The Angels will sport a nice starting nine and a nice rotation to start the year. If everyone is healthy and producing at their normal levels, this team will be fun to watch.
One problem, though, is that no team is ever fully healthy with everyone producing at normal levels. Guys get hurt. Somebody will have a breakout year we didn’t see coming and somebody will have the worst year of their career. That’s the inherent uncertainty with baseball.
The difference between winning teams and those watching TV in October is usually the ability to handle the inevitable injuries and down years. Perry Minasian seems to have realized that and has openly stated he wants to “thicken the roster” and create depth.
Here are some options to create that depth that would come with short contracts and keep the team below the luxury tax threshold.
Uncertainty: the health of Jared Walsh and outfield depth.
Solution: Sign Wil Myers.
At best, Jared Walsh is a great defender who crushes right handed pitching but struggles against lefties. Considering he’s coming off thoracic outlet surgery we have no idea if he’s going to be at his best. At best, Taylor Ward and Hunter Renfroe are plus bats with OK defense. The problem is there’s nobody behind them.
Signing Myers immediately gives the Angels a platoon bat for Walsh in case he’s healthy. A career .255/.351/.453 line against southpaws is a huge jump for the Angels lineup and a nice pinch hitter to have on the bench. If Walsh really is toast, Myers is perfectly capable of being an average MLB bat and defender. He can also spell Ward in left adequately, allowing Ward to take days off and to spell Renfroe in right, keeping both guys fresh.
In short, signing Myers gives the Angels depth on both the grass and infield. In a given week, he’d probably play 1-2 days on the grass, another day or two at first, and get a DH day. And if there’s an injury, he’s a starter.
Uncertainty: the heath of Jared Walsh and catching depth.
Take all the stuff about Walsh above but also add in Max Stassi, who will turn 32 right around Opening Day and is coming off an absolutely horrendous season. Perhaps he just had his bad year, perhaps he’s toast. We’ll know in a few months but by then it might be too late.
Christian Vasquez is a stud. He’s also 32 but without the concussion history of Stassi. Vasquez also has some experience at first and as a DH. His line vs. lefties is .257/.309/.422 which is shy of Myers but still solid.
Does this block top prospect Logan O’hoppe? Not really. In the best of times it takes three catchers to get through a full season. If Vasquez is spending decent time at first and/or Stassi sucks again, O’hoppe plays a big role. If not, he’s a perfect piece to bring up when needed and save that service clock.
Uncertainty: shortstop, the health of Anthony Rendon, and the health of Jared Walsh.
Solution: sign Jean Segura.
Let me state the obvious, Jean Segura is no longer a shortstop. Also at age 32, Segura is a quality second baseman with a slightly above average bat. He’d also be about the only certainty in a very uncertain infield.
Gio Urshela provides good protection if one of Rendon or Walsh is hurt or toast. But there’s a decent shot both will need help. And even in the best of times, guys need days off.
By plugging Segura into second base 5 days a week, the Angels can mix and match Fletcher, Rengifo, and Urshela around the diamond. Also, thanks to the flexibility of those three, Segura should be able to get a couple of days off each week to stay fresh.
Is this a true shortstop signing? Obviously not. But it would give the Angels three decent options for one spot with the other two guys as depth. That’s depth.
Uncertainty: how the rotation will work.
The Angels are committing to pitching Ohtani every 6th day, meaning a sixth starter won’t be needed on a regular basis. In fact, some months might only have 1 or 2 starts for the sixth man. It would be a waste of roster space to have that sixth starter be a truly dedicated starter.
Enter Seth Lugo. Or, if you’d like bring back Michael Lorenzen. Each of these guys has extensive bullpen experience and some track record of starting. We’re looking for about 80-100 innings here, not much more, and each has the ability to do so.
Imagine having Lugo come in with lefty junk for 2-3 innings after Ohtani has thrown heat. Or perhaps Lorenzen’s heat after 5 innings of Suarez from the left side. That would limit the exposure and innings for the single inning guys while giving Lugo or Lorenzen enough work to be ready for 5 innings or so for their rare starts.
While I like these fits at the MLB level, the fact they keep Silseth in AAA as first man up is a nice bonus. When a rotation stalwart has an injury, management has options.
Uncertainty: who can spell Trout and OF defense in general.
Solution: Sign Raimel Tapia.
Guys on the roster who are technically capable of playing center field: Ward, Jo Adell, and Mickey Moniak. And there is nobody in AAA.
Tapia will turn 29 and is a burner with a good glove in center field. He’s about 10% worse than MLB average with the bat, which makes him leaps and bounds better than Adell or Moniak to this point in their careers.
Plus, let’s not pretend the routes of Ward and Renfroe are things of beauty. Tapia would be a great defensive replacement late in games and could use his speed as a pinch runner. All while Adell gets a chance to play a season in AAA and either force his way up or drop completely off the radar.
Bonus: Renfroe can cover first a bit to spell Walsh or be a platoon partner.
I’ll look into some trades later this week, but with the free agent market going bonkers this year I’m not all that thrilled with the simulator. Ahmed Rosario was well in reach before Xander and Turner landed 11 year deals. His price has to have skyrocketed.
However, any of these deals adds significant depth to a roster that has no reinforcements. Any combination of the two would be huge. Myers and Vasquez are a bit redundant but all others can be mixed and matched for great depth with minimal long term cost. Give me Myers, Segura, and Lugo and I’m stoked. Give me Vasquez, Tapia and Lorenzen and I’m happy.
Which is your favorite individual move? Favorite combination? And who did I miss?