ANAHEIM -- The biggest priority for the Angels in recent offseasons has been upgrading the rotation, but this year, the focus is on improving the offense and adding to the bullpen.
The rotation wasn’t an issue in 2021 with the emergence of young lefties Patrick Sandoval, Reid Detmers and José Suarez. Angels starters combined for a 3.67 ERA that ranked as the sixth-best mark in the Majors last year. The Angels are still expected to add at least one starter, however, especially after general manager Perry Minasian said at the GM Meetings last week that he plans to stick with a six-man rotation because he doesn’t want to change Shohei Ohtani’s routine.
But Minasian made it clear that the offense needs to be improved, as the Angels finished 25th in the Majors in runs scored last year. Improving depth is also a priority, as the club couldn’t withstand injuries to stars such as Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon.
“Obviously, we did not perform well offensively in 2022,” Minasian told reporters. “There’s no secrets there. I think a lot of it was personnel. We had a lot of injuries and had a lot of people getting at-bats that we weren’t necessarily planning to give at-bats to back in April.”
Minasian added that he has the freedom to conduct a normal offseason despite owner Arte Moreno exploring a sale of the club. He’s still able to pursue free agents on multiyear deals and trade for players with multiple years of control. But he also said he doesn’t know the timeline of when or if the club will be sold.
"It's business as usual,” Minasian said. “The message I've been given is: 'We are going to improve this club.' So that's a positive message. I'm excited about that. I'm excited for this offseason. I think we have the parts of being a quality Major League team that can compete. We need depth, we need significant depth in all the areas. And from an ownership standpoint, about the sale and the timing, I don't have those answers."
Minasian pointed to the outfield as one area where the Angels could add depth despite having Trout, Taylor Ward, Mickey Moniak and Jo Adell on the roster. Moniak and Adell have yet to prove they can be productive Major League hitters, so it doesn’t appear as though they are going to be handed any jobs in Spring Training. Instead, there will be competition in camp.
“I think outfield is definitely an area we can upgrade, absolutely,” Minasian said. “We do have some younger players that have upside. But we need depth. I think it just depends on how it lines up. Maybe it’s a platoon. Maybe it’s one guy. But it’s an area we need to improve.”
The middle infield is also an area of need, and the Angels could add a corner infielder as well, especially after Jared Walsh’s struggles last year and Rendon’s injury history. Minasian added that the Angels are exploring the acquisition of an established closer after trading Raisel Iglesias to the Braves at the Trade Deadline.
It’s clear that Minasian has his work cut out for him this offseason, as the Angels have plenty of areas of need after going 73-89 last year.
"We're not one player away. We have a lot of holes to fill,” Minasian said. “I think filling that out, raising the floor to a certain extent -- and not raising the floor with Minor League talent, but raising the floor with Major League talent -- is really, really important."