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Predicting the Angels' 2020 Opening Day roster

@RhettBollinger
November 5, 2019

ANAHEIM -- The Angels believe they have the core to compete in 2020, but now it’s up to the front office to add much-needed starting pitching this offseason after hiring Joe Maddon to take over as manager. It’s the very beginning of the offseason, but it’s never too early to

ANAHEIM -- The Angels believe they have the core to compete in 2020, but now it’s up to the front office to add much-needed starting pitching this offseason after hiring Joe Maddon to take over as manager.

It’s the very beginning of the offseason, but it’s never too early to predict the Opening Day roster in 2020, including possible additions that could be made via free agency or trade this winter. Here’s how next year’s 26-man roster could look for the Halos:

Catcher
Locks: Max Stassi, Kevan Smith
Possibilities: Anthony Bemboom, free agent/trade
The Angels could decide to stay put at catcher and go with the combination of Stassi and Smith, but there’s a chance that Stassi could miss the start of the season after undergoing right hip surgery in late September. If not, the Halos could look outside the organization, but they aren’t likely to be players for the top catcher available in Yasmani Grandal. They’re more likely to target a reunion with Martín Maldonado or try to sign Robinson Chirinos.

First base
Locks: Albert Pujols
Possibilities: Jared Walsh, Matt Thaiss, free agent/trade
Pujols is again entrenched at first base and the Angels could decide to use a youngster such as Walsh or Thaiss as his backup. The Halos have already moved on from Justin Bour, outrighting him off the roster after a disappointing season. They could look for a veteran first baseman on the cheap, but it’s not a top priority for the club.

Second base
Locks: Tommy La Stella
Possibilities: Luis Rengifo, Kean Wong

La Stella was an All-Star for the first time before breaking his right tibia in early July and will be reunited with Maddon. Rengifo also had a solid rookie year and remains in the mix, but there’s a chance he could start the year in Triple-A. Wong was picked up on waivers from the Rays late in the season, and he will compete for a spot in Spring Training if he’s still on the roster.

Shortstop
Locks: Andrelton Simmons
Possibilities: Zack Cozart
Simmons is headed into the final year of his deal and is looking to bounce back after dealing with injuries, including a severe left ankle sprain that derailed his season. Cozart had another operation July 12 to help alleviate his issues with his left rotator cuff and it’s not known how it’ll respond just yet.

Third base
Locks: David Fletcher
Possibilities: Matt Thaiss, Zack Cozart, Tommy La Stella
Fletcher was the club’s most consistent offensive player behind Mike Trout and will get playing time all over the infield. He can also handle third better than La Stella, so he’s likely to see most of his playing time at the hot corner.

Outfield
Locks: Justin Upton, Mike Trout, Brian Goodwin
Possibilities: Jo Adell, Michael Hermosillo, Kole Calhoun
Upton will start in left and Trout will be in center, but right field is a bit up in the air as the Angels decide whether to pick up Calhoun’s $14 million option. If they don’t, as expected, they could look to start Goodwin in right until Adell is ready to take over. Hermosillo could fill in as the fourth outfielder until Adell is ready and then Goodwin could take over the role.

Starting pitchers
Locks: Andrew Heaney, Griffin Canning
Possibilities: Patrick Sandoval, Félix Peña, Dillon Peters, Jaime Barria, Jose Suarez, free agent/trade
The Halos are expected to add at least two starters to this group, and they’ve been heavily linked to right-hander Gerrit Cole, who grew up near Anaheim and is the top starting pitcher in the free-agent market. Heaney and Canning are locks, and Sandoval and Peña showed upside in 2019.

Relievers
Locks: Hansel Robles, Ty Buttrey, Keynan Middleton, Noé Ramirez, Justin Anderson
Possibilities: Luke Bard, Jake Jewell, Adalberto Mejía, Jose Rodriguez, Taylor Cole, free agent/trade
The Halos don’t have to worry about acquiring a closer, as Robles excelled in that role last season. Buttrey figures to be the club’s top setup reliever again, and he will look to stay strong throughout the year after fading a bit late. The Angels aren’t expected to make much of a splash this offseason in terms of acquiring relief help, but they could look to add a couple of veterans, including a left-hander.

Two-way players
Locks: Shohei Ohtani
Possibilities: Jared Walsh
Ohtani won’t be eligible to be a two-way player to start the season because he only served as a designated hitter in 2019 after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow on Oct. 1, 2018. Once he reaches 20 starts at DH in '20, he’ll be eligible to be a two-way player, which essentially gives the Angels another pitcher on their roster. He’s expected to start roughly once a week. Walsh saw action as a reliever and a first baseman as a rookie, but he’s not likely to reach the 20-inning mark to become eligible.

Rhett Bollinger covers the Angels for MLB.com. He previously covered the Twins from 2011-18. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.