Way-Too-Early LA Angels Roster Prediction: Moneyball Version
By Vincent Page
The LA Angels still have 97 days until Spring Training begins. However, it’s never too soon to project the Opening Day roster. This is the first of three roster predictions, with this one projecting the roster should a “moneyball” offseason take place.
The LA Angels and Billy Eppler have played this game before. With the albatross contracts of Albert Pujols and Justin Upton, they have had to be very careful with their money. Now, the Angels are facing another offseason, but have a little money to spend (roughly $25 million).
This version of the roster prediction is based on the idea that Eppler and Co. avoid tossing a large portion of their money at one or two players, but instead choose to fill in as many holes as possible with discount deals. This version also features no trades.
-represents a free agent signing*
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Despite reports of having interest in signing a free agent catcher, the Halos avoid doing so in this prediction. Jose Briceno showed flashes in 2018, and Kevan Smith has significant upside, meaning they role with the duo into 2019.
- Albert Pujols
- Zack Cozart
- Mike Moustakas
This one features one free agent signing, in the form of third baseman Mike Moustakas. Moustakas could be a value signing if the Angels really do intend to move toward a more analytical strategy. He could platoon at first base with Pujols while also providing depth for Cozart at third. Cozart will see time all over the infield, and if moved away from third, Moustakas could fill in there as well.
Many fans will want to have seen Taylor Ward here, but if Moustakas is brought in, Ward will have to show he has more versatility than he did in 2018, where he was restricted to only playing third.
These two will be the primary shortstop-second base duo in 2018. While the Angels could explore someone in free agency who can play middle infield and some outfield, in this version the Angels rely on Fletcher and Simmons, with Cozart and Ward serving as the primary backups, to control the middle of the infield.
- Mike Trout
- Justin Upton
- Kole Calhoun
- Peter Bourjos
Mike Trout isn’t going anywhere, no matter how badly the national media wants to convince you he might be traded. Upton and Calhoun both have their deficiencies, but they are both still slated to be the everyday starters in the corners. Bourjos does have the possibility of serving as a platoon with Calhoun, as he is another rangy outfielder. Calhoun was atrocious against lefties in 2018 (and his entire career), and Bourjos could be used as an option when a southpaw takes the mound.
Does this one need explanation? Ohtani isn’t taking the mound next year, so he is set up to be the everyday DH for the Halos. And man, it is going to be beautiful.
- LHP Tyler Skaggs
- LHP Andrew Heaney
- RHP Matt Shoemaker
- LHP J.A Happ
- RHP Jaime Barria
- RHP Nick Tropeano
The Angels opted for a six-man rotation last year to help Ohtani’s adjustment to the MLB lifestyle. Despite him not pitching, it would be smart to continue this trend in 2019. Tyler Skaggs and Andrew Heaney are easily the top-two in the rotation, and will be followed closely by Matt Shoemaker.
Jaime Barria was solid last year in his rookie season, and may even offer some upside as a potential ace in the years to come. Nick Tropeano has battled injuries for years, but could be ready for his first healthy season in a long time come 2019.
The only new addition here is J.A Happ, who was a stud last season for the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees. While Happ is not the ace-level pitcher Halo fans want, he is still a solid option on the free agent market, and a cheap one at that.
Once he was traded to the Yankees, he started 11 games and dominated with a 2.69 ERA. With nine of those games coming in hitter ballparks (Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, and Baltimore), he could see an even bigger boost if he pitches at The Big A, a notorious pitchers’ ballpark.
- RHP Blake Parker
- LHP Jose Alvarez
- RHP Cam Bedrosian
- RHP Justin Anderson
- RHP Noe Ramirez
- RHP Jesse Chavez
- RHP Blake Wood
The bullpen is likely going to look very similar in 2019. This is a position group the Angels could invest in, and here they bring back Jesse Chavez, who dominated in 2018 for the Rangers and Cubs.
Blake Parker (if he isn’t traded), Jose Alvarez, and Chavez could form a deadly trio of relievers. Justin Anderson, Noe Ramirez, and Blake Wood would be the second tier of relievers who can fill any role they’re asked to, while Cam Bedrosian is facing a career-defining season in 2019.
Overall, this roster of 25 players is not the offseason Angels fans are hoping for. There are no big signings, but that version will be coming in the next post of this series, as we look at what the team could look like if they truly do go all in on 2019.