The LA Angels are into full Spring Training mode as of Friday, with pitchers and catchers getting used to the Tempe air. Position players reporting is right around the corner, and Friday, in a good way, was a relatively slow day for the Angels.
Billy Eppler Adds New Reliever
When Billy Eppler traded left-handed specialist José Alvarez earlier this offseason for flamethrower Luis Garcia, fans were questioning the move. However, Eppler silenced any critics of the trade today with the signing of relief pitcher Dan Jennings.
Jennings has posted a 2.96 ERA over the course of his 7-year career, and was signed to a minor league contract by the Angels. He has been rather reliable, and had a solid season for the Milwaukee Brewers last season. The Brewers ultimately non-tendered Jennings, who the Angels will pay $1 million should he make the roster.
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In the bullpen, Williams Jerez is the only left-handed candidate, and he has minimal experience. While each of the right-handed bullpen candidates have their positives, Jennings has an inside track to being apart of the Opening Day squad given the need for at least one lefty. Jerez, his only real competition, only has 15 career innings pitched.
JC Ramirez Takes Big Step in Rehab
For the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery last year, starting pitcher JC Ramirez threw to a squatted catcher during a bullpen on Friday. He threw 45 total pitches, with the final 30 to a catcher in his stance. No batter was standing in.
While it may seem minor, throwing to a squatted catcher is a jump in rehab, given the downward slope the ball travels on. Ramirez did not throw off the mound and is still not throwing off the mound, but he is progressing at a rate solid enough that his target date for return in June is still reasonable.
Angels Once Again Linked to Mike Moustakas
Per reports this morning, the Angels have had discussions with free agent infielder Mike Moustakas. The Angels were connected with Moustakas last offseason as well, where there was mutual interest. However, those talks faded once the team brought in Zack Cozart to take over third base.
Moustakas, a California native, is a corner infielder and had a solid role for the Brewers during their playoff run last season. Given Cozart’s versatility, Moustakas could be brought in and give the Angels more options for platooning with his left-handed bat.
However, Billy Eppler stated he had to ask permission from owner Arte Moreno to stretch the budget when the team signed closer Cody Allen last month. So, with the Halos obviously tight with their budget, any signing would be difficult and likely need Moreno’s nod of approval.
While Moustakas would be a welcome addition to the Angels’ bench as they push for the playoffs this season, it would also cap third base prospect Taylor Ward‘s potential role this season. Eppler has put an emphasis on the farm system, but if he doesn’t feel Ward is ready for a role off the bench, a Moustakas signing could be made all the more likely.
More News and Notes from Day Four of Spring Training
- Jim Bowden, a highly respected baseball mind, released his final piece of his Top 200 Prospect Rankings today. Jo Adell came in at #6, with Griffing Canning (62), Brandon Marsh (110), Jordyn Adams (116), Jahmai Jones (124), Luis Rengifo (174), and Jose Suarez (183) also getting recognition.
- The race for the fourth outfield spot seems to be between veteran Peter Bourjos and prospect Michael Hermosillo. Hermosillo revealed yesterday he had surgery to repair a sports hernia that effected him in 2018. He is back at 100% and is hoping to bounce back from an underwhelming debut year.
- Position players will begin reporting over the weekend, with the official first full squad workout on Monday.
- Shohei Ohtani misses pitching, as captured by Maria Torres of the LA Times.