Los Angeles Angels fans have spent the past few seasons wondering if the team will ever get serious about contending again.
I’m not an Angels fan so it’d be way easier to stop rooting for them. But 1 playoff appearance in a 10 year span with practically a 10 WAR player head start every year? Pathetic. They need to make big moves and win this year before Trout and Ohtani want out. Feel bad for LAA fans
— Jeremy Frank (@MLBRandomStats) July 20, 2021
It’s extremely frustrating to watch the organization waste two generational talents year after year, and it’s fair to wonder if there is even a plan in place for the future of the franchise.
Today, we’re going to do our best to map out the Angels’ potential path to putting a contending team on the field.
These three moves would be huge steps in the right direction.
3. Have A Successful Sell At This Year’s Deadline
As a starting point, the Angels should unload as many expiring contracts as possible before this week’s trade deadline.
If there are any players that the Angels hope to re-sign this offseason, they should think twice before trading those guys away, but every other expiring deal should be on the move.
We’re going to get into Los Angeles’ specific needs in just a moment, but we’ll start by saying that the Angels’ primary target for returns on deadline deals should be pitching—specifically of the relief variety.
2. Revamp The Rotation In The Offseason, Starting With The Addition Of Marcus Stroman In The Offseason
The Angels have had rotation issues for several seasons.
This year, they’re finally starting to find some long-term starting pitching options, so that’s a big step forward.
For example, the aforementioned two-way star Ohtani has a 3.04 ERA, 3.40 FIP, and 1.13 WHIP this season.
Shohei Ohtani, Wicked 79mph Slider…and he knows it. pic.twitter.com/luOW5B5xyH
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 20, 2021
He is going to be an anchor for a long time.
Additionally, 24-year-old Patrick Sandoval is having a breakout campaign.
He has a 3.52 ERA, 3.96 FIP, and 1.10 WHIP across 14 outings, and he looks like a diamond in the rough.
You could also throw Alex Cobb into this conversation if you want.
Cobb’s long-term fit with the Angels is unknown (he is a free agent after the year), but he is having a really solid season and could be a nice rotation piece in 2022.
Cobb has a 3.82 ERA, 2.61 FIP, and 1.26 WHIP this year.
So, as mentioned, the Angels have something to work with here.
It’s not quite enough yet, but it’s a start.
The next step would be adding at least one elite arm in the offseason.
Marcus Stroman could be a great fit.
He is having a resurgent 2021 campaign with the New York Mets and is currently working on a 2.62 ERA.
The righty is a free agent after the season, so he’ll have his say in where he wants to spend 2022.
The Angels should take a stab at signing him.
He is pitching like a guy who could have a lot left in the tank for seasons to come.
If the Angels were to ink both Stroman and Cobb to deals, then they’d be looking at a rotation foundation of Ohtani-Stroman-Sandoval-Cobb.
There’s a lot of potential there.
Third-year lefty Jose Suarez has looked promising in his new role as a starter lately, so perhaps he could slide in as the fifth option.
1. Allocate A Ton Of Energy And Resources To The Bullpen Situation In The Offseason
If the Angels don’t address their bullpen situation in the offseason, it’s not going to matter what other moves they make.
Los Angeles truthfully only has two reliable relief options right now, and both of those players are set to hit free agency after the 2021 season ends.
Both guys could be traded before this week’s deadline, but the Angels should consider trying to re-sign Iglesias for next season.
He would be a nice starting point as the team tries to build next year’s bullpen up from essentially nothing.
To make things tougher, some of the biggest names on the free agent market for relievers this offseason all come with caveats.
You’ve got Andrew Miller (who is still a solid option despite his drop-off), Kenley Jansen (who could come at a cheap price since most people seem to agree that his best years are behind him), and Trevor Rosenthal (who looked dominant as recently as 2020 but is out for 2021 after undergoing hip surgery).
Some other options include Brad Hand (who has a 3.67 ERA this season and a great 2.81 ERA since 2016), Adam Ottavino (who has a 3.27 ERA this year with the Boston Red Sox), and Archie Bradley (who has a 3.21 ERA across 30 outings in 2021).
As far as stars go, it’s a rather weak market for relievers.
Quality bullpen arms often fly under the radar, though, so if the Angels venture deeper into the free agent class, they might be able to find exactly what they’re looking for.
The trade market is an option, too.
Nothing should be off the table, because at the end of the day, Los Angeles needs to add a minimum of three or four solid relievers if the organization hopes to contend in 2022.