Predicting Angels' 2021 Opening Day roster

February 21st, 2021

In his first offseason with the club, Angels general manager Perry Minasian filled holes in the rotation and bullpen, while also adding depth at catcher, shortstop and in the outfield.

But it’s a group of veterans who are almost exclusively heading into free agency after the season, as the only players under contract beyond 2021 are Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, Shohei Ohtani and Justin Upton. The Angels, though, plan to compete this season and are aiming for their first postseason berth since 2014.

Things can certainly change as Spring Training goes along, but here’s an early look at how the roster could shape up on Opening Day:

Catcher (2): ,
Stassi was surprisingly solid in 2020 but underwent left hip surgery after the season ended. He’s expected to be ready for the start of the season, however. The Angels added Suzuki on a one-year deal to add to their catching depth, with Anthony Bemboom also remaining on the 40-man roster.

First base (1):
Walsh had a breakout rookie year keyed by a strong September, finishing with a .293/.324/.646 batting line with nine homers and 26 RBIs in 32 games. He's expected to be the club's primary first baseman, but he has to prove his numbers weren’t a fluke.

Second base (1):
Fletcher takes over as the everyday second baseman after moving around a bit last season, including stints at both third base and shortstop because of injuries to Rendon and Andrelton Simmons. Fletcher is a prototypical leadoff hitter and one of the better defenders on the team.

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Third base (1):
Rendon remains entrenched at third base after signing a seven-year deal before last season. He’s generally regarded as the best all-around third baseman in the Majors.

Shortstop (1):
Iglesias takes over for Simmons and also provides strong defense at shortstop. He’s coming off an impressive year offensively with Orioles, but he’ll have to prove he can do it over a full season in 2021.

Outfield (4): , , ,
Trout, Upton and Fowler will start in center, left and right field, respectively, while there is an open competition for the fourth outfielder job. Ward is competing against non-roster invitees Jon Jay and Juan Lagares, while youngsters Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh are in the mix. Jay is one to watch, but Ward has the advantage of being on the 40-man roster.

Utility (1):
Barreto is coming off left shoulder surgery and is set to compete for a utility role with Luis Rengifo, Robel García and non-roster invitees Phil Gosselin and Kean Wong. Barreto is coming off a rough year but is out of options, which could give him a leg up if the competition is close.

Designated hitter (1):
Pujols, who is in the last year of his 10-year contract, will also play some first base, but he is likely to see most of his time at DH -- at least, when Ohtani is not in the lineup. He could serve as a platoon at first, batting against left-handers to give the left-handed-hitting Walsh a break.

Two-way (pitcher/DH, 1):
Ohtani is returning to two-way status in 2021 and is healthy after an elbow/forearm injury that limited him to just two starts on the mound. The Angels plan to be aggressive with him, starting him on the mound and using him as a DH.

Starting pitchers (5): , , , ,
Barring an injury or an unexpected addition, the rotation is essentially set after the offseason acquisitions of Quintana and Cobb. Bundy was the club’s ace in 2020, Heaney stayed healthy and was solid and Canning is emerging a dependable starter.

Relievers (8): , , , , , , ,
Iglesias, Buttrey, Mayers, Peña and Barria are essentially locks, while Claudio is also one if he gets healthy enough after battling a right hip infection early in camp. Guerra is a non-roster invitee but will get a long look. Rivera is the club’s Rule 5 Draft pick, so he’ll also get strong consideration. Others in the mix include Aaron Slegers, Luke Bard, Patrick Sandoval, José Quijada, Gerardo Reyes, Kyle Keller, Zac Ryan and Jake Reed.