The LA Angels have made some improvements to their team this off-season. Not as many as most fans would like, especially on the pitching side, but what will their bench look like this season?
The LA Angels made a big splash in free agency by signing the most sought after offensive player on the board in third baseman Anthony Rendon. Rendon was close to being named the NL MVP finishing third behind the Brewers Christian Yelich and the winner Dodgers Cody Bellinger. What this move did beside giving the Angels a huge bat that will fit in nicely in the middle of the Angels order, is it gave them a bonafide third baseman who they can count on to play almost every game.
What the Rendon signing also did was strengthen the Angels bench as they will most likely have.a platoon situation at second base now with Tommy La Stella, David Fletcher, and Luis Rengifo all getting playing time. That means on any given day the Angels could have two of those three players coming off the bench that new manager Joe Maddon will have at his disposal.
With La Stella he can play second or third base as can Rengifo, who can also play shortstop. David Fletcher is the most versatile of the trio as he can play second, third, short, and the corner outfield positions which will help to keep him in the line-up most every day even when he is not playing second base.
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Beside this infield trio Matt Thaiss and Jared Walsh, as well as Taylor Ward will vie for probably one maybe two roster spots. Thaiss can play first or third base and will probably be the main platoon option with Albert Pujols especially since he is left-handed. Thaiss struggled mightily at third base so that will be an option Joe Maddon may not take very often in deploying Thaiss at.
Jared Walsh is interesting because he can play first and also double as a left-handed reliever out of the bullpen, which could make him more valuable to the team as well. As for Taylor Ward he has worked hard this past season to learn to play the outfield as well as third base and even a little bit at first base. If Ward can prove that he can hit major league pitching and play decently in the field at those positions I mentioned he could gain a roster spot. All three of the corner infield options for the Angels have some power that could be valuable off the bench in the late innings when they are not in the starting line-up.
The Angels are pretty thin at the catching spot with only journeyman Anthony Bemboom and defensive specialist Max Stassi right now. While it may not be ideal Bemboom and Stassi could form a catching lefty-righty platoon situation if the Angels don’t side a solid free agent catcher this Winter.
The final roster spot will most likely go for a fourth outfielder. If Jo Adell does not make the roster out of Spring Training most likely Brian Goodwin would be the every day right fielder. However, Michael Hermosillo could split time with Goodwin in another lefty-righty platoon situation. The pair could also give Justin Upton or Mike Trout a day off here and there. With David Fletcher and potentially Taylor Ward or even Jared Walsh also potentially seeing time in the outfield if needed.
The Angels at most will probably keep 15 position players on the new 26-man roster that will be employed in 2020 (MLB added one extra roster spot for each team). So here is a list of the Angels potential 15-man position player roster for 2020 as it stands now.
1B – Albert Pujols
1B – Matt Thaiss
2B – David Fletcher
2B – Tommy La Stella
Utility infielder – Luis Rengifo
3B – Anthony Rendon
C – Max Stassi
C – Anthony Bemboom
SS – Andrelton Simmons
DH – Shohei Ohtani
LF – Justin Upton
CF – Mike Trout
RF – Brian Goodwin (if Jo Adell doesn’t start season in Anaheim)
Utility OF – Michael Hermosillo
Utility – Taylor Ward or Jared Walsh (if Angels decide to keep 15)
The Angels will probably sign a starting catcher still which will replace either Bemboom or Stassi on the roster. Also if Jo Adell is deemed ready to start the season in Anaheim that will eliminate Michael Hermosillo or Brian Goodwin from the roster and most likely Jared Walsh and Taylor Ward as well.
With the versatility that most of the Angels potential bench players have it may allow them to even shorten the position player part of the roster to 13 so the Angels could keep a few extra bullpen arms.
These are some of the many questions manager Joe Maddon and his staff will have to decide when developing a final roster to go into Opening Day. The Angels will most likely go with a six-man starting rotation and six bullpen arms, but they could increase to seven relievers if they want a little more depth. It will help after the first month of the season when Shohei Ohtani will be eligible as both a pitcher and a hitter. (A new baseball rule has it where a pitcher has to throw 20 innings in a season before being eligible to be a two-way player and take up only one roster spot).
The probable pitching staff at the moment looks like this:
SP – Andrew Heaney
SP – Shohei Ohtani
SP – Julio Teheran
SP – Griffin Canning
SP – Dylan Bundy
SP – Patrick Sandoval
SP/RP – Felix Pena
RP – Cam Bedrosian
RP – Justin Anderson
RP – Ty Buttrey
RP – Noe Ramirez
RP – Keynan Middleton
CP – Hansel Robles
We will just have to wait and see how things play out both offensively and with the pitchers. If the Angels add another starter then that will bump someone else off the roster. Let’s see what the next six weeks will hold going into Spring Training as the Angels could still make a move or two that could change the complexion of the roster.