Final offseason grade for the Angels with no moves on the horizon
The Los Angeles Angels had a very busy offseason, acquiring seven players on MLB contracts. Two of these players were acquired in trades while the remaining five were free agent signings.
This was a completely different approach for an Angels organization that usually prioritizes signing a superstar and then filling out the roster with below-average talent. The Angels went with a new plan with Perry Minasian convincing Arte Moreno to not ignore the importance of building out a complete roster and adding depth. Trea Turner would've been awesome, but not as awesome as building a team of 26 legitimate MLB players plus real additional depth in the minors. Remember, players like Jose Rojas and Jack Mayfield were on the team on Opening Day last season.
The Angels have put themselves in position to compete for a playoff spot. Playing in a loaded AL West doesn't help, but I truly believe the Angels have the pieces to get it done, health permitting.
With no big moves on the horizon for the Angels to make, let's put a final grade on this offseason.
The Angels kicked off this offseason by signing Tyler Anderson to a three-year deal worth $39 million. The likelihood Anderson repeats the season he had with the Dodgers last season is unlikely. He had a 2.57 ERA in 30 appearances (28 starts) and was one of the best pitchers on a loaded Dodgers staff.
Anderson was nothing more than a journeyman starter before last season, but thanks to a much-improved changeup, he looks like the real deal. The great part of this deal is Anderson doesn't have to repeat the season he had. He can be a 3.50 ERA guy and as long as he's taking the ball every sixth day and giving the Angels length, they'll be thrilled. Comparing his deal to pitchers like Taijuan Walker and Jameson Taillon who got an extra guaranteed year and more annual dollars should make Angels fans feel very happy that Perry Minasian jumped the gun.
The trades the Angels made netted them Hunter Renfroe and Gio Urshela. Renfroe is a proven 25+ homer bat, and he's averaged 30 in the last two seasons. That plus his cannon of an arm in right field makes him a massive upgrade over what the Angels were running out there last year. Urshela provides infield depth and with how he's looked at shortstop, I wouldn't mind him getting a lot of starts there.
The Angels gave up some pitching depth to get these deals done, but if Janson Junk is the best guy you give away, that's good business. The Angels got two proven veteran bats for not very much at all.
The bullpen was improved with the Carlos Estevez and Matt Moore additions. Both are coming off of fantastic 2022 campaigns, and should be fixtures late in games for the Halos. Both have had up-and-down springs, but that shouldn't be too much of a concern. I like these moves, but do wish the Angels found a way to get more of a proven shutdown reliever to lock down the ninth.
Brandon Drury should get a majority of the starts at second base and give the Angels another 20+ home run bat. He's coming off of a career year which he's unlikely to repeat, but he doesn't have to. He's making $8.5 million over the next two seasons. That's really good value for someone as versatile as Drury.
The Brett Phillips signing has stirred a lot of controversy, and I agree that it's an underwhelming signing, but he does fill the role I expect the Angels to have him play quite well.
Overall, the Angels added Anderson, Renfroe, Urshela, Estevez, Moore, Drury, and Phillips while not losing much on their roster. Michael Lorenzen is a Tiger, Matt Duffy is a Royal, Janson Junk and Elvis Peguero are Brewers.
I wish the Angels addressed the shortstop position with a more experienced shortstop than Urshela and I wish they were able to do a little more in the bullpen, but both of those areas can be addressed at the deadline if there's a need.
Perry Minasian deserves a ton of credit for making a bad Angels team into a good and deep one without exceeding the luxury tax. Minasian also had to deal with Arte Moreno's inability to decide what he wanted to do with the club. This team, barring injury which is a real concern, has put themselves in the discussion for a top-three team in the AL behind Houston and the Yankees. A lot has to go right, but things are looking up.