The Los Angeles Angels’ offseason was a very productive one with some big changes. Which were the three best transactions?
A year without Mike Trout in the postseason is a year wasted. To ensure another season void of the playoffs doesn’t take place, the Los Angeles Angels’ offseason transactions were heavy on improving their odds in 2017. While it may not have been enough, they are definitely much better.
The Angels finished the 2016 season well below expectations. The starting rotation battled injuries and the starting lineup had more than a few holes. Their 74-88 record landed them the fourth position in the difficult American League West. Things could be better in 2017 thanks to a much more active winter.
We will see a much different Angels roster this year. C.J. Wilson has retired to become a racecar driver and Jered Weaver will pitch for the San Diego Padres. They are probably still another year away from making a serious run. However, they are still headed down the path to contention. Three specific transactions this offseason could speed things along and make the Angels a surprise team in 2017.
An honorable mention goes to the Angels’ decision to not sign free agent catcher Matt Wieters. The veteran catcher signed a two-year deal with the Washington Nationals for more money than he was worth. The Angels looked like one landing spot for him. Wisely, the Angels avoided him.
Additionally, the Angels avoided other big contracts, too. There were no major deals handed out which could potentially handicap them for years. Instead, the Angels filled holes.
The Angels’ offseason was not very loud, but there was plenty of chatter. From it came these three transactions which rank as their best of the winter.
The Angels foolishly failed to add a respectable starting left fielder to the roster last season. In fact, it has been a major weakness of theirs for several seasons. Ever since moving on from Josh Hamilton, the Angels have tried to piece the position together with scraps like Dr. Frankenstein has each of the monsters he has created.
This year could be different. The Angels traded for outfielder Cameron Maybin in a deal that no one seemed to see coming. The trade did not cost the Angels much at all. The Detroit Tigers seemed ready to move on from him while the Angels really did need that depth.
Maybin is more than just the starting left fielder for the Angels in 2017. He is also a very capable backup center fielder should the unthinkable happen: They lose Trout for any extended period of time.
When healthy, Maybin was a very productive player last season. He hit a career-best .315 while posting a phenomenal .383 OBP. The Angels may have gotten a real steal with this transaction.
Trading for Slugging Second Baseman Danny Espinosa
Another great addition the Angels made was second baseman Danny Espinosa. The power-hitting second baseman lost his opportunity to start in Washington due to the emergence of Trea Turner. He voiced his displeasure early in the offseason which ultimately led to him getting traded to the Angels.
Home run power is certainly the best attribute Espinosa brings to Anaheim. He hit 24 home runs for the Nationals last season. Of course, he also struck out 174 times. Espinosa swings hard and will often hit it a long way or end his at-bat with a quick walk back to the dugout.
Some may argue the Angels’ decision to sign Luis Valbuena was a better move. Certainly worth debating, Espinosa has put up more consistent numbers over a longer time. His greater ability to play shortstop also helps make him a little more valuable than Valbuena. At this stage of his career, Valbuena is limited to the corner infield spots.
It’s about time the Angels got a reliable second baseman albeit one with some major weaknesses. At the very least, they have added some home runs and should get a solid defensive performance.
The absolute best transaction the Angels made this offseason was the contract extension they signed with right fielder Kole Calhoun. Calhoun is now locked up through 2020. It comes at a very reasonable price, too.
Calhoun is more than a great left-handed stick the Angels can use to balance a lineup with Trout and Albert Pujols. He was a 2015 Gold Glove winner as well.
This upcoming season will represent Calhoun’s age-29 campaign. He has hit with consistent power for three season snow. Last year, he sacrificed some of it for a better batting average and OBP from what he did one year prior. Calhoun is definitely not going to become this team’s star, but he can complement the roster well.
The Angels were very wise to hand this contract extension out. Considering the bad luck they have had in left field, it’s nice to see them know who their right fielder will be for the next few seasons.