While the usual mainstays, like Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun, will occupy spots on the 25-man roster, there is quite a bit of turnover from last year’s Opening Day roster. Only nine players from the 2018 Opening Day roster stuck around to make it onto the 2019 roster: Trout, Calhoun, Andrelton Simmons, Albert Pujols, Zack Cozart, Tyler Skaggs, Noe Ramirez, Luke Bard and Cam Bedrosian.
Here is a full breakdown of the rest of the roster, which includes 11 new players that the organization brought in over the offseason. Included for each group of players are projections from Fangraphs on where the Angels positions projects to rank in 2019.
Trevor Cahill (1)
Matt Harvey (2)
Tyler Skaggs (3)
Felix Peña (4)
Chris Stratton (5)
No Andrew Heaney hurts right now, with the southpaw slated to miss the start of the season with elbow inflammation. He’s still projected to be the Angels best starter, which is not exactly an encouraging sign given he may miss some of the first month. On top of that, Jaime Barria, who had a 3.41 ERA in 129 1/3 innings last year, was surprisingly optioned to Triple-A.
Replacing Barria is Chris Stratton, who was acquired early Tuesday morning from the San Francisco Giants. Angels Manager Brad Ausmus confirmed that Stratton will be in the rotation and the 28-year-old will try to provide decent, albeit boring, innings. Stratton is a high-spin rate guy, the type of pitcher Angels General Manager Billy Eppler has looked for in the past.
Tyler Skaggs and Felix Peña, the latter whom threw 92 2/3 decent innings last year, will complement newcomers Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill to round out the rotation. The Angels rotation already projected as a below-average unit and Heaney’s injury and Barria’s surprising demotion makes this group even more questionable.
If anyone falters, the Angels have depth coming later in the season when guys like Nick Tropeano and J.C. Ramirez return from injuries. On top of those guys, top prospects Griffin Canning and Jose Suarez are practically MLB-ready and could make a significant push for rotation time later this season.
Cody Allen (6)
Ty Buttrey (7)
Hansel Robles (8)
Luis Garcia (9)
Justin Anderson (10)
Cam Bedrosian (11)
Noe Ramirez (12)
Luke Bard (13)
Projected as a bottom 10 unit, there is a ton of volatility with this group given there isn’t a whole lot of reliability and a plethora of arms with high-octane stuff. Only Ramirez didn’t average a fastball harder than 93 mph last year while three of the relievers threw 97+ mph (Robles, Garcia, Anderson).
Stuff doesn't always equate to success but there are some intriguing arms with upside. Buttrey impressed in a short 16 1/3 inning stint last year (0.8 Wins Above Replacement) and looks to compete with Allen as the best reliever in this bullpen. Allen saw declines in major categories last year but was one of baseball’s best relievers from 2013-2017.
Robles, Garcia and Anderson are the flamethrowers who have some decent job security while Bedrosian, Ramirez and Bard could be on a short leash in they start the season poorly. If any of the arms flail, the club will resort to arms such as the newly acquired Sam Freeman John Curtiss, Jake Jewell and Jeremy Rhoades. Injured pitchers Keynan Middleton, J.C. Ramirez, Taylor Cole and Nick Tropeano could play roles later in the year.
This unit is rolling eight deep for now and this could benefit the team as they try to maximize each pitcher with less innings on a given night. They might not be quite as drastic and utilize “openers” like Tampa Bay does but there could be some different pitcher usage than we’ve seen the club use in recent years.
Jonathan Lucroy (14)
Kevan Smith (15)
Gone are players such as Martin Maldonado, Rene Rivera and Francisco Arcia, who will be replaced by newcomers Jonathan Lucroy and Kevan Smith. While Lucroy and Smith project to be decent enough with the bat, their defensive shortcomings make this group a real question mark and a project bottom five group according to Fangraphs.
A bounce back is possible for Lucroy, who is now three years removed from his last productive season, but he’s likely more of a fringe starter whose better suited in a backup role. This is one area the club will likely need to address with a long-term option in the near future. If anyone falters or gets hurt, Jose Briceno will likely be next in line for MLB time while prospect Jack Kruger has an outside shot to snag time later in the year.
Justin Bour (16)
Albert Pujols (17)
David Fletcher (18)
Tommy La Stella (19)
Andrelton Simmons (20)
Zack Cozart (21)
Shohei Ohtani’s absence really makes this whole group look a lot weaker, and that includes the fourth best projected shortstop in Andrelton Simmons. After back-to-back five-win seasons, Simmons is once again projected for a strong season and makes for a borderline MVP candidate.
Bour and Pujols don’t have a rosy outlook at first base as they’re projected to be the fourth worst group in baseball. Neither player adds any value defensively or on the bases and they might combine for below league-average production offensively. Matt Thaiss, who had a killer spring, could steal playing time sooner rather than later.
Cozart and Fletcher will likely handle the bulk of duties at second and third base, although the injury to Justin Upton may thrust Fletcher into a super utility role with some outfield time. Even with a projected bounce back for Cozart, the third base group projects as a bottom 10 unit as does the second base position. La Stella is a useful bench piece but he’s not an ideal fit to receive significant at bats given his limited skillset.
When Ohtani returns in the next few months, this group of players looks significantly better as he is projected to be one of the top designated hitters in baseball. On top of that projection, he’ll also steal playing time away from Bour and Pujols, which will benefit the club.
Mike Trout (22)
Kole Calhoun (23)
Peter Bourjos (24)
Brian Goodwin (25)
Mike Trout’s 10-year, $360 million extension will keep him in an Angels uniform for life and makes the Angels outfield an elite unit for the foreseeable future. Trout’s 9.2 win projection is unsurprisingly the highest of any player in baseball and there’s no reason to think he won’t hit that mark again in his age 27 season.
Calhoun was historically bad in the first half last year and turned it on in the second half but still finished with zero WAR. His 1.9 win projection makes him a bottom 10 right fielder and his inconsistent 2018 season makes him a much bigger wild card than he’s been in years past.
Upton has a case of turf toe and will miss the start of the season, which means Peter Bourjos and the recently acquired Brian Goodwin may both receive time in left field to start the year. Bourjos is far removed from any meaningful MLB production while Goodwin has been decent the past few years, giving Goodwin an edge for more playing time.
If this group doesn’t cut it, some combination of Michael Hermosillo, Jarret Parker, Cesar Puello or possibly even David Fletcher will get the next shot at at bats. Top prospects Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh could get a cup of tea later this year but they likely have 2020 ETAs.