Eppler is likely going to shy away from injury prone (or recent injury) guys like Garrett Richards, so I’m not even going to include them on this list.
James Shields - He’s in no way going to get any sort of large contract and his 2018 campaign was improved over 2016 and 2017. He’s been a pretty consistent performer and threw 204.2 innings this year but you can’t expect much better than a 4.5 or so ERA from him next year.
Lance Lynn - His innings were down a little but he still hit 156, albeit with a 4.77 ERA and 1.526 WHIP.
(maybe) Pricey Dudes:
Most of these guys are coming off good enough years that you won’t see them sign for less than 15 million per year. That’s a hefty chunk when you have about 30 million to work with, but I wouldn’t mind seeing one expensive and reliable veteran get added to the roster.
Dallas Keuchel - While he wasn’t as good as in 2017, he’s a strong and talented pitcher that can throw a lot of innings and is entering his age 31 season.
Charlie Morton - Coming off a career year and going into his age 35 season, Morton will probably still fetch good money - but a shorter contract. He also hasn’t thrown a ton of innings historically and hit 167 this year - his highest since 171 in 2011 for the Pirates.
Patrick Corbin - A lot teams may be bidding on this guy. He’s only 29 years old and coming off a 3.15 ERA All Star season. Over the past 3 years he’s thrown 155, 189, and 200 innings. I’d love to see this pickup if the Angels could afford him.
J.A. Happ - He’s going to be 36 years old so comes with a bit more risk but this is a career 3.90 ERA guy who struck out 193 over 177 innings this year. Like Morton, He might get a higher priced but shorter deal.
Anibal Sanchez - Another older (35 next year) pitcher but he’s been pretty reliable. However, he only threw 105 innings last year and 136 this year. He ptiched to a 2.83 ERA in 2018 - the best he’s had by far since 2013 and he struck out 135 over 136 innings.
Nathan Eovaldi - He missed all of 2017 and threw 111 innings this year, but he’s the kind of guy Eppler likes. By that I mean he throws hard and topped out at 101 MPH on his fastball this year, while regularly throwing around 97-98.
Relief Pitcher free agents
There are certainly some guys like Craig Kimbrel, Andrew Miller, and Zach Britton who will probably fetch top dollar but I’d be shocked if the Angels spent that kind of money on one bullpen piece. Maybe if we were one bullpen piece away from the World Series they’d spend on a guy like that, but alas - we are not. There are a lot of younger relievers - about 25 under age 32 alone, so the Angels don’t need any of those 35+ relievers unless they see really strong value there.
Jeurys Familia - Billy loves those guys that throw hard though his price could be too steep. Familiar has a career 2.73 ERA with 369 Ks in 352 innings. He’s only given up 16 home runs in his entire career (Bedrosian gave up 7 just this year). Price aside, he’d be a huge piece the Angels could use to close out games.
Joe Kelly - He was born in Anaheim and is coming off a down 4.39 ERA year. Could be a nice high velocity add if the price were right - which it may be.
Cody Allen - Didn’t do himself any favors leading in to free agency with his 4.70 ERA and 1.358 WHIP but if Nagy thinks he can work him, he comes with a good track record prior to 2018. I certainly wouldn’t overpay for him though.
Kelvin Herrera - Can still bring the heat but his price may not be worth it. He had a 2.44 ERA and converted 17 out of 19 saves but his second half of the season tailed off dramatically.
Adam Ottavino - Made only 10 million of the past 3 years and was one of the nastiest relievers in 2018. He’s going to get a big pay bump but could be one bullpen piece that would be worth it.
Shawn Kelley - Think of the memes if he pitches after Justin Anderson. I’ve give you a minute on that one. He was pretty lights out in 2018 and could be an option if the A’s don’t re-sign him first.
David Roberston - Now 33 years old, he may get 10+ million per year and I’m not sure I’d want the Angels to take that risk.
Thoughts on any of the above guys? Who do you want? Who should we not touch with a 30 foot pole? Weigh in below!