ANAHEIM -- After a year that saw the Angels miss the postseason for the fourth straight season and longtime manager Mike Scioscia stepping down after the campaign, the Angels are ready to move on to 2019 under new manager Brad Ausmus.The Angels finished 2018 with an 80-82 record, as they
ANAHEIM -- After a year that saw the Angels miss the postseason for the fourth straight season and longtime manager Mike Scioscia stepping down after the campaign, the Angels are ready to move on to 2019 under new manager Brad Ausmus.
The Angels finished 2018 with an 80-82 record, as they struggled to keep their starting pitchers healthy, including rookie phenom and two-way star Shohei Ohtani, who underwent Tommy John surgery on Oct. 1 that will keep him from pitching in '19.
The Angels, though, still plan to contend in 2019, as they look to build around superstar Michael Trout, who finished second in the balloting for the American League Most Valuable Player Award and has two years remaining on his contract. It's clear there is still work to do for general manager Billy Eppler to add to the roster, so here's a list of five things the Angels need to do before heading to Spring Training:
1. Find bullpen help
The Angels don't have a set closer, but Eppler said there are three or four relievers on the roster who could be candidates to finish tight games. So they're not necessarily in the market for closing help, but could use an arm or two to join the bullpen. At least one lefty would make sense, especially after trading Jose Alvarez to the Phillies for hard-throwing right-hander Luis Garcia.
2. Acquire a veteran catcher
As a former catcher in the Majors for 18 seasons, Ausmus knows how important it is to have a capable leader behind the plate to handle the pitching staff. The club does have Jose Briceno and Kevan Smith on the roster, but finding a defensive-minded veteran backstop is a priority. Whoever the Angels do add will be in good hands, as the club also hired Jose Molina as a catching instructor.
3. Add another starting pitcher
Even after signing Trevor Cahill and right-hander Matt Harvey, the Angels could still use another arm in a rotation that includes Andrew Heaney and Tyler Skaggs. They'd like to find a more durable veteran, as Heaney was the only Angels pitcher to throw more than 130 innings last season. They do have some options for the back end of their rotation, including Jaime Barria, Felix Pena, Nick Tropeano and Dillon Peters, but adding another starter would bring much-needed stability.
4. Map out a plan for Ohtani
The Angels still aren't sure when Ohtani will return from Tommy John surgery to serve as the Halos' designated hitter, although Ausmus says he doesn't expect him to be ready at the start of the season. Ohtani still has a few more checkups, including an appointment with Dr. Neal ElAttrache in late January that will determine when he'll be able to return and if he'll have any playing time limitations at DH. The Angels want Ohtani to get as many at-bats as possible, but also don't want to jeopardize his pitching future.
5. Decide whether or not to keep Calhoun
The Angels aren't looking to subtract from their Major League roster, but one player who could be moved is right fielder Kole Calhoun. Calhoun is due $10.5 million in '19, with a $14 million club option in '20 that includes a $1 million buyout, so trading him would free up some salary to go after pitching. Calhoun, 31, is coming off a down year that saw him hit .187/.237/.319 in the first half before picking it up a bit in the second half, batting .231/.331/.423. He doesn't have much trade value, so it'll be up to the Angels to decide whether it's worth unloading his salary or not.
Rhett Bollinger covers the Angels for MLB.com. He previously covered the Twins from 2011-18. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.