The Los Angeles Angels enter this week's Winter Meetings as a mystery. They're a team trying to compete in 2024 but could be losing Shohei Ohtani any day now. They hope to re-sign him, but the bevy of opportunities for Shohei to pursue elsewhere makes it unlikely that their dream will come true.
As far-fetched as it might seem, the Angels are still in the running for Shohei. The team might not have won anything with him in his first six years in Anaheim, but make no mistake. He's priority one.
Fortunately, not everything the Angels can do at the Winter Meetings has to revolve around Ohtani. They have to build a team whether he's here or not. There are other huge moves Perry Minasian can make to really make this fan base excited again.
1) Acquire a frontline starter
Whether the Angels get this done through free agency or via trade remains to be seen, but adding a frontline starter has to be at the front of Minasian's list of things to accomplish that doesn't include Shohei Ohtani. Even if the Angels bring Ohtani back, he can't pitch in 2024. What was a subpar rotation even with Ohtani becomes downright bad if they don't make an addition.
Fortunately, there are many directions in which Perry Minasian can go. The easiest one would be signing a free agent. Arms like Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Blake Snell, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Jordan Montgomery are all there for the taking, and would all make a big impact if they came to Anaheim.
The Angels would have to throw a lot of money at a free agent starter. I mean, Lance Lynn got $10 million and was one of the worst starting pitchers in the league in 2023. Any starting pitching is expensive, but reliable frontline starting pitching is extremely expensive. As tough of a pill as that might be for Arte Moreno to swallow, finding a frontline starter is a must.
If the Angels are unable to land a starter in free agency, the trade market has some viable options. The Angels have already been linked to Dylan Cease, he'd be a huge difference maker. Even rentals like Tyler Glasnow and Corbin Burnes can possibly convince Shohei Ohtani to stay.
Just find a way. Assets are limited for the Angels to part with, but a trade is not impossible. Neither is spending the money to sign someone. Without a starting pitcher, it's hard to see this team getting remotely close to competing.