With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's Angels squad each day this week. Today's topic: What's the difference?ANAHEIM -- It's been a busy offseason for Angels general manager Billy Eppler. Following the team's disappointing 88-loss 2016 campaign, Eppler was tasked
With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's Angels squad each day this week. Today's topic: What's the difference?
ANAHEIM -- It's been a busy offseason for Angels general manager Billy Eppler. Following the team's disappointing 88-loss 2016 campaign, Eppler was tasked with upgrading the club's roster and plugging several gaping holes in the lineup, most notably at second base and left field.
Despite operating on a limited budget, it didn't take long for the Angels to go to work addressing those needs. Through a pair of smart but quiet trades, Eppler filled two key voids for the club and improved two positional deficiencies from last season.
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On the first day of the offseason, the Angels filled their vacancy in left field by acquiring Cameron Maybin from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for Minor League right-hander Victor Alcantara. Maybin, whose $9 million option for 2017 was picked up, is expected to bring stability to what has been a volatile position for the Angels since Josh Hamilton's departure.
Maybin, 29, enjoyed a career-best offensive season with the Tigers in 2016, batting .315 with a .383 on-base percentage, four home runs and 43 RBIs over 94 games. Though he missed the first six weeks with a broken wrist and a sore shoulder, the right-handed hitting Maybin emerged as a spark at the top of Detroit's lineup. Despite playing almost exclusively in center field for the Tigers, Maybin graded well defensively and will now transition to left field for the Angels.
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Overall, Maybin represents a clear upgrade over the platoon of Daniel Nava and Craig Gentry the Angels fielded in 2016. The 10 players who appeared in left field for Los Angeles last season combine to post a .584 OPS, the worst mark in baseball.
Should Maybin's resurgent 2016 campaign prove to be an aberration, the Angels also bolstered their outfield depth by signing veteran Ben Revere to a one-year, $4 million deal over the winter. Revere, 28, is a career .285 hitter who is capable of manning all three outfield spots, though he is coming off a down season with the Nationals -- he hit .217 with a .260 on-base percentage over 103 games and also dealt with an oblique injury. Still, Los Angeles will also have the option of platooning Maybin and Revere, who bats left-handed, in order to maximize their left-field production.
The Angels will also debut a new full-time second baseman in Danny Espinosa, who was acquired from the Nationals in exchange for Minor Leaguers Austin Adams and Kyle McGowin in December. Espinosa will replace Johnny Giavotella, who manned the keystone for Los Angeles for the past two seasons before being cut in August.
Espinosa, 29, started at shortstop for the Nationals in 2016, though he has extensive experience playing second. Espinosa is known for his rocket arm and will team up with shortstop Andrelton Simmons to give the Angels one of the best double-play combinations in baseball. The switch-hitting Espinosa batted .209 with a career-high 24 home runs over 157 games last season, but he has also proven to be strikeout-prone over the course of his career. He will earn $5.425 million in his final year of arbitration and will be a free agent at the end of next season.
Angels pitchers and catchers will hold their first workout in Tempe, Ariz., on Feb. 15, while the first full-squad workout is set for Feb. 18.
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com.