Angels Insiders: Pujols’ Surgery, Escobar, Simmons

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This is the fourth surgery Albert has undergone in his five years with the Angels. Yet only one has resulted in significant time missed during any of those seasons. That was in 2013, when his plantar fasciitis finally caught up to him, and the tendon in his left foot tore during a game in Oakland. This time, he’s had the procedure done on his right foot so he will be pain free when running again.

Pujols had shock wave therapy on his foot early in the offseason, thinking he wouldn’t need surgery. That turned out to be false. Some have even argued that he should’ve just had the surgery instead of waiting. But, as with Garrett Richards, if one can seek an alternative method, and make it a success, thus avoiding said surgery, then by all means. Many of us would do the same.

But had he completed the therapy, and still needed the procedure, Albert would’ve missed the entire first half of 2017. So as Pujols’ pain worsened despite the treatment, the decision was made to avoid that possibility.

Things being as they are, the recovery timetable is four months. Whether that includes Spring Training is up in the air. As of right now, he’d be back some time in April. But that was the story last season when he had a small surgery done on his toe. Knowing Albert, he’ll probably be ready to go. And he may be more mobile than he was when he was running the bases feeling needles were sticking up from the ground.

 

More From Around The Big A

  • Does that answer everyone’s question. This has been a topic of discussion and debate for over a year now. Infielders often are listed at multiple positions but that does not mean they can play every spot on the diamond. Yunel Escobar cannot and will not play second base. He’s tried it before and it just did not click with him. He’s a shortstop by trade, moving to third base because the Washington Nationals had a shortstop and needed a reliable third baseman. And that’s about the limit of his versatility. And he’s staying at the hot corner with the Angels as long as a guy named Andrelton is manning the area between second and third base. Moving on now…

  • If one is wondering why Simmons is representing the Netherlands, he grew up in Curacao, which is an island off the coast of Venezuela, and is right next to Aruba. This territory is actually part of the Dutch Antilles region of the Caribbean. Several areas within the Caribbean became European settlements hundreds of years ago. And in Curacao, the Netherlands still has a strong presence.

Eppler’s Domain: CBA, Luxury Tax, Winter Meetings, Moves

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That dreaded time has come where Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Union must hash out the details of their collective bargaining agreement before the deadline to avoid a lockout. And the reports have been back-and-forth over whether to not the two sides will reach an agreement.

One of the issues on the table is a possible International Draft, which has caused controversy over the possible threat of diluting opportunities created by the current amateur draft. Another that will likely take some time to figure out is one the Angels are monitoring: the luxury tax.

After just falling under the $189 million dollar threshold in 2016, the Halos are trying to spend wisely on smaller depth moves, something they’ve been doing for the fourth straight offseason. Yes, it’s been that long since the club signed or traded for a big name with a big contract.

However, Arte Moreno, Billy Eppler, and the Angels’ front office might get more to spend if the new CBA features a tax that could reach up to $210 million. But that may come in increments from season-to-season, starting next year. Still, it creates more breathing room.

Rosters are expected to expand to 26. The game schedule should remain at 162 games, with more off-days. September call-ups are sure to be more restricted.

Biggest of all, draft pick compensation might get a major adjustment by eliminating it from the qualifying offer and making it the penalty exceeding the luxury tax.

Then, there’s the possibility of a lock-out. And this means a work stoppage. Hopefully this won’t happen after revenue is expected to exceed $10 billion, and the greatest World Series ratings in 25 years. The first thing that will go is the Winter Meetings in Washington D.C.

This is where the Angels are planning on looking for a second baseman. There are plenty of affordable options on the trade market, such Brian Dozier, Cesar Hernandez, Derek Dietrich, and Josh Harrison. The Halos do have the pieces to get most of these guys. And the CBA is the only thing standing in the way of the Angels pursuing that second baseman next month.

 

More From The GM’s Office

  • Relavant to negotiations, this kid will likely see a higher salary than what he signed for, and will have a shot at being the fourth outfielder for the Angels. LaMarre, 28, spent 2015 with the Reds, and 2016 with the Red Sox, where the outfielder had his best season at Triple-A Pawtucket, batting .303/.369/.445 over 358 plate appearances. He hasn’t done much at the Major League level. His entire career slash line is below .100, but in only 32 plate appearances. More than likely, the outfielder will sit at Triple-A Salt Lake in case of an emergency. This is also likely another fixer-upper the Angels can develop as they try to add pieces to their farm system.
  • After helping the Angels in times of trouble, Gregorio Petit was designated for assignment to correspond with the LaMarre signing. It wasn’t a very good season, but his .245 / .299 / .353 line held the fort when the club was looking for bench depth. Keep in mind, he was hitting around .270-.280 for much of the season until slumping in September.

  • Graterol didn’t have much of a chance to contribute considering the Angels are going after a veteran catcher, with Carlos Perez as the sure backup. The young backstop only played 12 games and hit .286 / .286 / .429. But he has a .270 / .320 / .335 career slash in eleven seasons in the minors. He’s clearly a minor league journeyman serving as the emergency catcher option. The Angels are wise to move on from this. The next one will come and go as well.
  • Also, pitcher Blake Parker was claimed by the Brewers after being DFA’d as well.
  • By the way, Guerrer is Vlady’s nephew.

  • Sean Rodriguez was the guy Fletch was talking about. Before signing a multi-year contract with the Atlanta Braves, the Angels did have discussions about signing the utility infielder. But the need is more for a lefty bat, and Sean is a righty. That’s all we have on that one.

Hopefully the new CBA will arrive and the Angels will get their second baseman at the Winter Meetings. But until then, we wait like everyone else.

Mike Trout 2016 Video Clips

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Now that Mike Trout has won his second MVP, here are some videos for fans to enjoy!

 

 

 

 

More clips will be added as they become available.

 

Mike Trout Wins AL MVP

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The Angels have their first player ever to win multiple MVP’s. Mike Trout took home the award for the second time in three seasons after posting one of his best seasons despite his team not making the playoffs. And that was the big debate leading up to the final voting. It was put to rest, however, as Trout’s .315 / .441 / .550 slash line, to go with 29 home runs, 30 stolen bases, great base running and defense, a 171 wRC, 174 OPS+, and 10.6 WAR was the most productive turnout in all of baseball.

Mike is now the the second player in Major League history to finish top-two in the MVP voting in five consecutive seasons. The first was Barry Bonds. And Trout is the first player in history to reach runner-up or better in the first five years of his career. He’s also the youngest player in history to win two MVP’s by the age of 25.

Unlike 2014 (Trout’s first MVP) this was not a unanimous vote, as the young superstar got 19 of 30 first-place votes. Mookie Betts and David Ortiz of the Red Sox, and Adrian Beltre of the Rangers got their share of top votes as well. But it was clearly Trout’s award to win.

Especially considering the Angels were 74-88 on the season. It didn’t matter this time. Perhaps Mike Trout is the poster boy for a transition to a new level of thinking about the MVP award.

Either way, congratulations Mike!

Angels Sign Jesse Chavez

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Pitching is on the menu this winter, and the Angels need to stuff their faces with it. They began this week by re-signing Andrew Bailey to a one-year contract, and now they’ve inked former nemesis, right-hander Jessie Chavez.

With the A’s and Dodgers last season, Jessie logged a 4.43 ERA, a 4.49 FIP, and a 1.328 WHIP in 67 innings, all out of the bullpen.

For his career, the career swing man has a career 4.54 ERA, with a 4.25 FIP, and a 1.383 WHIP in nine seasons in the Bigs.

This is not a flashy move, just merely a way of bridging the gap between the starting rotation and the bullpen. Basically filling the Jhoulys Chacin role that every team should have. Chavez can start, and he can come out of the bullpen to clean the mess left by a struggling starter.

For $5.25 million, and $3 million in incentives, that’s not a bad move. It’s not great either. But the Angels need innings more than anything.

 

More From the GM’s Office

  • Looks like Ortega’s cup of coffee with the Angels may just be brief after all. Unless he accepts his assignment, the speedy utility outfielder will continue his career as a journeyman. His .232 / .283 / .292 slash line made it pretty easy to decide who was next to go off the 40-man roster. That and the need for veteran arms on the staff.

  • Your guess is as good as our’s. It wasn’t a high profile second baseman. It was just someone another team was pawning off on the Angels. Billy Eppler stresses run prevention, and the Halos also need better defense than in 2016. So the front office is prioritizing at least a league average hitter with a good glove in that spot.
  • Howie Kendrick was also dealt to the Phillies on Friday, so that could pave the way for the Angels to get serious about a trade for Cesar Hernandez. The question is whether or not there’s a match. Regardless, the club will continue their pursuit of a second baseman, likely through the trade market.

  • Just in case anyone was wondering. This means that under the current CBA, the Angels have $26 million left before the luxury tax. But as mentioned above, it could go up, and that would give the Halos more to spend. We’ll see what happens.

Eppler’s Domain: MLBTR Offseason Outlook, Baldoquin, Top Prospects

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The 2016 season was over for the Angels a long time ago. With a 74-88 campaign due to major pitching injuries that will linger into 2017, numerous additional questions loom for the Halos. Although Garrett Richards is returning, and Huston Street is expected to be ready, there is much concern over the club’s pitching depth, as well as holes at second base and left field. MLB Trade Rumors recently took a look at the team’s situation and gave a full detailed analysis of their needs, as well as what the front office can possibly do to bounce back next season. And the cornerstone of any return to contention of course is the young man in the thumbnail below…

 

More From The GM’s Office

  • In the wake of two disappointing seasons from prospect Roberto Baldoquin, the Angels are still hoping the 22-year-old infielder can get it together. After signing an $8 million dollar bonus that nearly doubled due to penalties, and restricted the organization’s international spending, the young Cuban has been plagued by injuries that have slowed his development to being being stuck at High-A ball with a .219 /.269 /.267 career slash line. Conditioning may also be a factor; however, the club’s endorsement of Baldoquin centers around the fact that he works hard on and off the field, which is buying him more time to get back not track.
  • The Angels have had their farm system ranked at or near the bottom for a few years now. That might change very soon, however, as some of their newer prospcts had good seasons to start their professional careers. The Halos recently named top prospects Matt Thaiss (No. 1) and Jaime Barria (No. 7) as their Top Prospects of the Year.
    • Thaiss was the farm system’s position player of the year, hitting .338 /.394/ .569 with 10 extra-base hits over 15 games with the Rookie Ball Orem Owlz, and slashing .276/.351/.427 with 19 extra-base hits in 52 games at Class A Burlington. The recently converted first baseman (from catcher) is already getting noticed, and could rise the ranks quickly.
    • Barria was the organization’s pitching prospect of the year. At Class A Burlington, the young hurler was 8-6 with a 3.85 ERA, and career high 117 innings in 25 starts.
  • The Halos sent a list of prospects to the Arizona Fall League, where a couple of them are putting up good numbers. One of them includes a 2015 first round catcher who was doubted by some. These are the following players are participating in the AFL:
    • David Fletcher, SS/2B: .174 / .269 / .435 w/ 1 HR in 6 G
    • Michael Hermosillo, OF: .267 / .353 / .400 in 8 G
    • Taylor Ward, C: .280 / .308 / .400 in 9 G
    • Victor Alcantara, RHP: 0-1 / 10.80 ERA / 5 IP
    • Adam Hofacket, RHP: 0-1 / 5.79 ERA / 4 2/3 IP
    • Grayson Long, RHP: 0-1 / 6.75 ERA / 9 1/3 IP
    • Eduardo Paredes, RHP: 0-1 / 5.40 ERA / 5 IP
  • Looking ahead to the 2017 MLB Draft, there are a couple of Orange County pitching prospects who were on the Ocean View Little League team that won the 2011 Little League World Series. They are Hagen Danner and Logan Pouelsen. I covered these two in 2010 and 2011 up to the Little League Western Regionals. Both are committed to UCLA, but may go into the draft, and early. Keep an eye on those two names going into next June.

What The Angels Can Do With The Free Agent Market

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The Angels announced that their new General Manager Billy Eppler. The announcement was made at a news conference at Angel Stadium. ///ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: angels.newgm.1006 Ð 10/5/15 Ð LEONARD ORTIZ, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER - _LOR3836.NEF - New Angels GM Billy Eppler, the 12th GM in team history, will take part in a press conference from Angel Stadium at 1 p.m. PT on Monday, alongside Moreno, Scioscia and president John Carpino.

1006 Ð 10/5/15 Ð LEONARD ORTIZ, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER – _LOR3836.NEF – New Angels GM Billy Eppler, the 12th GM in team history.

The big question is whether or not the Angels will contend in 2017. Some say no. Some say they can if the club regroups. The argument usually arrives at the weak free agent market this offseason. Both sides have a legitimate case. On one hand, with a thin farm system, the Halos should rebuild and punt 2017 down the field. On the other hand, money is falling off the books and that gives GM Billy Eppler a chance to stock up on affordable options to fill holes while continuing to develop the team’s young players. Eppler already announced that focusing on a full rebuild was ‘out of the cards’. But what is really out there this winter?

How about we start with the actual free agent list as seen at MLB Trade Rumors?

Players in bold are Angels players (current or traded) that will be free agents.

Catcher

Alex Avila (30)
Drew Butera (34)
Jason Castro (30)
A.J. Ellis (36)
Ryan Hanigan (36) — $3.75MM club option; $800K buyout
Nick Hundley (33)
Chris Iannetta (34) — $4.25MM club option
Jonathan Lucroy (31) — $5.25MM club option; $25K buyout
Jeff Mathis (34)
Dioner Navarro (33)
A.J. Pierzynski (40)
Wilson Ramos (29)
Carlos Ruiz (38) — $4.5MM club option; $500K buyout
Jarrod Saltalamacchia (32)
Geovany Soto (34)
Kurt Suzuki (33)
Matt Wieters (31)

First Base

Edwin Encarnacion (34)
Ryan Howard (37) — $23MM club option; $10MM buyout
Chris Johnson (32)
Adam Lind (33)
James Loney (33)
Mitch Moreland (31)
Logan Morrison (29)
Brandon Moss (33)
Mike Napoli (35)
Steve Pearce (34)
Sean Rodriguez (32)
Carlos Santana (31) — $12MM club option; $1.2MM buyout
Eric Thames (30)

Second Base

Gordon Beckham (30)
Chris Coghlan (32)
Daniel Descalso (30)
Stephen Drew (34)
Kelly Johnson (35)
Steve Pearce (34)
Chase Utley (38)
Neil Walker (31)

Third Base

Yunel Escobar (34) — $7MM club option; $1MM buyout
Aaron Hill (35)
Martin Prado (33)
Ruben Tejada (27)
Justin Turner (32)
Luis Valbuena (31)

Shortstop

Erick Aybar (33)
Alcides Escobar (30)  – $6.5MM club option; $500K buyout
Alexei Ramirez (35) — $4MM mutual option; $1MM buyout

Left Field

Gregor Blanco (33)
Yoenis Cespedes (31) — opt out of current contract pending
Chris Coghlan (32)
Coco Crisp (37) — $13MM vesting/club option; $750K buyout
Rajai Davis (35)
Alejandro De Aza (33)
Ian Desmond (31)
Matt Holliday (37) — $17MM club option; $1MM buyout
Craig Gentry (33)
Brandon Moss (33)
Daniel Nava (34)
Angel Pagan (35)
Ryan Raburn (36)
Colby Rasmus (30)
Michael Saunders (30)
Eric Thames (30)

Center Field

Michael Bourn (34)
Yoenis Cespedes (31) — opt out of current contract pending
Coco Crisp (37) — $13MM club option; $750K buyout
Rajai Davis (35)
Ian Desmond (31)
Dexter Fowler (31) — $9MM mutual option; $5MM buyout
Carlos Gomez (31)
Austin Jackson (30)
Jon Jay (32)
Cameron Maybin (30) — $9MM club option; $1MM buyout
Drew Stubbs (32)

Right Field

Gregor Blanco (33)
Peter Bourjos (30)
Jose Bautista (36)
Carlos Beltran (39)
Jay Bruce (30) — $13MM club option; $1MM buyout
Franklin Gutierrez (34)
Matt Joyce (32)
Daniel Nava (34)
Josh Reddick (30)
Seth Smith (34) — $7MM club option; $250K buyout
Ichiro Suzuki (43) – $2MM club option
Mark Trumbo (31)

Designated Hitter

Pedro Alvarez (30)
Carlos Beltran (39)
Edwin Encarnacion (34)
Ryan Howard (37) — $23MM club option; $10MM buyout
Adam Lind (33)
Kendrys Morales (34) — $11MM mutual option; $1.5MM buyout
Brandon Moss (33)
Carlos Santana (31) — $12MM club option; $1.2MM buyout
Mark Trumbo (31)

Starting Pitcher

Brett Anderson (29)
Clay Buchholz (32) — $13.5MM club option; $500K buyout
Andrew Cashner (30)
Jhoulys Chacin (29)
Bartolo Colon (43)
Jorge De La Rosa (36)
R.A. Dickey (42)
Doug Fister (33)
Jaime Garcia (30) — $12MM club option; $500K buyout
Gio Gonzalez (31) — $12MM club option; $500K buyout
Jason Hammel (34) — $10MM club option; $2MM buyout
Jeremy Hellickson (30)
Rich Hill (37)
Derek Holland (30) — $11MM club option; $1MM buyout
Scott Kazmir (33) — opt out of current contract pending
Mat Latos (29)
Colby Lewis (37)
Kris Medlen (31) — $10MM mutual option; $1MM buyout
Charlie Morton (33) — $9.5MM mutual option; $1MM buyout
Jon Niese (30) — $10MM club option; $500K buyout
Ivan Nova (30)
Jake Peavy (36)
CC Sabathia (36) — $25MM vesting option; $5MM buyout
James Shields (35) — opt out of current contract pending
Alfredo Simon (36)
Edinson Volquez (33) — $10MM mutual option; $3MM buyout
Jered Weaver (34)
C.J. Wilson (36)

Right-Handed Reliever (Italics denote active closers)

Matt Albers (34) — $3MM club option; $250K buyout
Matt Belisle (37)
Joaquin Benoit (39)
Joe Blanton (36)
Blaine Boyer (35)
Santiago Casilla (36)
Joba Chamberlain (31)
Jesse Chavez (33)
Josh Collmenter (31) — $2.25MM mutual option; $150K buyout
Wade Davis (31) — $10MM club option; $2.5MM buyout
Scott Feldman (34)
Neftali Feliz (29)
Jason Grilli (40) — $3MM club option; $250K buyout
David Hernandez (32)
Luke Hochevar (33) — $7MM mutual option; $500K buyout
Greg Holland (31)
Daniel Hudson (30)
Tommy Hunter (30)
Edwin Jackson (33)
Kenley Jansen (29)
Kevin Jepsen (32)
Mark Melancon (32)
Pat Neshek (36) — $6.5MM club option; $500K buyout
Ross Ohlendorf (34)
Jonathan Papelbon (36)
Yusmeiro Petit (32) — $3MM club option; $500K buyout
Fernando Rodney (40) — floating $2MM+ club option; $400K buyout
Sergio Romo (34)
Fernando Salas (32)
Joe Smith (33)
Drew Storen (29)
Junichi Tazawa (31)
Carlos Torres (34)
Koji Uehara (42)
Ryan Vogelsong (39)
Jordan Walden (29) — $5.25MM club option; $250K buyout
Ryan Webb (31)
Brad Ziegler (37)

Left-Handed Reliever (Italics denote active closers)

Brett Cecil (30)
Aroldis Chapman (29)
Mike Dunn (32)
Boone Logan (32)
Javier Lopez (39)
Eric O’Flaherty (32)
Marc Rzepczynski (31)
Matt Thornton (40)
Travis Wood (30)

What Can The Angels Do With This Market?

It’s not a great market by any stretch, but it is a market that can afford any club a great deal of depth. Especially those with money to spend but are not in the running for a star with a huge contract. That’s pretty much where the Angels will be, and for the fourth straight offseason. Arte Moreno has taken a step back and has allowed his GM’s to make depth moves after striking big in the 2012 and 2013 offseasons by signing Albert Pujols, CJ Wilson, and Josh Hamilton. Since then, the Halos have basically been plugging holes to deepen their roster. So what can Billy Eppler do with this market?

Let’s go by each position and see what might fit.

Catcher

This is an interesting one because of the fact that the Angels already have a formidable young duo in the making between Jett Bandy and Carlos Perez. Bandy is the better hitter, with power. And with Geovany Soto dealing with knee issues, Jett has come out of nowhere to give the club something to look forward to behind the dish.

Bandy and Perez are also very good defenders. Having a catching tandem where both catchers are good defensively has not happened since the Molina Brothers graced Angels fans with their presence.

So, for now, this one will have to be an up-in-the-air scenario. But just to throw it out there: Donnier Navarro. And if you don’t mind a little less defense but with a power bat: Matt Wieters.

Other than that, the club will probably stick with Bandy/Perez.

Second Base

Long term solutions here are scarce. But the Angels don’t really need that as much as they just need depth and a variety of options. Most middle infields end up as a committee any ways. Andrelton Simmons has shortstop locked down for a while, so the focus up the middle will be on second base.

As far as the long run, I say Neil Walker. He may be a bit expensive. But he’s a left-handed bat that can hit for pretty good percentages with pop that pushes his homerun totals into the mid teens. I love players like that. They balance out your offense, and Walker can certainly do that. Asdrubal Cabrera was a guy I really wanted the Angels to get last offseason. Walker is a comparable commodity.

For the short-term, I’d go with Steve Pearce or Kelly Johnson. These are also multi-position players that can build the club’s diversity. However, the Halos could also go in-house with Gregorio Petit. Although that would still require Cliff Pennington to round out the playing time, as Petit is probably not going to give the Angels 150 games of decent production at second base.

So I’d definitely look for the Walkers, the Pearce’s, and perhaps the Johnsons to plug this area. But there is still one other interesting option that’s been talked about for almost a year now…

Third Base

Yunel Escobar is giving the Angels ample production for the type of player he is, and for only $7 million. He has a similar club option that will likely be picked up. Then the question returns: Do the Angels get a new second baseman, or do they get another third baseman and move Escobar to second base?

This is not a bad idea. Even though Escobar has never played second base in the Big Leagues, he’s a good enough athlete to make the transition, and it would definitely shorten the range and throwing distance required of him that he’s botched at times during the season. There was a time when Escobar was actually a very valuable defender. But that has regressed, especially with him moving to third base.

So what options are there on the market? Well, a few, quite surprisingly. David Freese was there but he got extended by the Pirates. But then there’s under-the-radar options in the form of Aaron Hill and Martin Prado. Both players are having fine seasons for their respective ball clubs in 2016, especially Prado. Better yet, both these guys are listed as multi-position players at second base, third base, and outfield. They’re in the third base column because that’s where they’ve spent the majority of their playing time.

I say sign one, or both! Heck, you could even get one of them to play third base, and get Neil Walker to play second base, and then use Escobar in a trade for an affordable starting pitcher. That’s an idea.

Either way, Hill and Prado are guys that would provide the Angels with much diversity, and even a backup emergency option at our next position…

Left Field

Michael Saunders. That’s the way to go. The Angels could close the door on what would’ve been one of the better trades in recent club history, but fell through because of a health issue with a Red Sox prospect in that three team deal with the Blue Jays. This is the guy. He’ll be affordable, and he’s a lefty. Enough said. Moving on to…

Starting Pitcher

This is where it really gets dicey. Taking care of our ‘Around the Big A’ section of the article right here, Garrett Richards has been throwing off a mound and is progressing better than anyone would’ve thought. The likelihood of Tommy John Surgery is still floating in the air. But as of right now, Richards is on track to be ready for the 2017 season.

That being said, the rotation looks like Richards, Matt Shoemaker, Tyler Skaggs, Ricky Nolasco. The fifth spot has internal options, such as newcomer Alex Meyer, long reliever Jhoulys Chacin, and prospect Nate Smith. So there is still some depth there.

But is it enough to make make one feel secure?

Well it probably never will be in this game. But for good measure, I say go out and get Doug Fister. Get those innings. The four the Halos have slated for next season can give a lot of innings. And that’s all they need in a culture where bullpen is king. Eppler could even go out and get Jeremy Hellickson. Heck, if Richards doesn’t come back, those are probably your two guys. Gio Gonzalez is another. Go after them all. Who knows if Shoe will ever be the same after his scary incident?

Just get as many innings as possible, because Eppler will probably have to put the majority of his focus on the next area…

Bullpen

This is actually the strongest area of the free agent list, and just happens to be the most important area of need regardless of what comes out of (or doesn’t come out of) the Angels’ starting rotation. Even if Richards doesn’t return, and the Angels are still stuck with three pitchers with Tommy John Surgery, Eppler could still conduct a massive invasion of what is actually a rich reliever market.

Huston Street will return as the closer, and if healthy he will be just fine there. But what if he isn’t? I think the Halos should at least make an offer to Wade Davis if the Royals don’t exercise his option. They should definitely take a flyer on Mark Melancon as well. Then, there’s Kenley Jansen.

And the elephant in the room is the 100 MPH lefty that some are very hesitant to even consider as an option for the Angels. I’ll leave this one alone.

Any ways, Eppler could easily swoop in and make himself a scary bullpen. But will any of these guys be willing to be in a set-up role? Or a closer by committee? Or will the Angels trade Street? Interesting scenario.

The team could also use another lefty like Brett Cecil. It’s hard to expect guys like Cory Rasmus and Mike Morin to just be handed their jobs back after dealing with so many injuries and control problems on the mound. You also have an up-and-coming Cam Bedrosian who will be in the middle of all of this. In any case, this is a situation that should be handled with the most care this offseason.

Even if the Angels don’t get all they need to fill holes offensively, or even in their rotation, the bullpen will make or break the Angels’ 2017 season. Because even with all of the injuries to their rotation this season, the losses of Smith and Street are probably the biggest blow. Because there are a lot of contenders and would-be contenders out there with all kinds of starting pitching problems, more than I’ve ever seen actually. And most of the teams holding playoff spots, or close to that, are surviving on their bullpens.

The Angels are in last place mainly because their bullpen fell apart in addition to their starting rotation.

So Will It Be Enough?

If the Angels can get the pieces they need to fill holes on their roster, and add depth, then yes. Up to $50 million dollars in average annual value will be falling off the books this offseason. Arbitration will eat into that, so let’s say $35 to $40 million. That’s still a lot. And the club can easily plug holes. I think they should do it regardless of whether or not the team bounces back and contends next season. Because the Angels have one thing that about 20 to 25 other MLB teams don’t have: the ability to just go into the market and try to build a contender while rebuilding and developing their farm system at the same time. That’s the key. The Angels are a high market franchise. So they can do whatever they want. And they likely will this winter. Will they contend in 2017? We won’t know until it happens. Teams rise and fall every year in this game. Ball clubs contend sooner and even later than expected all the time. With the kinds of resources the Angels have, it’s objectively and truly a big “I don’t know”.

 

Eppler’s Domain: 40-Man, Trade Chips, Signings

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The time in the offseason to establish preliminary 40-man rosters has come and gone, and the Angels set their roster last week by adding a handful of newer players while dropping some others who have struggled or just moving on. The following players were added:

Nate Smith (LHP) — the club’s top pitching prospect is one of the next in line to join the Angels’ rotation in 2017, and could be another sleeper just as Nick Tropeano was. But the kid still needs to make his debut and throw pitches off the Major League mound in order for that to happen.

Keynan Middleton (RHP) — Despite his 5.38 career ERA in the minors, his 3.41 ERA in 66 innings in relief could push his stock as emergency bullpen help. Especially since the improvement may have been attributed to his fastball skyrocketing from the low-90’s to 100 MPH!

Austin Adams (RHP) — With a 3.05 ERA in 44 innings in the minors last season, and a 3.27 the year before, Adams could serve as an under-the-radar mid-season bullpen option.

Eduardo Paredes (RHP) — Where did this kid come from? You know, the Angels do get a lot of flack for the state of their farm system, and yet we keep finding effective pitchers coming out of the woodwork who never get any attention. Maybe it’s because they’re often relievers. However, with a 2.53 career ERA in the minors, this could be one of them.

In order to make room for these four hurlers, the club designated pitchers Jose ValdezBlake Parker and Abel De Los Santos for assignment, and outrighted infielder Rey Navarro.

Valdez, held a 4.24 ERA with a 95 MPH heater in 23 1/3 innings with the Angels in 2016. He still has a future with the Halos, but at age 26 the team wants to take a look at some of their younger arms.

Parker split time between the Mariners and Yankees this season, posting a 4.67 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings. He was claimed in early October, but as with Valdez, being 31 years of age is probably working against him. But more-so in Parker’s case.

De Los Santos was claimed from the Reds organization early in the offseason after putting up a 3.54 ERA in 20 1/3 innings at Triple-A. As with the pitchers added to the roster, there is some value here and perhaps just a matter of available space and not falling out of favor. Look for Abel to possibly contribute sometime mid-season in 2017.

Corresponding Moves

The Angels announced last week that right-hander Cory Rasmus and outfielder Shane Robinson were DFA’d, and then rejected their assignments, thus both electing free agency.

Rasmus, 29, is the younger brother of outfielder Colby Rasmus, and was arbitration eligible as a Super Two player. Rasmus showed promise as an effective multi-innings reliever with filthy stuff when the Angels won 98 games and the AL Western Division Title in 2014, but has dealt with several injuries since, resulting in a 5.56 ERA in 45 1/3 innings across the past two years. The nail in the coffin was perhaps the core muscle surgery he had in mid-July, and his continuing struggles in his brief stint with the Big Club in September. This was an arm that could’ve have solved a number of bullpen problems for the Halos. But that’s what happens when injuries take over.

Robinson, 32, tallied 111 plate appearances with the Angels last in 2016, and had a miserable .173/.257/.235 slash line. Not much else to say here.

So that wraps up the 40-man for now. Things will change, however, as signings and trades are likely to happen before Spring Training. There’s also a chance one or two of the players left off the roster will be selected in next month’s Rule 5 Draft. And the Halos could also pick a player of their own, which would push someone off. Time will only tell.

 

More From The GM’s Office

  • Shoe has bee targeted for a while now. Going back to 2014, teams have been calling about him, but of course the Angels were in a pennant race back then, were fighting their way back into it in 2015, and needed innings from starters this past season. But that may have paid off as Matt re-established himself as a tough hurler with a devastating sinker and very low walk rate.
  • Controlling the homeruns was the key, and that meant working to keep his sinker down, which he succeeded in doing. Now the Yankees are calling. The Twins have talked second baseman Brian Dozier. So the club could get some good long-term value for Shoe.
  • But in doing so, the Angels would obviously turn back to the starting pitching market to replace him. Not a bad thing necessarily since The Bearded One is mainly considered a mid-rotation innings eater. And the market is ripe with those types. This could serve as a sell-to-buy scenario, similar to the Mark Trumbo trade. Billy Eppler is a smart guy, so he’d probably pull a smooth one with this. If it happens.
  • Tyler Skaggs has also been mentioned in trade talks. He could be a more realistic option to center a package around because of his age.

  • Arica, 26, doesn’t have much to brag about with a .243 / .319 / .340 slash line in the minors. But this is another Eppler baby, as Francisco was with the Yankees organization to start his career. He was last with the Marlins organization until this past season. Basically an emergency catching option, and to round out the position at Triple-A Salt Lake.
  • Hernandez, 24, is another reliever the Angels could call on mid-season to help if anything goes wrong. With the Orioles organization his whole career, he’s been up and down with a 4.39 career ERA in the minors. However, a 3.67 ERA in 61 innings in 2016 could be a sign of progression for another failed prospect, for which the Halos have a reputation for maximizing value.

Eppler’s Domain: Bailey, DL, Rasmus, Second Base

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For the past several years, Andrew Bailey was a reliever I had wanted the Angels to get to help address their bullpen woes that have been their biggest weakness on the field since 2010. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, and the former 2009 Rookie of the Year stepped into the injury abyss. He wasn’t heard from much for a few years, and then the Angels came knocking on his door this past August while he was struggling in his comeback with the Philadelphia Phillies.

He changed squads, and the results were better than even I expected.

In 11 1/3 innings, Bailey posted a 2.38 ERA with eight strikeouts and just two walks and six saves. The righty became the Angels’ new closer after a season-long ninth inning scavenger hunt.

I actually found myself hoping the club would re-sign him. And then this happened today…

The deal is worth $1 million, and has incentives tied to his ability to be the Angels’ closer. This would be a huge steal for the team and a bullpen that struggled most of the season.

Things won’t come that easy, however. Huston Street has been the Halos’ primary closer when healthy. But he’s been told he will have to fight with Cam Bedrosian for the job this spring.

And that was before Bailey signed his contract…

 

More From the GM’s Office

  • That’s a lot of players coming off the disabled list. This is mainly to begin rounding out the 40-man roster going into next season.
  • Most likely, Heaney will be put back on the 60-day DL to start the season so the Halos can use that spot for depth in 2017, as the lefty likely won’t be back until Opening Day 2018.
  • Same goes for Tropeano. Richards, Shoe, and Street should all be ready, however.
  • Rasmus was DFA’d to make room. But we’re hoping he accepts his assignment to work out the kinks after core muscle surgery. The kid has good stuff and should be an effective reliever like he was in 2014 for the Halos when healthy.

 

  • That’s how the Angels are looking at the situation. They need lefty bats, and there are plenty of affordable options out there that are productive without being flashy.
  • Derek Dietrich is the Miami Marlins‘ second baseman, also with the ability to play third base and left field. He also hits lefty, and is has a pretty good glove.
    • Oh, and he’s one of those Billy Beane-type players who draws a lot of walks, which helps him post a eyebrow-raising .279 / .374 / .425 slash line, with a 119 OPS+ and a 2.4 WAR in his first full season in 2016.
    • Plus, with barely making above the league minimum heading into his first year of arbitration, the Halos could save mightily to fill second base here, and then spend bigger money on pitching.
    • Not bad, kid. I say go for it!
  • Scooter Gennett is one that fans have quietly been asking about. Currently with the Milwaukee Brewers, Scooter is less of a walk machine and more of an aggressive and prototypical second baseman-type, but with some pop.
    • With three full seasons under his belt out of four total, this lefty hitting youngster has a .279 / .318 / .420 career slash line with a 162-game average of 12 homeruns a season, and a 99 OPS+.So he’s basically a league average hitter overall, but he averages a 2.5 WAR per 162 games, and his defense is back and forth, but averages a 0.6 dWAR.
    • So he’s serviceable with the glove.
    • Like Dietrich, Gennett also makes just above the league minimum, and is in his first year of arbitration.
    • Not a particularly great option, as he’s league average and only exclusive to second base. But he would be just fine for the Halos if acquired.
  • Cesar Hernandez can fly. With the Phillies in 2016, he had 13 triples in 2016 to lead the National League. But he doesn’t have any power. The Angels could use some more of that, as they were fourteenth in the American League in homers.
    • Cesar is a switch-hitter, and can take a walk. Although he doesn’t draw them quite as much as Dietrich. Hernandez is also a base stealer. The Halos definitely need that.
    • With a .294 / .371 / .393 slash line, a 107 OPS+, and a 3.3 WAR, the Venezuelan native had his best season out of four in the Big Leagues. His career line is .281 / .350 / .361, with a 96 OPS+, averaging 16 stolen bases, and a 2.1 WAR.
    • Hernandez right at the same financial level as the first two: barely above league minimum and heading into his first arbitration.
    • He fits the bill as well.
  • At first glance, I was intrigued by Luis Valbuena off the free agent market, as he’s listed under second base on the MLB Trade Rumors free agent list. But then this happened…

  • Scratch that one… So which of the first three should the Halos go for? I’m fine with all three. But out of preference, I’m actually torn between Dietrich and Hernandez.
  • Then of course there’s my number one pick at second base whom everyone is fully aware of (or should be!): Neil Walker.
  • And then there’s this…

 

  • Unless the Halos stick with the Jett Bandy / Carlos Perez combo, I think that one is probably between Jason Castro, Ryan Hanigan, Donier Navarro, Nick Hundley, and Wilson Ramos. They’re all pretty much the same at the plate, give or take. Basically like re-signing Geovany Soto. Defense varies as well. But that isn’t a problem anymore behind the plate.
  • As with second base, the Angels are just looking for at least league average production (or better if possible) at catcher. The big guns in the lineup are already accounted for.

 

  • So who will the Angels sign? MLB Trade Rumors has their Top 50 Free Agent Predictions. And they have the Angels signing Ivan Nova, Nick Hundley, and Chase Utley.
  • This is going to be a very busy offseason for the Halos!

Offseason Tracker: Maybin, Escobar, Campos

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The Angels have needed an everyday left fielder ever since Garret Anderson left…

That’s a long time. They did acquire one in 2011, but that turned out to be the biggest bust in franchise history. Platooning has been the approach for most part in that span. However, production has just been stale there for a long time.

Enter Cameron Maybin.

Acquired the day after the glorious tale of the 2016 Chicago Cubs came to a climactic end, Angels GM Billy Eppler got on his horse and immediately took Maybin from the Detroit Tigers for Halos pitching prospect Victor Alcantara.

The deal was met with mixed reviews at first. Now many are warming up to it.

Maybin, 29, is a right-handed hitter with a formidable .259 / .322 / . 373 career slash line for the type of player he is, and averages 27 stolen bases and a slightly below average 93 OPS+.

The former Tiger is also a bit injury prone. But then again, so is every player to an extent. In 94 games in 2016, Maybin hit .315 / .383 / .418 with 15 stolen bases and a 120 OPS+, the best of his career.

So offensively he’s what the Angels need: a speedster with slightly above league average hitting ability. Defensively, a move to left field (a smaller work area) from center field (where Mike Trout dwells) could help improve his liabilities with the glove.

Eppler has already confirmed that Maybin will be the team’s everyday left fielder. There is still a possibility some depth may be added on to fill in voided playing time if needed.

There is also the presence of Jefry Marte. What do the Angels do with him?

What the Halos gave up in return is just simply salary dump trade fodder. Alcantara has little control of his blazing fastball and has average secondary pitches that aren’t enough for him to be a Major League starter. Maybe he’ll become a decent reliever.

So with that, and Maybin having the best averages of his career this past season, along with his $9 million dollar option, this move makes a lot of sense for the Angels. And is a bit of a steal.

If fans are wondering why the club went for a stop-gap instead of a long term investment, well go ahead and search the 2017-2018 free agent list. Maybin is probably one of the more perfect short term options to hold us over until that talent pool is open for business.

In the meantime, the Angels have more better hitting ability in left field again, and more speed on the bases. That’s what they’ve needed for a long time.

 

More From the GM’s Office

  • This was an expected move, as the Angels need to keep third base locked down. At least for now. With two .300+ hitting seasons in a row now, and no third base market to speak of, this is a wise move for the Halos.
  • There has been some questions raised about whether or not the Halos will just pick up the option and then trade Yunel for pitching. After all, they have Jefry Marte who had a fine breakout season after being picked up as a failed top prospect. Luis Valbuena is also lurking on the market right now. But these are not guarantees. With Yunel Escobar, we at least know what we’re getting. Or, perhaps they’ll deal Marte along with a CJ Cron for pitching?
  • In any case, Escobar will return and then Mike Scioscia will decide whether or not he’ll move the third baseman from the leadoff spot in favor of Cameron Maybin.

  • Here is the other reason fans are warming up to the Cameron Maybin deal. Campos was claimed off waivers from the Arizona Diamondbacks the day after that trade, and it turns out the young righty is a better prospect than Alcantara. He actually has good stuff all around, and has many more good innings logged as a starting pitcher.
  • There is one snag, however. Campos is recovering from a broken arm. Although having all offseason to recover will give him and the Halos time. Campos still needs a season in AAA, as he has only one appearance at that level. But he also had a 5 2/3 inning appearance in the Big Leagues with Arizona that saved their bullpen in an August 27 blowout. So Vincente’s timeline may turn out to be quicker than one might think.
  • Regardless, the Angels have picked up yet another young starting pitching prospect. And that’s a dire need considering recent losses to Tommy John Surgery. It looks like Billy Eppler is determined to make sure there is a pipeline of young starting pitching flowing at all times.

CJ Cron To Have Surgery On Hand

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Well, if it isn’t that good ole’ injury bug again. This time he’s decided that since enough is enough for the Angels and so many ailing players, that he’s picking on a previous victim: CJ Cron. How dare he! But the injury bug’s days are numbers, as this time there isn’t much to worry about.

The young slugger is undergoing an arthroscopic procedure to clean up debris near his right thumb. This fragments have built up over time after CJ broke his hand in July and missed about two months of the 2016 season. He returned and it was like he never left. The hand was fine and he continued to slug his way into the Halos’ central core.

The recovery time for this one is six to eight weeks. Nothing to be scared about. Cron will be ready for spring training 2017. And he’ll look to have his first big full season with the Angels.

As for the injury bug, we’re onto you pal! Richards will be back. And nice try with Calhoun!

We got this!

 

More From Around The Big A

Official Statement from the Angels…

 

Congratulations Kole Calhoun!