Only 2 years ago, the “Klubot” was a consensus top 10, and most times top 5, starting pitcher in the league. Pitching to the tune of a 2.89 ERA in 215 IP in 2018, there was no better pitcher to have at your disposal for a big game. 2 years later, Kluber seems to of been all but forgotten in the long list of available starting pitchers. Coming off of major shoulder surgery, Kluber is expected to sign somewhere in the range of 1 year at $12M, a very reasonable and worthwhile risk for the Angels to take. Kluber would provide veteran experience for a young staff, and a high ceiling if he can reach anywhere near his 2014-2018 form, in which he threw 235.2, 222, 215, 203.2, and 215 innings respectively.
Angels fans know “The Big Maple” well after spending his 2013-2018 campaigns with the Mariners. After being shipped off to the Yankees, Paxton battled the injury bug in 2020 before being shut down for the remainder of the season with a 6.64 ERA in 20.1 innings pitched to his name. Expected to sign in the neighborhood of 2 yrs, $30M, Paxton could slide nicely into the heart of the Angels pitching rotation while facing lineups he knows very well from his time in the AL West.
Selected 42nd overall by the Angels in the 2009 MLB draft, Richards grew up in the minor leagues with Mike Trout, and he and Trout are good friends to this day. A career ERA of 3.62 over 804.2 innings is indicative of the kind of stuff that Richards has, and his last 6 outings in 2020 – 16.1 IP, 5 ERs & 17Ks over 2 starts and 4 relief appearances – could suggest that his elbow is almost fully recovered from Tommy John surgery. Bringing Richards back to a ballpark where he is comfortable, has established friendships throughout the team and organization, and betting on him being able to be a quality middle of the rotation arm is too good of a situation not to bet on.