Pitching at the forefront of Angels' offseason

October 4th, 2021

ANAHEIM -- After finishing with a losing record for a sixth straight year, it’s going to be an important offseason for the Angels and general manager Perry Minasian.

Minasian, who finished his first season as Angels GM, met with the media at Angel Stadium on Monday to discuss a variety of topics, including his vision for the offseason to get the club back on track. The Angels need to build around superstars Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, and once again, it’s clear that improving the pitching staff will be the main goal this winter. The Angels went 77-85 and their 4.69 team ERA was the fourth-worst mark in the American League.

"Pitching is always going to be a priority," Minasian said. "You can never have enough. Obviously, this year showed that. We had numerous injuries on the mound and some performance issues. So you need not only quality pitching but depth. You have to be able to withstand injuries and some subpar performances. But there [are] other areas, too. We know offensively, we can be better. We struggled in the second half. Our baserunning could be better, our defense can definitely improve.”

The free agent starting pitching market is expected to include some big names such as Max Scherzer, Zack Greinke, Marcus Stroman, Robbie Ray, Kevin Gausman and Carlos Rodón, but Minasian said he could also utilize trades to bring in starting pitching. The Angels are expected to use a six-man rotation next year with Shohei Ohtani, Patrick Sandoval and José Suarez essentially locks to be part of it. It leaves the Angels to add at least two or possibly three quality starting pitchers this offseason. Right-hander Alex Cobb is also set to be a free agent and could be brought back.

"Obviously, you want as much quality as you can get and there are some big-name guys," Minasian said. "Where they are in their careers is important. How we view them going forward is important. Would you like to add frontline starters? Absolutely, I'd love to add three or four frontline starters. That would be outstanding. Realistically, that's really difficult to do. It's not that easy. Whether in free agency or trading, acquiring elite players is difficult, but it's definitely something we'll take a look at."

The bullpen will also be an area the Angels will look to improve, and it starts with retaining closer Raisel Iglesias, who is coming off an elite year in his first season with the club. The Angels also saw some youngsters step up, such as Austin Warren, José Quijada and Andrew Wantz, while Mike Mayers had a strong second half.

“We were excited with some of the young bullpen arms that ... were able to get some experience and ... pitch in high-leverage spots,” Minasian said. “But you need depth and quality. In this day and age, guys in the bullpen are everyday players."

The Angels also need to decide what they are going to do at shortstop next year, as it’s an impressive free-agent class that potentially will include Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, Corey Seager and Javier Báez, but they seem more likely to spend their money on pitching. Minasian also wouldn’t rule out moving David Fletcher to shortstop and acquiring a second baseman instead. He also liked what he saw from utility players such as Jack Mayfield and Luis Rengifo down the stretch.

"We'll look at every area that we can improve on and shortstop being one of them,” Minasian said. “That's obviously a really important position on the field. We do have some internal options, but we'll look at external possibilities, too."

Minasian added that he conducted a review process with the club’s players on the final road trip of the season and is currently reviewing the coaching staff and training staff. There have been no decisions made on the coaching staff yet, although manager Joe Maddon indicated late in the season he’d like to see his whole staff return.

Minasian made it clear that no matter what they do this offseason, their current group needs to take a step forward.

“There’s a lot of internal talent on this team, but we need to improve the players we have,” Minasian said. “There are younger players with another gear. Also on the mound, too. We can go out and make a free-agent slash on one guy and win the offseason to a certain extent, but there needs to be a lot of internal improvement, too.”