LA Angels: The Moves That Need to Be Made at The Winter Meetings
The Winter Meetings began on Sunday in San Diego, where LA Angels general managers and GMs from other teams, agents, players, and executives all meet in a hotel throughout the week.
This is a great opportunity for many teams, including the LA Angels, to get some progress moving forward in terms of signing key free agents, and making deals. Let’s look at some ideas that I came up with that I think may happen during these winter meetings that effect the Angels and other teams.
1. Top Free Agents don’t sign
As much as I would love for the Angels to walk out of the winter meetings with their head held up high knowing they either got Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg, I still don’t think they will be signed by the end of the meetings. It was reported from Jon Heyman that teams would be submitting their offers on Gerrit Cole during the start of the winter meetings which will generate some movement in these signings, and the Angels are expected to be right in the mix with the other top teams.
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With the payroll backing of Arte Moreno, Billy Eppler may be going up against his former mentor in Brian Cashman of the New York Yankees which will hopefully see Eppler out on top considering this year they are many that believe he will go hard for the top-tier starting pitcher market. I believe that the best case scenario for the Angels would be the that they walk out of the winter meetings being the favorite for Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg, as I strongly think that their agent, Scott Boras, will still wait for better offers from teams and more discussions. As it will be a bidding war to see who walks out with the top two starting pitchers on the free agent market, I have already written a previous article about how I believe the Angels should go all in and I still believe in that if the Angels want to be aggressive.
2. Angels acquire a catcher
The other pressing need the Angels need to address this offseason is at the catchers position which it may seem clear that they are looking to acquire some talent because they let go of Kevan Smith. There are still plenty of catchers that are still available and I do believe that the Angels will walk out of the winter meetings with one that will be the for sure starting catcher at the start of the season. The most logical choice that comes to mind is Martin Maldonado because of his relationship with the Angels in the past and things always seem to be on good terms between him and the organization.
Signing Maldonado could also help with getting the top free agent Gerrit Cole because they were on the same team last year, the Houston Astros and Maldonado had caught Cole which there could be a good relationship there. The catchers market seemed to move quickly with the two top free agents already off the board in Yasmani Grandal and Travis d’Arnaud, so the Angels may move just as quick during the meetings to get one for the starting season.
3. Angels acquire a third basemen
As of right now the only two players the Angels have that can field third base are Taylor Ward and David Fletcher, with Zack Cozart still recovering from a shoulder injury. This could mean that an upgrade at that position could be in the works as I believe that the Angels could definitely use an improvement in production from that position. Josh Donaldson could definitely be a possibility as he is looking for a multi-year deal with the good comeback with the Braves last season finishing with a .258 batting average, 94 runs batted in, and 37 home-runs.
Of course Billy Eppler has more money to spend with the payroll increasing according to Arte Moreno himself, so it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if the Angels make a run at Donaldson should be price be right. I don’t think Anthony Rendon is in the Angels plans as most of the money the Angels would want to spend will be committed to Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg which is why Josh Donaldson could be a good move if the Angels want to acquire that sort of talent. The hardest thing that would come from signing Donaldson is the multi-year contract that he seems to be looking for as he is going into his age 35 season and if he starts to show signs of regression, then the Angel may be stuck with him looking to move his contract.
4. A big trade is on the way
The boldest prediction that I can make and that I could possibly see is that the Angels are gearing up for some type of big trade. While I don’t think the big trade will come in the form of Mookie Betts as I would imagine the price is too high and the Angels won’t be willing to meet those demands, there are other moves the Angels could seek that will still shock many. One trade that could be considered is the Angels trade for Kris Bryant from the Cubs and while the Cubs will look for a good return as they should, I believe the Angels will have enough to make it happen. The Angels could package a group of minor leaguers with Brandon Marsh leading that group because he’s our second-best prospect in terms of the depth chart and Jo Adell should be assumed off the table for discussion.
While I have favored sticking with Brandon Marsh and building a success outfield with Marsh in left, Trout in center, and Adell in right, I may have to favor the trade even more if Kris Bryant is the one the Angels will be getting. The Cubs may want to throw Bryant’s name out there if teams can’t get either Anthony Rendon or Josh Donaldson so it would take the signing of both those two free agents until clubs start calling the Cubs.
This trade could benefit both teams as the Angels will be able to upgrade at third base and the Cubs will be able to reload on prospects with Brandon Marsh being a key part of their outfield and the start with a fire sale in Chicago in the hopes for a quick restart.