Angels avoided disaster not signing star free agent shortstops

Chicago Cubs v Philadelphia Phillies
Chicago Cubs v Philadelphia Phillies / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages

Heading into this past offseason, the Los Angeles Angels had a gaping hole at the shortstop position. Last season, David Fletcher was supposed to man the position but missed most of it due to injury. Most of the shortstop reps went to Andrew Velazquez. While Velazquez was a Gold Glove-caliber defender, he couldn't hit whatsoever. Angels shortstops were towards or at the bottom in virtually every offensive statistical category at shortstop.

The Angels had lacked a legitimate shortstop for many years heading into the 2022 offseason. This is why ignorant analysts who don't watch the Angels say the team needs Tim Anderson. They might have this offseason, but they don't now. This also got fans excited about the possibility of the Halos bringing in one of the stars on the market. There were four of them after all, and we know Arte Moreno had his eyes on one of them.

As we all know, the Angels decided to pass on the big splash for once and focus on attempting to build a roster able to compete for a postseason berth. While we can debate on whether Perry Minasian did enough in that regard, what we can't debate on is how impossible this task would've been to build a contender within Arte Moreno's financial constraints had they signed a star shortstop. Based on the play of these shortstops, the Angels dodged an even bigger bullet.

LA Angels dodge massive bullet by not signing star free agent shortstop

There were four massive free agent shortstops on the market. Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts, Dansby Swanson, and Trea Turner were all available for any of the 30 teams to scoop. All four have underperformed.

Trea Turner, the biggest fish in the shortstop market and the player Arte Moreno wanted, is slashing .251/.297/.382 with four home runs and 11 RBI. Zach Neto's .682 OPS and 88 OPS+ are both higher than Turner's while Neto is the far better defensive player as well.

After a raging hot start, Xander Bogaerts is down to a .778 OPS. Not bad, but not anything insane. Hunter Renfroe's .785 OPS is higher. Dansby Swanson has a .773 OPS. Again, not a bad mark, but not something you'd expect from someone who got MVP votes last season.

Carlos Correa was playing the worst of the bunch, but has picked it up late. Still, a .699 OPS isn't exactly anything to write home about.

Knowing the Angels' luck with signings like these, the players who were stars in years past would've either performed like they are now, performed at a lower level, or spent time on the Injured List.

The Angels are just fine with Zach Neto at shortstop, and are where they are because of their depth. Knowing Arte Moreno's financial limitations, the Angels wouldn't have been able to exceed the luxury tax. This means no Hunter Renfroe, no Gio Urshela, no Brandon Drury, no Carlos Estevez, no Matt Moore. It likely would've meant no Shohei Ohtani past this season.

Signing a guy like Trea Turner would've been cool. I don't expect him or any of these four shortstops to be struggling for much longer, but that's been the case almost two months in. Perry Minasian isn't always right, but he was this time.