Welcome to my installment of the If I were Perry Minasian series, where CtPG writers detail the transactions they would make for their desired Angels offseason.
In order to rosterbate responsibly, guidelines for this exercise are as follows.
- Angels end-of-year payroll for luxury tax purposes shall not exceed $195 million, giving the GM $26 million to spend during the offseason (the club’s current projected CBT payroll is $169mm). See here for more on the Angels’ payroll situation.
- Factored into that projected payroll are arbitration projections from Cot’s. This shouldn’t deviate too much from MLBTR’s estimates, but we’ll use Cot’s figures simply for ease of use.
- When possible, use contract projections based on FanGraphs or MLB Trade Rumor estimates, as experts from these outlets have a better pulse on the free-agent landscape than most.
- Trades must be as realistic as possible. One popular tactic among baseball fans on the internet is offering a bunch of players you don’t like in exchange for some you do. In reality, that’s not how trades actually work, so that’s off-limits. The Baseball Trade Values site can be a good resource for a sanity check oftentimes, but each team values players differently and their wants/needs/tendencies should be taken into account, too.
The needs of the organization are pretty clear
- Pitching on all levels
- A quality middle infielder
- Catching on all levels
- MLB ready corner outfielder
- Giving the farm time to develop
The Angels have gone about team building more like an NBA team than an MLB team the last decade. The problem is, unlike basketball, 2 or 3 stars can’t carry a team to the promised land. Baseball is all about depth, building a strong foundation on which those stars can shine. The Angels have their Jordan and Pippen in Trout and Rendon but they need to build a team around them.
So, while there’s never such a thing as having too much star power, as GM I need to realize two things this off-season: 1. I already have quite a bit of it and 2. there’s none really to be had this off-season, especially with the limited budget and trade resources available. However, there are opportunities to add youth and upside to the roster while building a solid foundation.
That’s exactly what I tried to do, add some relatively safe picks while adding just enough upside to dream on a little.
Non-tender Hansel Robles, Matt Andriese, Justin Anderson
In a normal year I’d take a chance on Robles bouncing back, but with the reliever market absolutely flooded there will be bargains to be had with his $4 million. Plus, I believe in Michael Mayers new pitch. Andriese is the victim of that flooded market. His production can be easily replaced. Same goes for Anderson.
This saves me $7.4 million, bringing my play money to $33.4 million.
Sign Masahiro Tanaka
3 years, $39 million [+$13 million]
The sexy name here is Trevor Bauer but he only gives the Angels a shot to win once each time through the rotation and the Angels need more than that. Beyond starting pitching, the club also needs quality relievers and depth. The price difference between Tanaka at $13 million per year and Trevor at over twice that gives me the opportunity to provide depth.
Tanaka is consistent. He’s a solid #2 starter on a winning team and is durable. I can expect him to give the team a shot to win 30 times next year, which is huge. His biggest problem has been the home run ball but moving out of the bandboxes of the AL East should help that a bit.
Three Team Trade: Angels receive Triston McKenzie (SP) and Ronaldo Hernandez (C), Rays receive Brandon Marsh (OF), Indians receive Austin Meadows (OF) and Jhon Diaz (OF)
I have two trade chips, Adell and Marsh. While I love the higher floor of Marsh I have to dream a bit on the upside of Adell to envision a championship club sooner rather than later. And I definitely need pitching and catching.
Triston McKenzie made his MLB debut last year after spending the previous year on the lower half of most top 100 prospects list. He’s a bit of an anti-Eppler pitch as he features 4 good pitches, no outstanding pitch, but grades well above average in command. With a little more development he profiles as a solid middle of the rotation arm and is under control for six years. He’s not Plesac, looks to be the type of pitcher Callaway excels working with.
Ronaldo Hernandez is a near MLB ready catcher with a cannon for an arm and a tendency to pull the ball too often. But when he does pull it, he does so with great power. There’s still some work to be done here but he could conceivably take an MLB role this year. A timeshare between him and Stassi would stop the revolving door at catcher for a couple of years.
As for my trade partners, Cleveland gets a much-needed bat and outfielder while holding onto their top-line pitching. The Rays get better, younger, and push the arbitration window between Meadows and Marsh back a few years without giving up their top prospects. In all, it works for everyone.
Sign Ha-Seong Kim 5 years $40 million
[Add $8 million]
Back to adding more youth and upside. Kim is a 25-year-old shortstop who has lit the KBO on fire. The KBO is generally considered to be somewhere between AA and AAA so what I’m basically doing is adding a 25 year old who destroyed that level to the tune of a .306/.397/.523 slash line last year while playing a solid shortstop. Fangraphs projects him to be a 3.5-4 WAR player each of the next five years.
Last year, Angels shortstops were about 10% below league average with the bat. If Kim lives up to projections, he will be about 10% better than league average, which is a nice boost. Plus this keeps David Fletcher at second base, where he is among the best in the game. Kim can also give Anthony Rendon a day off from time to time.
Further, this puts me in the driver’s seat next year. As several contenders face either losing their star shortstops or competing in the bidding wars that will ensue, I have two incredibly valuable trade chips. Or I can let my competitors pour resources into shortstop while I scoop up talent in other areas.
Sign Darren O’Day (RP) 2 years $7 million
[Add $3.5 million]
The one who got away. Darren O’Day has been nothing but solidly spectacular his entire career and he pitched great for me in Atlanta last year. A minuscule walk rate combined with striking out a batter per frame leads to a 3.8 k/bb from a guy who consistently takes the ball 60 plus games a year.
O’Day’s WHIP and opposing OPS are actually lower than bigger money guys like Trevor May and he’ll come at half the price. Considering the lack of arms in the system pushing for a bullpen spot, giving O’Day a second year secures his services.
Sign Justin Wilson (RP) 2 years $8 million
[Add $4 million]
Another coming back home signing. Justin Wilson was born in Anaheim and brings a much needed lefty arm to the bullpen. In the days of the idiotic three batter rule, it is important for a lefty to also get out righties and Wilson does. In fact, he has a microscopic reverse split.
Opponents also have a lower career OPS against Wilson than they do against May. There might not be a ton of upside to dream on here, but take a look at his game logs and you’ll see his team rarely loses a lead he’s entrusted to keep. And that’s what I want, dependability.
Sign Robbie Grossman (OF) 1 year $4 million
[Add $4 million]
Not going to lie I completely stole this idea from Brent Maguire’s excellent entrant. I had saved some money and was looking at non-tender candidates as a possible solution here but Grossman is perfect. He’s a switch hitter who can capably play right field and give Adell some development time. He’s available on a short term deal and would bring the Angels sub-par corner outfield production from last year to league average.
Trade Leonardo Rivas (2B) to Toronto for Reese McGuire (C)
Toronto has an embarrassment of riches at the catching position and McGuire might soon find his way out of a job. Coming off a disastrous 2020 this would be buying low on Reese but he gives the team a little insurance while Stassi recovers from surgery and ensures Hernandez gets the minor league seasoning he needs.
Speaking of minor league seasoning….
Start Jo Adell in the minors in 2021
Look, we need to tap the upside of Adell in order to really have a juggernaut team and sometimes the best way to take a step forward is to take a step back. Jo needs some more time in right field. You could see the spin and angles affecting him out there and his confidence taking a hit. He was thinking, not playing. Get the kid right while Grossman holds down the fort and bring him up when he’s ready to play.
Total money spent: $33 million in 2021
Offseason in Review
My offseason provides a nice mix of raising the floor and bringing in some reasonable upside. The rotation features two known quantities in Tanaka and Bundy alongside two talented youngsters in Canning and McKenzie. Heaney rounds out the crew while Jaime Barria and Reid Detmers provide depth in AAA. This is without mentioning Ohtani, who probably has the best stuff on the staff. Any innings Ohtani gives are now considered bonus, icing, gravy.
The bullpen adds two stabilizing forces in O’Day and Wilson. I’m gambling on one of Buttrey or Middleton to have a bounceback year but they are young enough and inexpensive enough to justify that gamble. Plus, there are far more relievers than jobs available so I will sign some minor league deals.
The lineup is without an obvious hole. Kim has a keen eye, Grossman has a solid OBP and Reese has typically been solid offensively. Keeping the lineup churning for Trout and Rendon is the goal here and I think I’ve nailed it.
Plus I’ve done all of this without tying up significant money in future years. I’ll have two rotation spots to fill next year, after all.
Below, you will find the projected 26-man roster and depth chart.
- David Fletcher, 2B
- Mike Trout, CF
- Anthony Rendon, 3B
- Shohei Ohtani, DH
- Ha-Seong Kim, SS
- Jared Walsh 1B
- Justin Upton, LF
- Robbie Grossman RF
- Reese McGuire/Max Stassi, C
- Max Stassi, C
- Albert Pujols, 1B/DH
- Taylor Ward, IF/OF
- Luis Rengifo, IF
- Dylan Bundy, RHP
- Masahiro Tanaka, RHP
- Triston McKenzie, RHP
- Griffin Canning, RHP
- Andrew Heaney, RHP
- Mike Mayers, RHP
- Darren O’Day, RHP
- Justin Wilson, RHP
- Félix Peña, RHP
- Ty Buttrey, RHP
- Keynan Middleton, RHP
- Patrick Sandoval, LHP
- Noe Ramirez, RHP