Andrew Wantz had a very interesting 2023 season for the Los Angeles Angels. Things started great for this right-hander, as he won a roster spot following a dominant Spring Training and then allowed just one earned run in his first 15.1 innings of work.
Unfortunately, Wantz wound up posting an ERA of 6.00 in the remaining 24 innings of his season. He was sent up and down between AAA and the majors, but never quite stuck. Wantz now enters an offseason of uncertainty as he hopes to be a big part of the 2024 Angels.
Andrew Wantz has work to do to earn a roster spot on the 2024 Angels
Wantz has shown in his brief big league career that he can pitch. He has a career 3.85 ERA in 90 appearances in the last three seasons. That's nothing to scoff at. However, he's failed to stick, and there're reasons for that.
Wantz has had trouble inheriting runners, particularly in 2023, which for a reliever is an important part of the job. It might not show up in the ERA stat, but allowing a hit while inheriting a runner at second base is certainly not a good thing, even if it appears rather harmless in the box score. Additionally, he walks too many hitters as his walk rate is at 9.7% for his career. Again, not a huge deal when just looking at a box score, but if he comes into the middle of a jam and can't throw strikes, that's a problem.
While those are issues, Wantz has some good qualities. Perhaps his most important one is his ability to record more than three outs on any given outing. He can piggyback behind a starter and give a bit of length, can eat up some extra innings, and can even serve as an opener. He did this three times this past season. Additionally, he held the opposition to a .197 batting average against. That's quite impressive and shows he has the stuff to succeed, even if the hits he gave up were often back-breakers.
When it comes to 2024, his role is very up in the air right now. If the roster remains as is, Wantz will be part of the Opening Day bullpen. If the Angels add a couple of relievers this offseason, then things become a bit trickier. In all likelihood, he'll have to battle with players like Jimmy Herget, Kenny Rosenberg, and newcomer Adam Kolarek.
Wantz having a minor league option still will help him remain off potential DFA territory, but they also diminish his chances at winning an Opening Day roster spot. In all likelihood, he'll be on a shuttle between AAA Salt Lake and the majors as he was this past season and many relievers with options are.