What to watch for: Angels offseason FAQ
The Angels are in the midst of a search for a new general manager in what is sure to be an interesting offseason for the club, as they are looking to add pieces to build around Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon and Shohei Ohtani.
The Angels are looking to have a new GM in place by Thanksgiving, but it’s likely they make a hire before then. Assistant general manager Jonathan Strangio is acting as the de facto GM after the dismissal of Billy Eppler with one year left on his contract.
So, the Angels can continue to move forward this offseason even before a GM hire -- and adding pitching is going to be a top priority after the club finished 25th in the Majors in ERA. But there’s much more to the offseason than just that. Here’s a look at some frequently asked questions regarding the Angels this offseason:
Which players are free agents?
Shortstop Andrelton Simmons and right-handers Julio Teheran and Cam Bedrosian are all free agents, but the Angels don’t have any others after dealing impending free agents Tommy La Stella and Jason Castro before the Trade Deadline.
Were any of them likely to receive qualifying offers, and what was the deadline for that?
Simmons could’ve been a candidate for a qualifying offer, but he played in just 30 games, missing time due to another left ankle sprain and then electing not to play the final five games of the season, citing COVID-19 concerns. The qualifying offer was $18.9 million this year, which is more than the Angels would be willing to pay Simmons for one year. The deadline was Sunday at 2 p.m. PT.
Which players had contract options?
The Angels did not have any players with 2021 options in their contracts. The only players signed beyond '21 are Justin Upton, Trout and Rendon. Upton is signed through '22, while Trout is signed through ‘30 and Rendon is signed through '26.
Who might be a non-tender candidate, and when does the club have to make that decision?
It's expected more players will be non-tendered this offseason given the uncertainty and revenue loss caused by the pandemic. The Angels have several candidates who could be non-tendered. Relievers Hansel Robles, Jacob Barnes and Justin Anderson are the most likely to be non-tendered, while others who could be considered include Matt Andriese and Keynan Middleton. Reliever Noé Ramirez was solid in 2020 and is likely to be tendered a contract.
Others who are eligible for arbitration but are expected to be tendered include Ohtani, catcher Max Stassi, lefty Andrew Heaney and right-handers Dylan Bundy and Felix Peña. The deadline to make those decisions is Dec. 2.
Who needs to be added to the 40-man roster this winter to avoid the Rule 5 Draft, and do they have a crunch for roster spots?
Prospects Brandon Marsh and Chris Rodriguez are the most notable players the Angels will need to protect from the Rule 5 Draft. Marsh is ranked as the club’s No. 1 prospect by MLB Pipeline, while Rodriguez is ranked No. 6. But the Angels also have three more players ranked among their Top 30 prospects, who must be added to the 40-man roster or they'll be eligible to the Rule 5 Draft. Left-hander Packy Naughton, who was acquired from the Reds for outfielder Brian Goodwin in a Trade Deadline deal, will need to be added as well as right-hander Jose Soriano and infielder Livan Soto. Naughton is the club’s No. 12 prospect, while Soriano is No. 13 and Soto is No. 19. The Angels shouldn’t have trouble finding room on the roster, however. Players must be added to the 40-man roster by Nov. 20.
If so, how might that be resolved, and when does that need to be set?
The Angels have plenty of non-tender candidates and could clear more space by designating players for assignment to take them off the 40-man roster. Pitchers who could be DFA’d include Hoby Milner, Kyle Keller, José Quijada and Dillon Peters. Catcher José Briceño and infielder Elliot Soto could also be removed from the 40-man roster.
What kind of help do they need and will they be active in free agency? Who might they target?
The Angels need pitching, pitching and then more pitching this offseason. They will be looking for both rotation and bullpen help, as their starters combined to post the second-worst ERA in the Majors, while their relievers led the Majors with 14 blown saves. Trevor Bauer and Marcus Stroman are at the top of the club's free-agent list to improve the rotation, but it’s still unclear how much the Angels will be willing to spend this offseason until they get their new GM in place. If the Angels bring in a veteran GM like Dave Dombrowski, they’re expected to be aggressive this offseason, as they are not looking to rebuild.
Outside of pitching, they could look to add a middle infielder -- as Simmons is likely to sign elsewhere -- while they have to assess their catching situation. But pitching will again be the top priority, as it has been an issue for the club for several years -- and one of the main reasons why they have missed the postseason for six straight seasons.