Angels Winter Meetings: 3 things to watch

BY foxsports • December 7, 2014

Baseball has officially taken over San Diego. 

MLB Winter Meetings kick off this week in San Diego, and while the Los Angeles Angels aren't likely to be a focus, there are still a few key moves that could be made. With most of the 98-win team still in tact, any dealings will be minor. But there is still room for improvement at both the major and minor league levels, and winter meetings are often a springboard for bigger deals to come.

Here are three areas the Angels may address during MLB Winter Meetings.

1. Starting Pitching

Bullpen start days were fun to watch in September, but with Tyler Skaggs slated to miss most, if not all, of next season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, it's clear that the Angels need more depth on the back end of the rotation. 

But don't expect a Jon Lester or Max Scherzer-type. Cost-effective is probably going to be the key phrase when it comes to starting pitching. With the fourth-highest payroll in baseball, the Halos are approaching that luxury tax limit and any deal for a high-priced arm isn't likely. There's a chance that reliever Cory Rasmus, who moonlighted as a starter in September, could join the rotation of Jered Weaver, Garrett Richards, Matt Shoemaker and C.J. Wilson full time or that recently acquired right-hander Nick Tropeano could prove to be Major League-ready.

With Richards coming back and the versatility of long man/starting lefty Hector Santiago, the rotation looks much more stable than it did at the end of the season. But as we've all seen, anything can happen throughout the course of the season and starting pitching depth is crucial.

 Just one more arm would be ideal. 

2. Left-handed Relief Pitching

The Angels went most of last season without a lefty in the bullpen last season so going without wouldn't be the end of the world, but it wouldn't hurt either. The 'pen got a boost when left-hander Cesar Ramos, a former Long Beach State standout, was acquired, but Ramos has yet to log a full year in the Major Leagues. A situational lefty might be the answer.

3. Organizational Depth

A playoff run can sometimes mean a depleted farm system. Such is the way of the baseball world. 

The Angels' farm system wasn't exactly stocked before the 2014 season, but with deals made during a pennant push and homegrown talent like Kole Calhoun, Garrett Richards and Matt Shoemaker now fully fulfilling their big league potential, the system is getting a little thing.

Areas of concern are starting pitching and infield depth. 

Utility infielder Gordon Beckham was non-tendered, and although the Angels could still decide to pay him, there's currently no one to spell David Freese at third or Erick Aybar at shortstop. In double-A, infielders former first-round pick Kaleb Cowart and former UC Irvine Anteater Brian Hernandez aren't though of as major league-ready just yet. At the triple-A level, Shawn O'Malley appears to be the closest.

Prospects often come at a cost, but a few high-upside minor leaguers would be a valuable commodity given the farm system's current state. 


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