Halos lay groundwork at GM Meetings

First base, second base among Angels' offseason pursuits

November 14th, 2017

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Angels will continue the exploratory phase of their offseason this week, as general manager Billy Eppler and the rest of the club's front-office contingent arrived in Orlando, Fla., on Monday for the annual General Managers Meetings, where executives and agents congregate to lay the groundwork for potential winter transactions.

Finding more bats will continue to be a priority for the Angels, who are expected to meet with the representatives for free-agent first baseman this week, according to MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi.

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Morrison, a 30-year-old left-handed hitter, is coming off a breakout season in which he hit a career-high 38 home runs while batting .246 with an .868 OPS in 149 games for the Rays. Entering 2017, he had averaged 12 home runs with a .741 OPS over his first seven seasons in the Majors.

Morrison fits the Angels' preference for more left-handed hitters and would be a possible offensive upgrade at first base, where the Halos struggled to get consistent production out of and C.J. Cron this season. Valbuena has the flexibility to play both corner-infield spots, but Cron would likely become expendable if the Angels decide to add an everyday first baseman this winter.

"I'm always open-minded to getting better if we can, or shoring it up," Eppler said Monday when asked about his corner-infield situation. "If that lends itself to a particular handedness, then so be it."

Among the Angels' other pressing needs is second base, where they have no obvious candidates to succeed veteran , who was acquired to help the club's playoff push in September and is now a free agent. is the Angels' best internal option, but the former top infield prospect struggled with offensive consistency after receiving a chance to start at second base this year.

Eppler said it "remains to be seen" if the Angels will aim to fill their hole at second base via free agency or the trade market. will be among the free-agent second basemen available this offseason, though the Angels could also try to swing a trade for a player like the Phillies' or the Marlins' Dee Gordon.

"We'll continue some dialogue that's already started with some other clubs and some agents to this point and start peeling back layers on what we might be able to get done or what we might be able to accomplish," Eppler said. "Just continue to have a little bit more of the discovery process and try to separate fact from fantasy."

The GM Meetings will run through Wednesday.

Worth noting

• Eppler said the Angels are searching for a new bench coach, as Dino Ebel will shift to third-base coach and replace Ron Roenicke, who left to become the Red Sox's bench coach earlier this month. The Angels will interview candidates when Eppler returns to Southern California later this week.

• The Angels also figure to be in the market for pitching help, both starters and relievers. Eppler said he plans to speak with 's agent about the possibility of retaining the veteran right-hander for next season. Petit, 32, posted a 2.76 ERA across 91 1/3 innings for the Angels in 2017.

"He did great for us this year," Eppler said. "I'll have conversations with his representative and see if something can work out."