Inbox: Will Adell join Angels' lineup in 2020?

Beat reporter Rhett Bollinger answers questions from fans

October 14th, 2019

ANAHEIM -- The Angels have an interesting offseason ahead of them for a multitude of reasons, so let’s get right to this week’s Inbox:

Jo Adell, ranked as the No. 5 overall prospect by MLB Pipeline, has continued to improve his stock with a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League. The outfielder hit .265/.375/.441 with two homers, six doubles and seven RBIs in 16 games with the Mesa Solar Sox.

Adell, 20, remains likely to open the season at Triple-A Salt Lake, but he shouldn’t need much time before he’s ready to make his Major League debut. Adell is a natural center fielder, but he has been seeing increased playing time in right field, which is where he’ll make his debut with Mike Trout entrenched in center.

The decision on whether to pick up 's $14 million option is also a factor, but the Angels appear likely to pay the $1 million buyout instead. If the club moves on from Calhoun, could take over as the starting right fielder until Adell is ready for the Majors. The Angels would also have to decide whether is ready to be the club’s fourth outfielder or if they need to acquire one this offseason.

The Angels have yet to name a new manager after dismissing Brad Ausmus a day after the end of the regular season. They are doing their due diligence, interviewing four candidates last week in Joe Maddon, John Farrell, Buck Showalter and Johnny Washington.

Maddon remains the favorite and an announcement could come as soon as this week. One issue is the contract for Maddon, who was one of the game’s highest paid managers with the Cubs at a reported $6 million annually, and he will want to be paid accordingly. It shouldn’t be a problem for the Angels, but it’s something they’ll have to negotiate with Maddon and his agent, Alan Nero.

As for their attempt to acquire starting pitching this season, general manager Billy Eppler hasn’t said specifically how many top free agents they will target, but he’s expected to be very aggressive with the top pitchers available.

Right-hander Gerrit Cole remains the top target, but there are other frontline starters who will be free agents such as Madison Bumgarner or Stephen Strasburg if he opts out of his contract. The most realistic scenario is the Angels going after one of the elite starters and then also adding a mid-tier starter via free agency or trade.

The Angels do have some payroll flexibility with roughly $30 million coming off the books from the one-year deals of Matt Harvey, Trevor Cahill, Cody Allen and Jonathan Lucroy and would have even more to spend if they decide not to bring back Calhoun.

Outside of Mike Trout, who is locked up through the 2029 season, the only other players the Angels have under contract beyond next season are Albert Pujols and Justin Upton. Pujols has two years and $59 million remaining on his deal, while Upton is still owed $72 million over the next three seasons.

To Pujols' credit, he did stay healthy the entire season as a 39-year-old, hitting .244/.305/.430 with 23 homers and 93 RBIs in 131 games. The Angels brought in Justin Bour as someone they thought could share time at first with Pujols, but it didn’t work out with Bour struggling and spending time at Triple-A Salt Lake.

The biggest issue for the Angels is they don’t have an in-house solution at first base to replace Pujols, as prospects Matt Thaiss and Justin Walsh aren’t quite ready and it’s not a sure thing that either of them will hit enough to become regulars. They both saw some action in the Majors in 2019, but both struggled offensively.

And with the Angels’ needs at starting pitching and potentially at catcher, it doesn’t make sense for them to go out and spend or trade for a starting first baseman. So for now, Pujols is expected to continue to get time at first base until he physically isn’t able to or if his production falls off a cliff. If they had better options, they might be more willing to move on, but that just isn’t the case.

Shortstop Andrelton Simmons is headed into the last year of his deal and the Angels have a very interesting decision to make, as Simmons is still regarded as one of the game's best defenders but is coming off an injury-plagued season.

Simmons, 30, batted .264/.309/.364 with seven homers and 40 RBIs in 103 games, missing time with a severe ankle sprain that he also had to play through once he returned. So it’s hard to judge his season because of the injury that clearly seemed to affect him throughout the season.

Extending Simmons would seem to make sense because his defense at short doesn’t figure to decline much over the next few seasons. He’s also said he’d be amenable to an extension, so now it’s up to the front office if they’re interested in extending Simmons this offseason. They could also wait but some players don’t like negotiating deals during the season. Given his health risks and age, the Angels don’t seem likely to offer a deal that’s too long, but a short-term extension of three to four years could make sense for both sides.