The Los Angeles Angels will enter the 2024 season with drastically lower expectations. They might go out and sign a high-end free agent or even two, but they lost Shohei Ohtani. Losing the MVP is an extremely tough pill to swallow, and no matter how much they say they're ready to win without him, it's really hard to believe it when they couldn't win with him.
The Angels were a team that some expected to either make or come closr to making the playoffs. They obviously had some of the best star power in the league with Ohtani and Mike Trout, and did what many believed would be a nice job adding pieces around them like Brandon Drury, Tyler Anderson, Hunter Renfroe, and Carlos Estevez to name a few. We know the Angels fell well short of their goals, and their goals for this season should be different.
This should be treated as a bit of an evaluation year for the Angels. They should see what they have with their young players, figuring out who is worth keeping around for the long haul and who is not. The Angels hope to be competitive, but competing in the difficult AL West is not going to be easy. Some players they count on will perform well, but others might start the year in the majors and not last the whole season.
1) Adam Kolarek
The first move the Angels made this offseason was a bit of a puzzler, signing Adam Kolarek to a one-year deal. Kolarek has been good in the past and has always been great at getting left-handed hitters out, but the Angels guaranteeing him a MLB deal is what was surprising here.
The southpaw made just five MLB appearances in totality in 2023 and has made just 30 since the start of the 2021 campaign. The reason for that is he simply hasn't been effective in this timespan, posting a 4.87 ERA in the last three years combined. With the three-batter rule in place, Kolarek isn't as good of a fit in a bullpen as he's had a ton of trouble getting right-handed hitters out. He's good to go against a lefty, but if a righty is due up after, that's trouble.
Adding Kolarek for depth purposes would've been fine, but that's not really what this is. The reason why, is because the Angels guaranteed him a MLB deal and he's out of options. The team cannot do what they'll likely do with Zach Plesac, which is essentially give him a tad more than the league minimum and keep him in the minors as depth, since he's out of options.
The Kolarek deal is similar to the one the Angels gave Brett Phillips. A MLB deal to a player who's a fringe MLB player at best, but since he's out of options they won't DFA him before the season starts. It's a decent enough add because this bullpen has no other lefties other than Jose Suarez, but it's hard to see Kolarek lasting the whole season unless he can suddenly get righties out.