Offseason In Review: Los Angeles Angels


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Instead of the big splashes they sought in previous offseasons, the Angels opted to spread their resources around to various mid-market additions. When combined with the star power already present on the roster, the club is in good position to be competitive for 2023, though they will have to avoid falling short of expectations again. Beyond this year, there is much uncertainty. Owner Arte Moreno is no longer pursuing a sale of the club, but Shohei Ohtani’s free agency is now just about eight months away.

Major League Signings

2022 spending: $37MM
Total spending: $78.25MM

Option Decisions

  • None

Trades And Claims


  • None

Notable Minor League Signees

Notable Losses

The Angels have made plenty of big splashes over the past decade or so, signing marquee players like Albert Pujols, Anthony Rendon and Josh Hamilton, as well as acquiring and extending Justin Upton. When combined with Mike Trout and Ohtani, there’s been no shortage of stars in Anaheim. But a lack of depth for injuries has often prevented the club from capitalizing on all that talent. Their last winning season was 2015 and their last postseason appearance was the year prior to that. This offseason, they seemed to try a different tack, signing three different players to modest multi-year deals, as well as a few one-year contracts and trades for players with one year of remaining control.

The first significant move was signing left-hander Tyler Anderson. The 33-year-old was hurt for much of the early part of his career, only reaching the 115-inning mark once by the end of 2020. He then had a healthy and decent season in 2021, posting a 4.53 ERA over 167 innings between the Pirates and Mariners. After signing with the Dodgers for 2022, he went on to have easily the best season of his career. He logged 178 2/3 innings, a career high, and also got his ERA all the way down to 2.57. His 19.5% strikeout rate and 40.1% ground ball rate were both a few ticks shy of average, but he kept runners off the basepaths with a tiny 4.8% walk rate.

Based on that strong season, the Dodgers extended a $19.65MM qualifying offer to him. That must have proved pretty tempting for Anderson, considering he made $8MM in 2022 and was never higher than $2.5MM in any season prior to that. However, before his decision window was even up, the Angels swooped in and gave him a three-year, $39MM deal. That was a big development for the club, as the last time they gave a multi-year deal to a free-agent starter was a two-year deal for Joe Blanton going into 2013. There’s some risk here for the Angels, as Anderson’s track record of success is not long. He was also likely helped by a .256 batting average on balls in play last year, but his 3.31 FIP and 4.04 SIERA still indicate he’s a fine addition to the middle of their rotation.

The starting rotation has often been one of the weaker points of the roster in Anaheim, though that might not be the case this year. The club had some young pitchers take steps forward last year and seem positioned to go into 2023 on strong footing there. Back in September, MLBTR’s Steve Adams looked at the developments of lefties Patrick Sandoval, Reid Detmers and Jose Suarez. Sandoval finished the year with a 2.91 ERA over 27 starts, Suarez a 3.96 over 20 starts and two relief outings, and Detmers a 3.77 ERA over 25 starts.

Those three lefties figure to be in the club’s Opening Day rotation alongside Anderson and Ohtani, giving them a solid front five. The club has gone with a six-man rotation in recent years in order to lighten Ohtani’s overall workload, but that might not be the case this year. Manager Phil Nevin recently suggested they could go with a five-man group for much of the year, only occasionally leaning on a swingman when needed. Ohtani had Tommy John in October 2018, which wiped out his 2019 and most of his 2020. He got up to 130 1/3 innings in 2021 and then 166 last year. Perhaps he could push himself even farther this year, lessening the need for a strict sixth starter. Pitcher injuries are fairly inevitable, however, and the club will eventually need to turn to another starter. Options on the 40-man include Tucker Davidson, Griffin Canning, Chase Silseth and Chris Rodriguez.

In addition to adding Anderson to the rotation, the club also bolstered its bullpen with right-hander Carlos Estévez and left-hander Matt Moore. Estévez has been on a good run over the past four years, outside of a rough showing in the shortened 2020 season. Since the start of 2019, he’s made 223 appearances with a 4.28 ERA, 23.9% strikeout rate, 8.2% walk rate and 38.4% ground ball rate. Considering he played his home games at Coors Field and posted a 7.50 ERA in 2020, that’s a pretty good stretch on the whole, and the velocity on his heater and woeful results against his offspeed pitches in 2022 could point to further upside.

As for Moore, his attempts to continue as a starter didn’t go well in recent years, posting an overall 5.26 ERA from 2015 to 2021. But a full-time move to the bullpen last year seemed to suit him, as he tossed 74 innings with a 1.95 ERA, 27.3% strikeout rate, 12.5% walk rate and 43.9% ground ball rate. He likely won’t sustain a .257 batting average on balls in play or 81.1% strand rate, but his 2.98 FIP and 3.69 SIERA still point to a solid season overall.

Estévez might jump into the closer’s role that was vacated when the Halos dealt Raisel Iglesias to Atlanta at last year’s deadline. However, he could have some competition from Jimmy Herget, who seemed to have a breakout last year. Herget took over the closer’s role with Iglesias gone, finishing the year with nine saves and a 2.48 ERA. Estévez, Herget and Moore should be joined at the back end of the club’s bullpen by veteran holdovers Ryan Tepera and Aaron Loup.

On the position player side of things, the Angels made three key upgrades. Gio Urshela was added to the infield, Hunter Renfroe to the outfield, while Brandon Drury can potentially help in both areas. Urshela was acquired from the Twins so that Minnesota can make way for younger players like José Miranda. He struggled in 2021 but has been an above-average hitter in three of the past four years. In 2022, Urshela hit 13 home runs and slashed .285/.338/.429 for a wRC+ of 119. He mostly played third base but has also seen some brief time at the other infield positions in his career. He’ll allow the club to manage Rendon’s workload after he has missed significant time over the past two years.

If both players are healthy and productive, perhaps Urshela is moved around the diamond. First base is a bit of a question mark right now after Jared Walsh required surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome last year. The middle infield is also a bit uncertain based on 2022. Luis Rengifo was slightly above average at the plate but was graded poorly on defense at both middle infield spots. David Fletcher was the opposite, getting good marks for his glovework but suffering through a rough year at the plate.

Urshela could potentially take some playing time away from any of those players, as could Drury. The well-traveled utilityman has occasionally shown flashes of talent throughout his career but could never quite put it together, often due to injuries. However, 2022 was the year everything finally clicked for Drury. Between the Reds and the Padres, he hit 28 home runs and produced a .263/.320/.492 batting line for a 123 wRC+. He also continued to be incredibly versatile, spending time at all four infield positions. He only had one inning in the outfield last year but has a tally of 965 2/3 frames out there in his career. The middle infield picture is murky but they have six players for four spots on the infield overall in Rendon, Walsh, Drury, Urshela, Fletcher and Rengifo. Even if a couple of them are hurt or underperforming, they could still be okay given that most of them can play multiple positions. Walsh could also spend some time in the outfield, if need be.

Speaking of the outfield, the club parted with Brandon Marsh at last year’s deadline and saw continued struggles from Jo Adell and Mickey Moniak. They already had two spots spoken for with Trout and Taylor Ward, but added a third reliable option in Renfroe. His power is his only standout tool but he’s certainly strong in that department. He’s hit 60 home runs over the past two seasons, while providing defense around an average level. His walk and strikeout rates have also been roughly in line with league averages. He’ll add some thump to the lineup without really hurting elsewhere.

Between Anderson, Estévez, Moore, Urshela, Drury and Renfroe, the club has supplemented their rotation, bullpen, infield and outfield. On the whole, it’s a nice series of additions that don’t totally remake the club but nonetheless decreases the chance of a few injuries totally tanking the season. They’ve also made few long-term commitments, as Anderson’s deal is the longest at three years. Drury and Estévez are on the books through 2024 while Moore, Urshela and Renfroe are all impending free agents. The acquisition costs for both Urshela and Renfroe were low because of their limited control and arbitration salaries around the eight-figure mark. They also added Brett Phillips on a one-year deal to serve as an outfielder who can provide some speed and defense off the bench.

One area of the roster the club didn’t address was catcher. They were linked to Willson Contreras in the offseason before he signed with the Cardinals, but they ultimately decided to stick with in-house options. The primary candidates for big league playing time are Max Stassi and Logan O’Hoppe. Stassi has been considered a strong defender behind the plate and seemed to take a step forward with the bat over 2020 and 2021. Unfortunately, he took a big step back last year, hitting .180/.267/.303. His strong run in the previous two years landed him an extension that runs through 2024, but he’ll now have to jockey for playing time with O’Hoppe. The youngster came over from the Phillies in the Marsh trade and had a tremendous season. Between the two organizations, he hit .283/.416/.544 in Double-A last year for a 159 wRC+. He still has no Triple-A experience, but O’Hoppe was a top-100 prospect who got a major league call-up late last year and seems poised to stick in the big leagues. Should he struggle and require some more time in the minors, the Angels also have Matt Thaiss on the 40-man and some non-roster invitees.

All in all, the Angels are going into the season with no glaring holes. There’s some uncertainty here and there, but many fallback options all over what looks to be a deep roster. The greater uncertainty is when looking at things from a distance. Owner Arte Moreno announced in August that he would explore a sale of the team, but then a further announcement in January revealed he had backed off of that pursuit. That gets rid of the uncertainty about the ownership question but that development hasn’t been viewed favorably by all, as Moreno is a divisive figure among the club’s fans. On the one hand, he’s frequently signed off on aggressive payrolls as the club aims to build a competitive teaam around Trout. On the other hand, he has a reputation for meddling in baseball decisions in a way that hasn’t served the club well.

The plan for the manager’s chair will also have to be figured out going forward. Joe Maddon was fired in June. Phil Nevin took over an interim basis and inked a one-year extension in October, so he’ll stick around for 2023. The club was for sale at that time and it was seen by many as a stopgap hire, with a more long-term plan getting kicked down the road until a new owner was in place, either with Nevin or some other skipper. Now that the sale is off, the Angels will have to figure out if Nevin is their guy or if they feel the need to look elsewhere.

The Angels will surely be hoping that this is the year Trout and Ohtani finally get to play in the playoffs together, but it won’t be a cakewalk. They are still looking up at the reigning World Series champion Astros as the heavyweight in the division. On top of that, the Mariners are fresh off breaking their own postseason drought, while the Rangers have been incredibly aggressive in their own attempts to return to contention.

If things don’t go according to plan and the Angels fall shy of contention yet again, they would be positioned to reload for the future in a big way at the deadline. As mentioned, Renfroe, Urshela and Moore are all impending free agents, as is Tepera and, of course, Ohtani. If he were to be made available, he would be among the most attractive deadline trade candidates in history. The club could always sign him to an extension that locks him up for the rest of his career, but there’s been little to suggest such a deal is close to a reality. The two-way superstar has expressed his desire to win, and a strong season from the club could potentially increase the chances of keeping him around. However, by the time that comes to fruition, he would be so close to the open market that it would likely be harder to pull him back from the brink.

The Angels did a lot of good things to patch up their roster for 2023, but the future still seems uncertain. The upcoming campaign could be a huge pivot point for the franchise.

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