As Winter Meetings wrap, Angels 'still want to do more'

December 7th, 2022

SAN DIEGO -- The Angels continued their busy offseason this week at the Winter Meetings, as they filled another need by signing a potential closer in right-handed reliever Carlos Estévez on Monday.

It was the fourth notable addition for the Angels this offseason, as they also inked lefty Tyler Anderson to a three-year deal worth $39 million and traded for both infielder Gio Urshela and outfielder Hunter Renfroe. And general manager Perry Minasian said he’s not done adding to the club, as the Angels still have other needs in the middle infield, bullpen and rotation.

"We've been able to improve this club, I feel like significantly at this point in the offseason, and we still want to do more," Minasian said. "There are still areas where we can improve, and I'd love to do that."

It was also another sign that the Angels are willing to spend despite owner Arte Moreno exploring a sale of the team. Commissioner Rob Manfred said on Tuesday that prospective buyers have been given financial information and that he’s hopeful a sale could happen before the start of the 2023 season.

“My understanding is that the club would like to have the sale resolved before Opening Day,” Manfred said. “Whether that happens, I think depends in part on the bidding process and how quickly you can get documents done.”

The Angels have been aggressive despite the potential sale. Their payroll is up to roughly $198 million, per FanGraphs. For Competitive Balance Tax purposes, the club's payroll is roughly $212 million. The first CBT threshold is $233 million, and Minasian said there's a chance Los Angeles' spending could exceed it.

“I think there's a possibility,” Minasian said. “There's no mandate that we can't. It just depends on the opportunities."

The Angels were in the market for bullpen help and signed Estévez, who will turn 30 later this month. He's coming off a strong year with the Rockies, posting a 3.47 ERA with 54 strikeouts in 57 innings despite pitching home games at hitter-friendly Coors Field. Estévez has spent his entire six-year career with Colorado and said he's excited to join the Angels, especially because he has a chance to close. He has 25 career saves, including 11 in 2021.

“I’m not going to lie, it would be great if I won the closer job,” Estévez said via Zoom. “What reliever doesn’t want to be a closer? If they tell you they don’t want to be a closer, I mean, come on."

1. Middle infield:
Ideally, the Angels would acquire a starting shortstop to add to their middle infield mix that includes Luis Rengifo, David Fletcher, Andrew Velazquez and Livan Soto. But it doesn’t seem likely they’ll go after stars such as Carlos Correa or Dansby Swanson in free agency, as they still have other holes to fill. Minasian, though, didn't rule out acquiring a second baseman or making a trade. But it’s clear that the middle infield is an area the Angels want to improve.

2. Bullpen: Even after adding Estévez, Los Angeles still want to add more depth to its relief corps. Estévez joins a group that’s expected to include Aaron Loup, Ryan Tepera, Jimmy Herget, José Quijada, Jaime Barría and Andrew Wantz. Estévez could emerge to fill the closer role vacated when Raisel Iglesias was traded to Atlanta at the 2022 Trade Deadline, but Minasian said he’s still looking for bullpen help.

3. Starting pitching: The Angels have five quality starters in Shohei Ohtani, Patrick Sandoval, José Suarez, Reid Detmers and Anderson, but they’re planning on using a six-man rotation again in 2023. A splash into the top of the market isn't likely, but Minasian could add a veteran on a one-year deal to fortify the rotation.

The Angels did not select or lose any players in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft on Wednesday. Their 40-man roster is full.

"It's been an intense couple of days, probably for everyone. A lack of sleep would be the best way to define these three, four days. But with that being said, there's a lot of opportunity and I don't think anybody takes that for granted. So every club puts everything they had into it and tries to do the best for their particular organization. We’ve met with a lot of players and representation. That’s part of the job, to find out what the possibilities are." -- Minasian