AL West Notes: Angels, Astros, Brantley


Angels manager Phil Nevin indicated to reporters (including Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register) that the club would not be naming right-hander Carlos Estevez as the closer to open the season, instead opting for a committee approach to open the season. Estevez signed with the Angels earlier this offseason on a two-year deal and was expected to step into the closer role to open the season, but that does not appear to be the plan, at least for the start of the 2023 campaign.

Still, Nevin told reporters that Estevez “is definitely going to get some big outs late in the game most of the year for us,” leaving the door open to the right-hander remaining the conversation to close games for the Angels this season. The Angels have a fairly deep group of pitchers with late inning experience at the back of their bullpen in addition to Estevez that includes Ryan Tepera, Matt Moore, Aaron Loup and Jimmy Herget.

The Angels were aggressive in acquiring shorter-term assets this offseason in order to immediately improve the club during two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani’s final year of club control. The additions of Hunter Renfroe, Gio Urshela, and Brandon Drury lengthened the lineup and provided depth in case of injuries while the club signed Tyler Anderson to deepen the starting rotation. The additions of Estevez and Moore to the bullpen this offseason certainly improved upon the group of relievers the Angels would’ve otherwise had, but it’s an open question whether or not they did enough to make up for the still-lingering loss of Raisel Iglesias, who was dealt to the Braves at the last trade deadline.

More from around the AL West…

  • Astros manager Dana Brown told Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle and other reporters that extension conversations with outfielder Kyle Tucker and left-handed starter Framber Valdez are “on pause” for the time being. Brown noted that while it’s possible talks could restart during or after the season, Jose Altuve’s thumb surgery forced Brown to divert attention to other areas of the roster. Both Tucker and Valdez are under team control through the end of the 2025 season, giving the club plenty of time to revisit contract negotiations ahead of the duo’s pending free agency.
  • Sticking with the Astros, the club was already expecting to be without left fielder Michael Brantley to start the season, but it now appears he’ll be out of action for longer than a minimum 10-day IL stint. Manager Dusty Baker told reporters (including Rome) that Brantley would join the team in Houston for World Series celebrations next week before returning to the club’s Florida facilities in order to continue his rehab and ramp-up process. Brantley missed most of the last season following shoulder surgery, but has been a consistent, quality bat for Houston when healthy, slashing .306/.368/.464 (128 wRC+) in 379 games since joining the organization in 2019. Jake Meyers figures to draw starts in center field while Brantley is absent, with Chas McCormick sliding over to left.

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