GM Minasian says he's not done improving Angels' roster

March 16th, 2022

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels general manager Perry Minasian met with the media for the first time since the lockout on Wednesday and indicated that he’s still trying to improve the roster before Opening Day on April 7.

The Angels, though, have only made one move since the lockout ended on Saturday, signing veteran catcher Kurt Suzuki to a one-year deal worth $1.75 million that became official on Wednesday. Minasian, though, said he’s been active on both the free agency and trade front, but nothing has come to fruition just yet outside of bringing back Suzuki.

"I feel like we've improved from where we are last year," Minasian said. "I think if you ask the guys in the locker room, I think they would say the same thing. And then we've added some significant pieces earlier in the offseason. I know there's some what have you done for me lately. But we like where we're at now. Can we get better? Absolutely. There's areas we can improve."

Minasian said the rotation and bullpen are the main areas he’s looking to improve, but he wouldn’t rule out adding another position player. The Angels are thin at shortstop and Carlos Correa and Trevor Story remain on the free-agent market, but it would be a surprise if the Angels made a splash for a position player.

The Angels have also been linked to free-agent lefty Tyler Anderson, as the free-agent starting-pitching market is starting to thin out. Veteran Johnny Cueto is a free agent, while other pitchers reportedly available on the trade market include Cincinnati’s Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle and Oakland’s Sean Manaea and Frankie Montas.

“There's been a lot of talented players come off the board,” Minasian said. “I think we've added talented players. I think we were more than one of the more aggressive teams out of the chute.

"I understand fans’ frustration. They’re expecting things to happen quickly. All I can say is we feel like we’ve improved since last year. I know it’s what have you done for me lately but I like where we’re at.”

Minasian, though, said it’s difficult to know whether the additions will come via free agency or trade at this point. But time is an issue with the shortened Spring Training, as the Angels begin Cactus League play on Friday.

“It’s hard to predict," Minasian said. "We’ve had a lot of conversations, a lot of dialogue. Sometimes you feel like it’s going the right way, sometimes you feel like you’ve got to make a U-turn.”

If the Angels decide not to add a shortstop, they’ll stick with internal options such as Andrew Velazquez, Luis Rengifo and Tyler Wade. And as of now, the Angels have a competition for the sixth spot in the rotation, as Shohei Ohtani, Noah Syndergaard, Michael Lorenzen, José Suarez and Patrick Sandoval are considered locks. But the Angels lost a bit of their depth, as right-hander Griffin Canning suffered a setback with his lower back injury and won’t throw off a mound for another month.

It leaves Jaime Barría and Reid Detmers as the top two candidates for that sixth spot, although others are in the mix, such as Janson Junk, Packy Naughton and Jhonathan Diaz.

“We do have internal options, which is comforting,” Minasian said. “With that being said, we're looking for the right opportunity, the right fit, and there are still talented players and free agents that we're able to discuss and throw concepts at back and forth. It’s something we'll continue to do.”

Minasian, though, declined to say how much payroll flexibility he has left going into the season. But he said he has the full support of owner Arte Moreno and he doesn’t believe payroll is an issue. The Angels are roughly $40 million under the new CBT level of $230 million.

"This is an ownership group that is committed to winning," Minasian said. "I have not been told no on anything. That's been the most comforting thing coming here. The support of ownership when the right opportunity presents itself. They care and want to win. I have no limitations."