The Angels made MLB’s first managerial change by bringing aboard Joe Maddon. So what areas will the team address in free agency to recoup this upcoming season?
The Los Angeles Angels held the introductory press conference for new manager Joe Maddon, and he discussed his vision for the ball club moving forward on Thursday at Angel Stadium.
However, after the press conference concluded, Angels owner Arte Moreno told Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic that he plans to raise the team’s payroll this upcoming season.
Given Maddon’s past success in Tampa Bay and Chicago, he’s proved that he can rally the troops and thrive in both instances of having limited circumstances or dealing with a high-priced free agents to improve the ball club.
Ultimately, it’s clear the Angels pitching staff has struggled significantly the last few seasons — posting a team ERA that finished in bottom half the last two years. However, they do possess a solid core of hitting with Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Justin Upton, Albert Pujols and Andrelton Simmons.
With Moreno mentioning he’s ready to dig into his wallet a bit more, this is the offseason that general manger Billy Eppler will go after pitching heavier than ever.
This year’s free agent class is headlined by southern California native Gerrit Cole, which many believe has a strong chance of returning home if the Angels make a push to bring him to Anaheim. Stephen Strasburg is another coveted candidate who can become a free agent if he opts out of his current four-year, $100 million deal that he’s currently set up to play on next season.
The Angels haven’t had a front-line starter since Jared Weaver’s prime years came to a fold in 2014. Maybe with the addition of Maddon, the organization will be more willing to spend on a front-line starter than they have in recent years.
The Angels have money to spend this offseason, and after some failed projects torched the payroll last year like Matt Harvey (one year, $11 million), Trevor Cahill (one year, $9 million) and Cody Allen (one year $9 million), the front office should think twice about bringing in guys they hope can bounce back. Trout’s not going to be an MVP every year for the next 10 seasons, so the time is now.
Even if they take the alternative route to skip the highest-price starting pitchers, the market still stacks up quite nicely. Guys like Hyun-Jin Ryu, Madison Bumgarner, Dallas Keuchel and Cole Hamels all look to be viable options that the Angels could target.
In order to get the starting pitching, Eppler must sign at least two starters that can help bolster the front of the rotation for the foreseeable future alongside Ohtani.