ANAHEIM -- After finishing with a losing record for a sixth straight year in 2021, the Angels have their work cut out for them this offseason to get back on track in ’22.
Angels general manager Perry Minasian knows the importance of this offseason, especially acquiring quality starting pitching after yet another season of struggles from the club’s rotation. The Angels need to build around their core of Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Anthony Rendon and Jared Walsh if they are to compete in ’21.
“I think pitching is always going to be a priority,” Minasian said. “You can never have enough. We understand that the mound is a place where we’d like to significantly improve. Not just improve, but significantly improve.”
With that in mind, here are some frequently asked questions about the Angels offseason:
Which players are free agents?
Closer Raisel Iglesias, catcher Kurt Suzuki, reliever Steve Cishek, outfielders Juan Lagares and Dexter Fowler and right-handers Alex Cobb and Dylan Bundy will be free agents. The Angels also moved on from several impending free agents during the season such as Albert Pujols, Andrew Heaney, Tony Watson, Alex Claudio, José Quintana and José Iglesias.
Are any of them likely to receive qualifying offers, and what is the deadline for that?
The Angels will only consider extending a qualifying offer to closer Raisel Iglesias. It’s likely they extend one to Iglesias, but he’s expected to sign a multi-year deal. Even if he rejects the qualifying offer, the Angels can still sign him to a different deal. Players have 10 days to accept or decline the qualifying offer, during which time they can negotiate with other teams. If the Angels extend a qualifying offer to Iglesias and he rejects it to sign elsewhere, the Angels receive Draft-pick compensation. The deadline for the player to accept or reject the qualifying offer is Nov. 10.
Which players have options?
The Angels have no players with options for the 2022 season.
Who might be a non-tender candidate, and when does the club have to make that decision?
The Angels don't have a large class of arbitration-eligible players, as only catcher Max Stassi, utility man Phil Gosselin and relievers Junior Guerra and Mike Mayers are eligible this offseason. Guerra is expected to be non-tendered, while Mayers and Gosselin played well enough in the second half that they are likely to be tendered. The non-tender deadline is Dec. 1.
Who needs to be added to the 40-man roster this winter to avoid the Rule 5 Draft, and do they have a crunch for roster spots?
Among the club's Top 30 prospects by MLB Pipeline, outfielder D'Shawn Knowles (No. 10), shortstop Livan Soto (No. 12), right-hander Robinson Pina (No. 20) and outfielder Orlando Martinez (No. 26) are all eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 Draft unless they are added to the 40-man roster. Same with second baseman Michael Stefanic, who had a breakout season offensively and reached Triple-A this this year. Of that group, Soto, Pina, Martinez and Stefanic are considered closest to the Majors, so they’ll get the most consideration to be added to the 40-man roster. The Angels shouldn’t have any issues finding room on the 40-man roster. The deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft is Nov. 19.
What kind of help do they need and will they be active in free agency? Who might they target?
As has been the case for several years, the Angels need more pitching again this offseason. They’re likely to add two to three starters via free agency or trade, including possibly bringing Cobb back. They’re also in the market for a closer and will try to re-sign Iglesias. The Angels will be linked to just about every available starting pitcher this offseason and there are some big names out there, including Noah Syndergaard, Max Scherzer, Zack Greinke, Justin Verlander, Marcus Stroman, Robbie Ray, Kevin Gausman and Carlos Rodón. But they’ll also be active in the trade market as well, so it’ll be interesting to see how Minasian builds the rotation.
The Angels also need to add a shortstop this offseason but are likely to spend more to fix their pitching issues. It’s a strong class of free-agent middle infielders that includes Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Trevor Story, Javier Báez, Marcus Semien and utility man Chris Taylor. There’s a chance the Angels could go after one of those players, but pitching remains the top priority.