What will the LA Angels do about filling out their roster?


The LA Angels have constructed a very solid team for 2018 with a flurry of moves this off-season.  On their 40-man roster the Angels have seven players with major league experience and one prospect knocking on the door.

The question now becomes how will the LA Angels fill out their roster of bench players.  Considering the Angels are currently planning to go with a 6-man starting rotation and they will go with at least a six and possibly a seven-man bullpen that leaves the bench with three to four spots.

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The depth the Angels have is a good problem to have, but they will have some tough decisions come roster cutdown time in late March.  So let’s look at the potential players and their odds to make the opening day roster just based on versatility and need for certain positions.

With Martin Maldonado almost assuredly being the starting catcher for the Angels there will be a battle for the back-up catcher position between Carlos Perez and Juan Graterol both of whom have major league experience.  Perez has served as a starting catcher three different times over the past three years, but never can see to hold on to it.  Graterol on the other hand has never been more than a back-up the last 2 years.

My nod goes to Carlos Perez this time, because of both experience and the numbers he put up in Triple-A last season.  While Perez was only 2 for 20 in the majors in 2017, he hit .352 with an OBP of .423 in 68 games in Salt Lake City. In addition he was a Gold Glove Finalist in 2016.  Graterol was serviceable but his numbers .202 average and 10 RBIs were nothing to write home about.

The utility infielder position has two candidates with Nolan Fontana and Kaleb Cowart.  Both are much better with their gloves than their bats, but Cowart gets my nod.  Fontana was 1 for 20 with a home run in limited action and can only play shortstop and second.

Cowart on the other hand got action at both second and third base and even played a few innings at first base over the past two years with the Angels.  Cowart’ hitting has not been spectacular either but he showed some growth in 2017 hitting .225 in 102 at-bats with 3 homers and 11 RBIs with four stolen bases and he is a switch-hitter.

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The only outfielder as of right now that the Angels have on their 40-man roster besides the three starters Calhoun, Trout, and Upton, is prospect Michael Hermosillo. Hermosillo has no major league experience, but could crack the roster with a strong Spring Training, provided the Angels don’t make a move to acquire someone before then.

In four minor league seasons Hermosillo has 18 homers and 131 RBIsin 1241 at-bats.  His career average is .268 with a .368 OBP.  He has stolen 80 bases as well. He can play both right and left field, but centerfield may be a stretch for him.

The only other outfield option in-house is Jerry Marte who played some left field two years ago.  Marte had a great first season in 2016 hitting .249 with 14 homers and 49 RBIs, but he could not follow that up last season.  Marte hit only .173 with four homers and 14 RBIs in 127 at-bats in 2017.  Will he get another chance remains to be seen.

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Finally the Angels have a dilemma at first base as they have four first basemen on the roster the most of which will be kept is two.  Marte is very unlikely to make the cut unless he improves his outfield defense and has a tremendous Spring at the plate.

This leaves Albert Pujols, C.J. Cron, and Luis Valbuena to fight for the two spots.  We all know Pujols will win one spot no matter what unless he is injured.

As for the second spot it will be a crapshoot, but more than likely Valbuena will win out due to the fact that he is a lefty bat with some pop, and he can play both first and third base whereas Cron only has experience at first base.

Next: What will the 2018 Angels batting line-up look like?

Again this could change if the Angels make a trade or have a non-roster player show out during Spring Training.  It will be quite a battle this Spring for these last four roster spots.  Stay Tuned!!!!