Another mediocre season has left Angel fans disappointed and wanting more from their team. And rightfully so. An 80-82 season is not good enough for a team of Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Justin Upton, and Andrelton Simmons.
Injuries and streaky performances brought the team down to Earth. Eppler and Co. have already stated 2019 will be different.
Here is my 2018-19 plan to the offseason to make the Angels a contender next year.
Needs: Manager, Front Line Starter, Shut-Down Relievers, Catcher, Second or Third Base.
Obviously, a manager needs to be selected before the team can take shape. Sosciscia’s reign is over and now a new option needs to be found. Preferably a younger, more analytical manager who knows how baseball works in 2018.
The rotation struggled most of the year from injuries and bad performance. Skaggs and Heaney have potential, but a veteran with the potential to lead a team and pitch big games is a must in 2019.
Admittedly, the bullpen came up big at times this season. Alvarez and Anderson were surprise pieces that added to a stable pen. Like the rotation, a proven veteran with leadership skills should be added to help the team in a postseason push.
Francisco Arcia and Jose Briceno project as the starting catchers in 2019. The two aren’t bad options, but they are both inexperienced at the big league level. Adding another option should be part of the to-do list this offseason.
A combination of David Fletcher, Taylor Ward, and Zack Cozart are set to man second and third base this next season. Fletcher and Ward were both streaky in their first trip to Anaheim so it would be best for the Angels to add another option in the rotation .
In-House Options: Dino Ebel, Josh Paul, Eric Chavez, Brad Ausmus.
External Options: Joe Girardi, Darin Erstad, Gary DiSarcina.
Free Agency:Patrick Corbin, Dallas Keuchel, Lance Lynn, Nathan Eovaldi, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Matt Harvey
Trade Market: Julio Teheran, Dylan Bundy, Dan Straily, Jose Urena, Sonny Gray, Tyler Chatwood
Free Agency: Adam Ottavino, Jeurys Familia, Craig Kimbrel, David Robertson, Justin Wilson, Cody Allen
Trade Market:Kyle Barraclough, Drew Steckenrider, Rasiel Iglesias, Kirby Yates
Free Agency: Yasmani Grandal, Wilson Ramos, Martin Maldonado, Jonathan Lucroy, Devin Mesoraco,
Trade Market: JT Realmuto, Francisco Cervelli, Austin Hedges, Jorge Alfaro,
Free Agency: Jed Lowrie, Asdrubal Cabrera, DJ LeMahieu, Brian Dozier, Daniel Murphy, Josh Donaldson, Eduardo Escobar
Trade Market: Matt Duffy, Devon Travis, Yangervis Solarte, Starlin Castro, Cesar Hernandez, Jose Peraza,
Moves within the Organization
Cut Paths with: Odrisamer Despaigne, Luke Farrell, Eduardo Paredes, Jabari Blash, Miguel Almonte, Deck McGuire, Alex Meyer.
Despaigne, Paredes, Blash, and McGuire proved to be ineffective in their chances throughout 2018. Cutting them would be classic "addition by subtraction." Farrell and Almonte didn’t get a real chance but shouldn’t be kept on the 40-Man roster any longer than they should be. Alex Meyer’s roster spot is being consumed by someone unproven and injured. If he had proven his worth, it’d be worth keeping him on the roster, but that’s not the case.
DFA but Try to Keep in System: Kaleb Cowart, Jose Miguel Fernandez, Parker Bridwell, Jefry Marte.
Cowart, Marte, and Fernandez are fine utility position players. But not at the Major League level. Keeping them in the system as depth for the late season push would benefit the team, but they aren’t worth the roster spot.
Untouchable Prospects: Jo Adell (#1), Griffin Canning (#2), Jahmai Jones (#4), Matt Thaiss (#5), Luis Rengifo (#10), Patrick Sandoval (#19), Buttrey (#26).
Needs Rule 5 Protection: Jose Suarez (#8), Luis Rengifo (#10), Jared Walsh (NR), Leonardo Rivas (#15), Luis Pena (#18), Joe Gatto (#30).
Prospects to Dangle as Potential Trade Bait: Brandon Marsh (MLB #3), Jose Suarez (#8), Chris Rodriguez (#9), Jesus Castillo (#12), Brennon Lund (#17).
Adell has proven to be a top prospect across his minor league career. There is a slim chance he gets a call-up in August, but 2020 is his chance to make a splash in the Bigs. Canning, Thaiss, Rengifo, and Buttrey will factor in the Angel’s plans at some point in 2019. They should not be risked being put out on any market. Suarez, Rivas, and Pena could possibly be used in a trade proposal, but Suarez is the most likely to be moved of the three. The fact that he has to be added to the 40-man could be motivation to send him off to a prospect needy team.
- Darin Erstad named Manager
- SP Nate Eovaldi 2 year, $14 million
- SP Matt Harvey, 1 year, $6 million + Vesting option with 185 innings
- RP Cody Allen 3 years, $30 million
- RP Kelvin Herrera 2 years, $26 million
- OF Austin Jackson 1 year, $2.5 million
- SD Catcher Austin Hedges for Chris Rodriguez and Osmer Morales
- CIN Infielder Jose Peraza for Jose Suarez, Joe Gatto and Nonie Williams
- 3B Danny Valencia, SP Marco Estrada, SP, Jaime Garcia, SP Chris Tillman signed to Minor League Contracts
Darin Erstad is no new name for Angel fans. He’s been coaching for the University of Nebraska for a few season now with a decent amount of success. Erstad was in the MLB until 2009 when the game was starting to change. Adding a ballsy, player-first manager will take the Angels far in 2019.
Eovaldi and Harvey aren’t the flashiest choices for the rotation. But they could be the pieces that compliment the current staff as innings eaters that give the offence a chance to win. Coming off of an excellent campaign, Eovaldi would warrant a $7 million salary. It not unreasonable for an above-average arm. Harvey didn’t have as good of a season, but could mop up innings for the Angels. He isn’t the best option for the team, but if he struggles in the rotation, he could transition to the bullpen to add depth as a long reliever.
Cody Allen was a solid closer for the Indians each year up until 2018. It wasn’t an awful season for him, but not up to his standards. The Angels should swoop in on Allen in a market with top-tier relievers and get him before the market is set too high. Kelvin Herrera would add another proven option for the back end of the pen, one who throws harder than most in the current bullpen. Herrera had one of the better seasons among free agent relievers and a $13 million salary shouldn’t be too alarming for his talent.
Michael Hermosillo didn’t do enough in his tenure to warrant a roster spot in 2019. Signing Austin Jackson would give the team a legitimate fourth outfielder with starting experience.
The San Diego Padres have tried their luck with Austin Hedges to no avail. Hedges has had 2 seasons as the primary catcher without any proof of improvement. He does offer a plus power bat and would be able to hone his craft around some of the top hitters in the league. Chris Rodriguez ranks as the Angel’s 3rd best pitching prospect but likely doesn’t have a spot in a future rotation. Shipping him out wouldn’t set the Angels back much in the prospect field. Osmer Morales had his cup of coffee with the Angels but only got to throw 10 pitches. He’s only 25 with the potential to eat some innings for the Padres and have his shot at success.
Jose Peraza is an electric player. He has great baserunning skills, an impressive glove, and the ability to hit for average. At 24-years old, there’s a chance the Reds choose not to move him, but with top prospect, Nick Senzel, about to erupt onto the scene, it’d make sense to give him a spot. There’s not a lot of young pitching on Cincinnati's roster, so Suarez could get a chance to start with the team. Gatto and Williams are both prospects still at the lower levels but could provide depth to the team and more ‘wild card’ prospects they could strike gold on.
The trio of minor league contracts would give the team some veteran depth. Because if 2018 proved anything, its that injuries are bound to happen to the pitching staff and your key pieces.
Final 40 Man Roster
- C Francisco Arcia
- C Jose Briceno
- C Austin Hedges
- 3B Zack Cozart
- INF David Fletcher
- 2B Sherman Johnson
- INF Jose Peraza
- 1B Albert Pujols
- SS Luis Rengifo
- SS Andrelton Simmons
- 1B Matt Thaiss
- UTL Jared Walsh
- 3B Taylor Ward
- RF Kole Calhoun
- CF Michael Hermosillo
- OF Austin Jackson
- CF Mike Trout
- LF Justin Upton
- RP Cody Allen
- RP Jose Alvarez
- RP Justin Anderson
- SP Jaime Barria
- RP Cam Bedrosian
- RP Ty Buttrey
- RP Taylor Cole
- SP Nate Eovaldi
- SP Matt Harvey
- SP Andrew Heaney
- RP Williams Jerez
- RP Jake Jewell
- RP Keynan Middleton
- SP/DH Shohei Ohtani
- RP Blake Parker
- SP Felix Pena
- SP JC Ramirez
- RP Noe Ramirez
- RP Hansel Robles
- SP Matt Shoemaker
- SP Tyler Skaggs
- SP Nick Tropeano
CL: Kelvin Herrera
SU: Cody Allen
RP: Jose Alvarez
C Francisco Arcia
INF David Fletcher
INF Taylor Ward
OF Austin Jackson
Notable Names in Triple-A: C Jose Briceno, 1B Matt Thaiss, RP Justin Anderson, RP Taylor Cole, SP Felix Pena, RP Noe Ramirez, RP Hansel Robles
Notable Names Rehabbing/DL: RP Keynan Middleton, RP JC Ramirez, SP Nick Tropeano.
Leaving off Anderson, Pena, and Robles could shock some fans. But Anderson and Pena are inexperienced at the big league level and could be subject to regression as the Angels are used to see. Noe Ramirez was largely ineffective and gave up far too many long balls for a team wanting to contend. I wanted to keep Thaiss on the Opening Day roster, but numbers didn’t add up. By the July 31st Trade Deadline, I expect to see him be a important part in Darin Erstad’s lineup.
I expect Middleton and JC to be up with the club in the early parts of the season, but not on Opening Day. JC may not have a spot to play when he’s healthy, but Middleton is likely to push someone out.
So how satisfied would you be with this offseason? Did I shoot too high? Unrealistic Moves? Leave your comments below and predict this team’s record.