Los Angeles Angels general manager Billy Eppler during the MLB general managers meeting. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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The LA Angels and general manager Billy Eppler have a few holes to fill during the off-season. With Winter Meetings starting Dec. 4th we’ll see what the Angels do.
As we have stated over here at Halo Hangout; The LA Angels need to fill the holes in their roster if they want to contend for anything next year. So far this offseason Billy Eppler and the front office have been very conservative with their signings. A positive to this is that it has left money for the Angels to be able to spend during the winter meetings. Will the front office be willing to spend big on a free agent pool that seems to be lacking, though?
There are four positions the Angels desperately need to fill this offseason; second base, catcher, left-handed relievers and at least one starting pitcher. Whether it will be through free agency, a trade, or from within their farm system is still yet to be seen.
I’m going to take you through the trades and signings I believe to be a possibility for the Angels this offseason.
Oct 18, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Rich Hill (44) reacts after a strike out during the sixth inning against the Chicago Cubs in game three of the 2016 NLCS playoff baseball series at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Rich Hill is coming off of his best season yet where he posted an ERA of 2.12, and is bound to get a decent check. By the time next season starts, though, Hill will be 37 years old. Hill has also only thrown over 100 innings in two of his twelve seasons, one being last season. I don’t foresee the Angels pursuing Rich Hill due to his age and the possibility of him receiving some large offers. But, if the Angels are really looking to contend next year, Hill would be a step in the right direction.
Sep 13, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Ivan Nova (46) pitches during the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
I see the Angels signing free agent Ivan Nova as a much more plausible answer. Nova will be thirty years old in January, which puts him as one of the younger guys in the starting pitcher free agent pool. He has had a few solid seasons throughout his career, and he probably isn’t going to ask for as much money as Rich Hill. Last season Nova put up a 4.17 ERA in 162 innings pitched. Nova was traded to the Pirates around halfway of the season, and he was able to put up an ERA of 3.06 while in Pittsburg. Signing Nova obviously won’t turn the Angels into a contender overnight, but I can see him pitching well and being consistent enough for the Angels to consider signing him.
Los Angeles Angels catcher Jett Bandy (13) celebrates scoring on a triple by second baseman Cliff Pennington (7) with shortstop Andrelton Simmons (2). Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
I don’t think the Angels are going to sign a free agent catcher. I think the most likely outcome is Jett Bandy getting more playing time next season and sharing the duties with Carlos Perez.
Sep 23, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos (40) reacts after hitting a solo home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the sixth inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
If the Angels decide to sign a catcher, the obvious best option is Wilson Ramos. Last year Ramos posted a .307 batting average, .354 OBP, 22 HR, 80 RBIs, and was invited to the NL all-star team. Ramos would add some much-needed offense to the team but would also come with an all-star’s price tag as well. I think the Angels would rather spend that money on a second baseman or pitching rather than a catcher.
Oct 2, 2016; Bronx, NY, USA; Baltimore Orioles catcher Matt Wieters (32) bats in the ninth inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports
The more budget friendly option would be Matt Wieters. Wieters was also an all-star last season but is significantly worse offensively than Ramos. Last season Wieters put up a .243 batting average, .302 OBP, 17 HR and 66 RBIs.
Nov 1, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Travis Wood throws a pitch against the Cleveland Indians in the 9th inning in game six of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 20, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier (2) hits a single in the first inning against the Detroit Tigers at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Brian Dozier of the Minnesota Twins has been a name thrown around in trade rumors for a while. Dozier would be a great addition to the team, but the Angels would have to trade a lot to get him. At the very least we would see Matt Shoemaker or Tyler Skaggs and then at least one younger top prospect as well. I don’t see the Angels giving up that much for Dozier.
The Angels are definitely looking for a second baseman, though.
The #Angels had some preliminary talks with FA 2B Stephen Drew. That being said, he's one of many candidates. Nothing seems close. Carry on.
Stephen Drew would be a decent veteran addition at 2nd, but he wouldn’t do much to change the clubs off-season chances. Last season Drew posted a .266 batting average, .339 OBP, 8 HR and 21 RBIs.
Sep 11, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Cesar Hernandez (16) singles against the Washington Nationals during the eighth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
One name I have seen brought up only a few times but I absolutely love the idea of is Philadelphia’s Cesar Hernandez. Cesar is a younger player who has mostly played second base but has played games at shortstop and third as well. Last year he posted a .294 batting average, .371 OBP, 6 HR, 11 Triples, and 39 RBIs. Hernandez is also a switch hitter, which would help add some left-handed hitting depth to the lineup. We would have to send less for Hernandez than we would Dozier, and Hernandez is much younger as well.