This headline may alarm many LA Angels fans, and some may call me stupid for saying this, but if you give me a chance to explain you will understand where I am coming from.
The LA Angels only have one real major league catcher in their system at this moment which is the one and only Max Stassi. That is probably not too comforting to most Angel fans, me included. Max Stassi is a good solid back-up catcher who can be counted on to play one to two games each week. Counting on Stassi more than that is not a very smart move.
With this being said I will restate my original thesis statement. The LA Angels first priority at the Winter Meetings should be acquiring a solid starting catcher. Let me give you a news flash: At the Winter Meetings Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg are not signing. I honestly would be surprised if either of them signs before Christmas, probably not even New Year’s Day. So the most that we will probably see this week is the Angels making a trade possibly for a catcher or possibly a lesser pitcher than Cole or Strasburg, or signing a free agent catcher.
In order for the Angels to sign a catcher they have to be willing to part with at least six to ten million dollars per season. The Angels could also go the trade route to acquire a good catcher as well. The Angels have been said to be interested in CUbs catcher Wilson Contreras which could be a multiple-year solution (Contreras is under club control through 2022). Contreras is scheduled to make 4.5 million dollars in 2020 which is a very low-budget solution that could pay great dividends.
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The problem is Contreras is being shopped for multiple high-level prospects from the team who acquires him and the Angels may not want to part with those type of players. If the Angels could get Contreras for Brandon Marsh and maybe a couple of low-level pitching prospects like say a Robinson Pina, Oliver Ortega, or Aaron Hernandez. They could even throw in a major-league ready prospect like Michael Hermosillo.
Other catchers the Angels could trade for could be Wilson Ramos of the Mets, although they may not being willing to deal him. The right package of prospects could entice the Mets to play Let’s Make A Deal. Ramos has two years left on his deal for 19 million dollars. J.T. Realmuto of the Phillies could be someone else the Angels could target as he is only signed through 2020 at 10 million dollars. The same type of deal I mentioned to get Contreras could possibly net Ramos. For Realmuto it could be a little less since he has only next year left on his deal he signed with the Phillies in 2019.
If the Angels don’t want to part with any prospects there are still a few good catchers available in free agency. Robinson Chirinos could be a good fit as could Jason Castro. Yan Gomes, and Russell Martin are also decent options. However the best option I think is Martin Maldonado. He will be the best defensive catcher on the market. In addition he would be great to help the young Angel pitchers such as Griffin Canning, Shohei Ohtani, and Patrick Sandoval. Not only that Gerrit Cole trusts him as well which could give them a leg up in their pursuit of Cole.
Which door will the Angels try and open is anyone’s guess, but knowing Billy Eppler he is already exploring some of if not all of these options, plus some not mentioned here in this article.. It will be an interesting week. Stay tuned to see what happens and analysis of what moves the Angels make this week and all of the off-season.