The Los Angeles Angels are forming their roster for Spring Training. You can expect more moves to come heading into February.
The Los Angeles Angels made the signing of Luis Valbuena official yesterday. According to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Valbuena will predominantly play the first base position. This means that C.J. Cron could be on the trading block soon.
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What’s unclear is how the Angels will use Valbuena in 2018. With Yunel Escobar set to become a free agent at this season’s end, the Angels could move Valbuena from first to third for 2018.
Still, questions remain about GM Billy Eppler’s chess moves with the Angels. One question is will the Angels attempt to deal Escobar or Cron before the trade deadline?
If you recall last season, there were rumblings that the Angels were actively shopping Escobar. With no deal made, Escobar remains the Angels only option at third. Valbuena will likely share first base duties with Cron this season. If the Angels moved Escobar this season, Valbuena would become the everyday third baseman.
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Another major question is should the Angels attempt to lure in a starting pitcher this season? The Angels have some decent pitchers, however, the narrative remains that the Angels need another starting pitcher to strengthen the rotation. Although, there hasn’t been any traction on this notion as of yet.
Pitchers and catchers will report to Tempe Arizona in just under three weeks. Could the Angels have a different starting rotation than what’s already being predicted? I would suspect for the Angels to look for another reliever that could sneak into the starting rotation. However, there are multiple players that are in line to compete for a starting nod.
J.C. Ramirez will have a chance to earn that fifth roster spot. Ramirez’s 2.91 ERA in 46 innings last season is the reason why Eppler is giving him a chance to earn the starting job this season. Another interesting battle within the Angels Spring Training will be the closer role. Huston Street will have to compete with Andrew Bailey and Cam Bedrosian for the job.
Another thing to keep in mind is the Angels are still $12 million under the tax for the 2017 season. This means they still have some wiggle room to sign another free agent player without being penalized at the end of the season. However, I firmly believe Eppler will do all that he can to keep the Angels under the tax.
Keeping the Angels competitive and financially sound is the name of the game. If Eppler succeeds this season, you could see the movie “Moneyball 2” in production shortly thereafter. You could cast the role of Eppler to actor/comic Dane Cook, they look just alike. Nevertheless, the Angels are going to have much more depth in 2017 than they did in 2016.
While there is much more to be discovered with the Angels before Opening Day, there is hope going into this season. The AL West race will be tight again this season and the Angels will be in a prime position to surprise the division and league.