'Our work's not done': Can Angels land Cole?

December 8th, 2019

ANAHEIM -- The Angels are ready to head south for the Winter Meetings in San Diego and remain looking to add a top-tier starting pitcher and a catcher this offseason.

The Angels made one addition to their starting rotation this week, acquiring right-hander in a trade with the Orioles for four Minor League pitchers on Wednesday. But they still have plenty to accomplish at the Winter Meetings, which will be held at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront from Sunday to Thursday.

Angels general manager Billy Eppler was pleased to add Bundy, but he knows that there’s still plenty to do at the Winter Meetings.

“Our work’s not done,” Epppler said. “But we’re thankful to be able to get one of our goals crossed off the list.”

Before the club heads to the Winter Meetings, here is an outline for where the Angels stand:

Club needs: The Angels are looking to add at least one more starting pitcher, but Eppler wouldn’t put a number on it. They also are in the market for a catcher after non-tendering Kevan Smith on Monday.

The Angels’ top target remains right-hander Gerrit Cole, who could command a record-breaking deal. But the Angels have already reportedly had a meeting with Cole, who is from Orange County, Calif. Cole has other suitors, including the Dodgers and Yankees, but the Angels are in desperate need for an elite starter and there is some industry speculation that the Angels will do whatever it takes to get Cole.

The Yankees, though, are also pushing hard for Cole, so the Angels have top-tier starters in mind in case Cole heads to New York. The Angels have reported interest in both right-hander Stephen Strasburg and lefty Hyun Jin-Ryu, according to MLB Network Insider Ken Rosenthal. Strasburg is from San Diego, while Ryu wouldn’t have to go far, moving from Los Angeles to Anaheim. Cole, Strasburg and Ryu are all represented by Scott Boras.

At catcher, the Angels have some options in free agency, including Martín Maldonado, Robinson Chirinos and Jason Castro. A reunion with Maldonado -- whom they traded to Houston in 2018 -- would make sense, especially with how well he worked with Cole last season. If the Angels are looking to be more aggressive at catcher, Cubs backstop Willson Contreras is reportedly available, but it would take a haul to acquire him because he’s just 27 years old and under contract through 2022.

Whom might they trade? The Angels aren’t likely to trade anyone on their 40-man roster, but they could instead look to move prospects in an attempt to acquire a starting pitcher or a catcher. It’s similar to their decision to move four right-handers for Bundy on Wednesday. The Angels also interestingly traded away two pitchers who were drafted last year and hadn’t even made their professional debut. So just about any prospect is available, except for No. 1 prospect Jo Adell.

Prospects to know: Adell, ranked the No. 5 overall prospect by MLB Pipeline, is the crown jewel of the farm system, but he’s considered essentially untouchable. Fellow outfield prospect Brandon Marsh is the club’s No. 2 prospect and is their most attractive trade piece. The club also has several other prospects that could intrigue other teams, including infielder Jeremiah Jackson and outfielder Jordyn Adams.

Payroll summary: Angels owner Arte Moreno said that payroll will go up next season, but he never specified by how much. Bundy was a relatively low-cost addition, as he’s due to make roughly $5 million to $6 million in arbitration next season, according to MLB Trade Rumors. But the Angels have payroll flexibility to add a player like Cole and get their goals accomplished this winter.

One question: Will they sign Gerrit Cole?
The biggest question among Angels fans remains if they can get it done and sign Cole away from the rival Astros. It's also fair to wonder when Cole will sign, as there have been other mega free agents who signed late in the offseason and Cole is a Scott Boras client. The fact that Cole is reportedly already meeting with teams and that Zack Wheeler agreed to terms with the Phillies on Wednesday could mean that Cole signs sooner rather than later, but it's hard to predict.