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Angels notes: A bullpen makeover, MVP odds for Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani

Several new members aimed at providing relief in Anaheim

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Los Angeles Angels v Kansas City Royals Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

It was a busy couple days for Angels general manager Perry Minasian, who reworked his bullpen with a flurry of moves. In addition to signing Steve Cishek and Tony Watson, and trading for James Hoyt (who was optioned Friday), the Angels also reportedly signed Noe Ramirez, who they traded to Cincinnati over the winter for Raisel Iglesias, to a minor league deal.

As Fabian Ardaya noted at The Athletic, the makeover improved the Angels bullpen depth, even after optioning Ty Buttrey, who pitched in 27 games last season:

It bolstered the depth of a unit that should prominently feature Buttrey and Félix Peña (who will start the year on the injured list with a strained hamstring) over the course of the summer. While the organization still has room to acquire top-end relief options at the trade deadline, Monday’s moves better position the Angels to handle what is expected to be a league-wide issue — dealing with the increased innings workload as the schedule returns to 162 games after the 60-game 2020 season.

The acquisitions of Cishek, Watson, and Hoyt were also analyzed by Jake Mailhot at FanGraphs, who noticed a trend in that part of the roster:

Adding so many relievers has definitely increased the depth, but the flexibility isn’t all that improved. The first seven names on that list are either out of minor league options or good enough to hold a roster spot for the entire season. If the Angels carry eight relievers on their 26-man roster, that means the final bullpen spot will be a rotating door for whichever reliever is the freshest.

One could also argue that, at only $1 million apiece for Cishek and Watson, those are easy contracts to walk away from should the Angels decide to move on. But for now, they are here, and give the Angels a few more veterans to lean on.

The Angels’ eight-man bullpen on opening day figures to feature at least six pitchers, and maybe seven, who weren’t with the team last year, including rookie Chris Rodriguez, who was emotional upon receiving the good news. That certainly qualifies as a major makeover. Now to see if it works.

Links & notes

  • The California Department of Public Health reclassified Orange County from the red tier to the orange tier, which means Angel Stadium can operate at up to 33-percent capacity (from 20 percent) beginning Thursday. The Angels plan to release 5,000 more tickets for April home games on Wednesday, per J.P. Hoornstra at the Orange County Register.
  • Mike Trout is the favorite to win 2021 American League MVP, at +225 per Odds Checker, but teammate Shohei Ohtani is receiving the most betting action, with 33 percent of all wagers at that site betting on the two-way star at 30/1 odds.
  • In FanGraphs’ power rankings of starting pitching staffs, the Angels checked in roughly in the middle of the pack, at 17th out of 30 MLB teams.
  • J.J. Cooper at Baseball America has details on the 2021 minor league operations manual, which includes broadcasters not allowed to travel with teams this year.
  • The Sunday night finale of the Angels-White Sox series, a 5:30 p.m. PT start, will be televised exclusively by ESPN, with Matt Vasgersian, Alex Rodriguez, and Buster Olney on the