The number one goal the Los Angeles Angels have, of course, is to bring back Shohei Ohtani. This comes as little surprise considering the fact that he's the best player in baseball. The Angels should be doing whatever it takes to convince him to stay, and Mark Feinsand of MLB.com seems to think they have a shot at doing so in his free agency predictions. The Angels are listed as one of four fits for Shohei's services alongside the Dodgers, Giants, and Mets.
It's encouraging to see the Angels linked to Shohei, but there's still more work to be done whether he stays or goes. After all, this is still a team that won just 73 games with him playing at an MVP level and has failed to record a single winning season with him on the roster.
Feinsand has the Angels linked to three additional top-25 free agents. No, the team won't land all four, but any combination would certainly be upgrades over what the team has right now.
1) Josh Hader
The Angels bullpen is once again a mess. Carlos Estevez was brought in to be the team's closer in 2023 and in the first half, he was among the best closers in the American League. He was even named to his first all-star team. Unfortunately, he melted down in the second half along with most of his teammates, making the question of whether the team should replace him in that role a very real one.
Alongside Estevez, there isn't much here. There are young guys like Jose Soriano, Ben Joyce, and Sam Bachman who all came up this season and showed flashes, but they're far from proven and are all injury risks. Reliable arms who were here at points of this past season including Matt Moore and Reynaldo Lopez are free agents. The bullpen was among baseball's worst in 2023 in terms of ERA and blown saves, and could be there again without major help. Josh Hader would provide a major boost.
Hader has established himself as one of, if not the best closer in all of baseball. His 2023 season speaks for itself. He had a 1.28 ERA in 61 appearances, recording 33 saves in 38 tries. He was one rare bright spot on a disappointing Padres team.
As great as he'd be, he's going to cost a ton, and relievers can be extremely volatile. Even Hader has had his moments where he suddenly can't find the range. Additionally, he's going to cost a draft pick due to the fact that he has the qualifying offer attached. Some free agents are worth that added tag, but I'm not sure a reliever qualifies.
There are pros and cons to Hader. He'd make them better, but does he truly make a big enough impact? That will remain to be seen if he did choose to come here. Feinsand has the Phillies and Rangers, two contenders with bullpen issues, linked to Hader as well.