Mark Feinsand of MLB.com ranked the top 10 MLB free agents for the upcoming offseason and came up with teams who’d be a fit for each of them. Shohei Ohtani is obviously the number one free agent heading into the offseason, and the Angels were one of the four teams listed along with the Dodgers, Giants, and Mariners.
Among the rest of the top-ten, only one had an Angels link, and it's a fairly surprising name.
With the Angels bullpen a major question heading into 2024, a Josh Hader signing could make some sense, but it'd also be very expensive for the Angels to sign arguably the best reliever in baseball.
LA Angels surprisingly listed as suitor for the best reliever in baseball
Paying for relievers is something the Angels have done a lot of in recent years. In the 2021 offseason, their spending didn't exactly go to plan as Raisel Iglesias, Ryan Tepera, and Aaron Loup all had down years. Iglesias wound up getting traded, Tepera was DFA'd a year later, and Loup has continued to struggle in his Angels tenure.
This past offseason the signings were better as Matt Moore and Carlos Estevez wound up being two of the Angels best players for much of the year. Estevez was an all-star, and had Moore stayed healthy for the entire first half, he might've joined him in Seattle. That's how good he was. Moore only signed a one-year deal which is why he wound up being waived in the Angels failed attempt to get under the tax, but Estevez remains here and will be on the final year of his deal in 2024.
Estevez staying put is why this need for Hader is a bit confusing to me. Outside of a minor blip after the all-star break, Estevez has had a great year. He has 29 saves in 31 opportunities and has struck batters out at a 28% clip.
Hader is otherworldly, and would make the Angels bullpen turn from a weakness to a major strength. He has a 1.16 ERA in 50 appearances this season and strikes out the world. He's been one of the few bright spots on a bad Padres team. A bullpen with Hader closing, Estevez setting up, and these impressive rookies like Jose Soriano, Sam Bachman, and Ben Joyce playing their part would be one to be excited about, but with so many other holes on this Angels team, I wouldn't put Hader extremely high on the priority list.
Landing starting pitching should be the number one goal the Angels have this offseason assuming they're trying to win in 2024, and considering the fact that Edwin Diaz got over $100 million in his free agent contract, Hader is going to cost as much as a good starting pitcher would. With Arte Moreno as conservative as he is spending-wise, spending the available funds on a closer is not the best move for the Angels to make.