Angels GM Perry Minasian has built the most depth we’ve seen in years. A veritable Swiss Army Team of guys who can play multiple positions, providing at least two MLB caliber players for every position on the field.
But there’s still work to be done, as both Minasian and Mike Trout have publicly stated yesterday. Three weeks from reporting date isn’t usually the time to add to the ceiling of a team, but the floor can still be raised in meaningful ways.
I’m really bullish on the trio of Eric Torres, Luke Murphy, and Ben Joyce from last year’s Trash Pandas team. I think they all debut at some point in 2023 and do well. That said, the team can’t afford to have the bullpen blow too many games early in the season while we wait for the bullpen of the future to emerge.
He’s far and away the most expensive name on this list, but pairing him with Carlos Esteves at the end of the bullpen would push Ryan Tepera, Loup, Jimmy Herget, and Quijada into lower leverage spots and really add depth to the unit.
As of now, 2022 trade deadline pickup Tucker Davidson is slated to be the sixth starter in the rotation. He has virtually no experience coming out of the bullpen and was really bad last year as a starter. Take a look at his peripherals. Being the worst at walking guys while giving up hard contact is a bad combination. Tucker is a liability.
Many on the board are clamoring for Michael Wacha. His peripherals are better than Davidson’s but he’s also a pure starter, meaning he’s of no use to the team on the days he’s not slated to start.
Insert the recently released Mark Leiter Jr. Better peripheral numbers than both of the above options and plenty of experience coming out of the bullpen. He’s both an upgrade on the days he starts and potentially useful on the days he doesn’t. I’ll take him.
I’d leave him in the long reliever/spot starter role when the inevitable injury arises in the rotation. The hottest hand in AAA will fill the rotation spot. Somebody like Griffin Canning or Chase Silseth.
Typical Angels fans will say “we have Stassi and O’hoppe” and be correct. However, teams rarely get by with only two catchers and Stassi was horrid at the plate last year. More concerning to me is that Stassi was horrid after a concussion. In a game where milliseconds make the difference between success and failure, I don’t want to depend on Mad Max after multiple concussions.
I was pining for Jorge Alfaro all off season but he’s off the board. I’ll take 27 year old Luis Torrens. His OPS+ of 71 is a notable improvement over both Stassi and Kurt Suzuki’s production last year.
He’s available this late due to concerns about his defense but he’s the youngest option available and isn’t a slouch with the bat. The fact he’s available this late means he’ll be cheap.
Outside of Chafin, the cost would be really low to shore up some notable weaknesses on the roster. And if cost really is the issue, perhaps Perry would take a look at old friend Will Smith for the bullpen. He doesn’t move the needle nearly as much as Chafin, though.
Would these guys be blocking prospects who could emerge? No. The costs for Leiter Jr. and Torrens will be minimal; perhaps even minor league deals. I’d sign Leiter to an MLB deal just to make sure I landed him.
If any of Canning, Silseth, Bush, or Bachman forced their way onto the roster, Leiter might again make it through waivers and head to Salt Lake. If not, he’d at least have been an upgrade while he was here. Same if O’hoppe tears the cover off the ball in AAA.
The difference between making the playoffs and missing them is pretty small in many areas. A few blown leads in April, a few bad starts by your last starter, burning out the bullpen because you don’t have a long reliever…we’ve seen them all.
This would go a long way towards mitigating the remaining weaknesses on the squad.
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