With Spring Training on the horizon and the reporting date for pitchers and catchers rapidly approaching, the Angels find themselves in a similar position as the last five years or so. This familiar position is with major spots in their pitching rotation and bullpen in major flux or completely unfilled. Let’s look at remaining free agent options for the Angels and how they may fit with the current pieces already in place.
Currently, the Angels starting staff consists of Shohei Ohtani, Tyler Anderson, Reid Detmers, Patrick Sandoval, and a few potential options on the 40 man roster. The potential options include Chase Silseth, Griffin Canning (coming off injury), and the most likely being Jose Suarez. The Angels are also looking for a 6th option so that Shohei Ohtani’s innings are more easily managed. If the Angels do put Suarez in the starting rotation, that gives them four left-handed pitchers and one right-handed pitcher. The Angels’ current 5-man starting rotation should be very solid and keep the team on the right side of the scoreboard more often than not, but most experts say they could still use a little more balance and preferably a top three type of arm for both performance and durability. Here are the main remaining options for starting pitching ranked by author preference:
- Michael Wacha: Michael Wacha was arguably Boston’s best starter last year and amassed an 11-2 record with a 3.32 ERA, a 1.12 WHIP (Walks and Hits per Innings Pitched), and opponents only hit .233 against him. He is also the second youngest pitcher on this list. Wacha may not have the most electric stuff, but he gets outs, controls the strike zone, and seems like a great teammate.
- Dylan Bundy: Dylan Bundy is actually the youngest guy on this list. On a positive, he has been in Anaheim before and pitched pretty well for the Angels. He has decent stuff, although it hasn’t yet blossomed into the skill of a top-of-the-rotation pitcher yet. His numbers were not as sparkling as Wacha’s, seeing as Bundy went 8-8 with a 4.89 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP. The main plusses: he is right handed, has had success in Anaheim, and would have good success as a third or fourth starter at a team-friendly deal.
- Zach Greinke: Greinke is 39, which makes him older than preferred. His win/loss record, batting average against, walks and WHIP were absolutely subpar. On the positive side, his ERA is still very good for a third or fourth starter at 3.89. Greinke is also rather durable, he still had 26 starts last season, even though he doesn’t go as deep into games as he once did. Greinke also has experience in Anaheim, and I would hope to be interested in coming back for a pretty solid price for the team.
- Trevor Bauer: The proverbial elephant in the room. On one hand, you have a pitcher with Cy Young stuff who is nowhere near the end of the road. He is an Ace or #2 without question who a team could get for much less than his true market value. Now on to the issues…even though he has been proven innocent in a court of law and is no longer suspended, his image is forever tarnished. With the sale of the Angels going through at some point this season, is the new owner going to be willing to take on the PR difficulty that would be signing Trevor Bauer? That is a question to which I am interested in the answer. He makes the Angels pitching staff much better, which would help the Angels be competitive and hopefully make the playoffs, which would go a long way toward keeping Shohei happy and in Anaheim. Are the questions and issues worth the benefits? Time will tell.
The Angels Bullpen is in a decent spot. They have a lot of pieces that have been solid in the very recent past. Aaron Loup has been good, as have Jimmy Herget, Jaime Barria, and Ryan Tapera. They have all shown good major league ability. Carlos Estevez is hopefully able to take his skill set and make the next leap to be the Angels closer. As this writer sees it, the Angels could use another High Leverage, power arm to complete the bullpen. Here are the Free Agent options still available as of the time of writing:
- Will Smith: Will Smith has been a very effective and efficient relief pitcher throughout his career. His secondary stats are very good. Even last year, which could be considered a down year for him, he still had 5 saves in 8 attempts. He was durable with 65 appearances and threw 59 innings. In those 59 innings, he had 65 strikeouts and only 25 walks. Even though his WHIP wasn’t very good, he would still be a good 8th inning guy with closing experience in case all doesn’t go to plan.
- Brad Hand: Brad Hand has also been very effective out of the bullpen over his career. He is seen as more of a setup man, although he certainly has some closing experience as well. He would be a very good get for the Angels in that he would provide late-game stability for the Bullpen.
- Chad Green: Green was a very good pitcher for the Yankees and would provide stability to the Bullpen for the Angels as well. He has minimal closer experience but is one of the youngest free agent relievers available, so there would be hope for a bit more growth, and quality is still untapped.
- Ian Kennedy: Ian Kennedy has been around the Majors for long while. He started as a starting pitcher and has transitioned to the bullpen as a closer over the last 5 or so years. Even last year on a very poor Arizona Diamondbacks team, he was 10 for 10 on Saves and pitched rather well by the numbers. He could be a very inexpensive option for his quality of pitching.
- Trevor Rosenthal: Much more of a name that was quality. He hasn’t pitched since 2020, so one would have to wonder how much of a dart throw is Rosenthal really worth.
No matter what, Perry Minasian and the Angels have a bit more to figure out and add to their pitching staff to be comfortable that they have all the pieces in place to make a run at the postseason and beyond. Whether that happens through free agency or a trade remains to be seen.