Eppler feels good about Angels' roster for '19

Club able to fill several offseason needs through free agency

January 28th, 2019

ANAHEIM -- Angels general manager Billy Eppler hasn't ruled out making any more additions before pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training on Feb. 12, but he also made it clear that he's confident with the roster as it stands.

After signing closer to a one-year deal worth $8.5 million on Jan. 20, Eppler said he had to ask for owner Arte Moreno's approval, as the GM said the signing stretched the club's budget. The Angels' payroll is projected at roughly $180 million. Last year, the club had an Opening Day payroll of about $166 million and finished the season with a $176 million payroll, so it doesn't appear likely it will add much to it via free agency the rest of this offseason.

"We are a point where we feel complete with our club," Eppler said. "We feel very good with the names we have on our depth chart right now."

The Angels came into the offseason looking for starting pitching help, a veteran catcher, a left-handed bat and possibly a closer, and the club achieved those goals via free agency. The Halos signed right-hander to a one-year, $11 million deal, right-hander to a one-year, $9 million pact, while also inking backstop to a one-year, $3.35 million deal and first baseman to a one-year, $2.5 million agreement. They also acquired backup infielder from the Cubs and avoided arbitration by inking him for one year and $1.35 million.

On the pitching front, the Angels traded for left-hander for starting rotation depth from the Marlins and they acquired relief prospect from the Twins. Lefty was also traded to the Phillies for hard-throwing reliever .

So while the Angels haven't made a huge splash via free agency, they've found ways to improve the roster without sacrificing future flexibility as all of the free agents they've signed have agreed to one-year deals. But Eppler said that wasn't necessarily the plan coming in. The club did make multi-year offers to free-agent catchers and as well as starting pitchers and , while also having strong interest in relievers and .

"It wasn't scripted," Eppler said. "There were some players that we engaged on and made offers to that would've been multi-year commitments. Those didn't work out for a couple different reasons. But shorter-term deals work in a variety of ways -- they keep you flexible and they keep you open to doing things both during the season and in succeeding seasons."

As it stands, the rotation is expected to be composed of , , Harvey and Cahill with considered the front-runner for the fifth spot. Other candidates include , and Peters. Griffin Canning and Jose Suarez, ranked as the club's Nos. 2 and 8 prospects by MLB Pipeline, are expected to open at Triple-A Salt Lake.

Allen will be the closer with , Justin Anderson, , , and Garcia expected to serve as setup relievers. Others in the mix include , and Curtiss, while they wait on the returns of and from Tommy John surgery in mid-season. Ramirez could also be used as a starter depending on need.

Around the diamond, Lucroy is the starting catcher with either or as his backup, while and Bour will see time at first. Two-way star will be limited to designated hitter duty after Tommy John surgery, so he'll see time there with Pujols. is entrenched at short, while will start at second or third depending on how the infield competition shakes out in Spring Training. is the favorite to start at second, but will compete with third baseman and second base prospect Luis Rengifo for a starting spot. La Stella is also in that mix, but is more likely to be a bench player, as he led the Majors in pinch-hits last year.

The outfield is set with in center, in left and in right, while there will be a competition for the fourth outfielder spot. Non-roster invitee , who began his career with the Angels in 2010, will compete with in camp.