ANAHEIM -- This offseason will be a pivotal one for an Angels franchise that is looking to reach the postseason for the first time since 2014.
The Angels already took a big step toward signaling their readiness to compete in 2020 by hiring Joe Maddon as manager. But there are still plenty of questions this offseason as they look to bounce back from a 90-loss season. Here’s a look at some questions the Angels are facing as well as key dates:
1. Which players are free agents?
Trevor Cahill, who had a base salary of $9 million in 2019, is the club’s only impending free agent. The Angels already moved on from Matt Harvey ($11 million), Cody Allen ($8.5 million) and Jonathan Lucroy ($3.3 million). They were all signed to one-year deals for roughly $32 million combined, but none panned out.
2. Which players have options, what’s the dollar figure and impact on payroll, and when do they need to be decided upon?
A key decision for the Angels early in the offseason is whether to pick up Kole Calhoun’s $14 million option or pay a $1 million buyout. Calhoun is coming off a season in which he hit a career-high 33 homers, but the Halos seem more likely to decline the option and spend that money on pitching. The team has to decide within five days of the end of the World Series, general manager Billy Eppler said.
3. Who might be a non-tender candidate, and when does the club have to make that decision?
The Angels already parted ways with three potential non-tender candidates, as Justin Bour, Luís García and Nick Tropeano were all outrighted and elected free agency.
4. Who needs to be added to the 40-man roster this winter to avoid the Rule 5 Draft, and do the Angels have a crunch for roster spots?
Second baseman Jahmai Jones, ranked as the club's No. 6 prospect by MLB Pipeline, is the club's most notable player who must be added to the 40-man roster to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 12. Infielder Jose Rojas, who hit 31 homers with Triple-A Salt Lake, would also need to be added to the roster or he could be lost via the Rule 5 Draft. Other eligible players include outfielder Brennan Lund, catcher Jack Kruger, infielder Leonardo Rivas and reliever Jeremy Rhoades. The Angels could decide to only add Jones, and possibly Rojas, so finding roster spots shouldn’t be an issue.
Eligible players are those who signed or were drafted when they were 18 years old or younger and have logged five Minor League seasons, or those who signed or were drafted when they were 19 years old or older and have completed four Minor League seasons. The deadline to set rosters for the Rule 5 Draft is Nov. 20.
5. What kind of help do the Angels need, and will they be active in free agency? Who might they target?
The Angels are in desperate need of starting pitching, and they are expected to be very active in free agency, including going after the top pitcher available in Orange County, Calif., native Gerrit Cole. Signing the right-hander will be expensive, but it could be a signal to the industry that the Halos are ready to compete after making the postseason just once over the last 10 seasons.
The Angels are likely to add at least two starting pitchers this offseason, and they could target bullpen help as well. Expect the Halos to check in on just about every available starting pitcher, and they could also be active in the trade market. Double-A outfielder Brandon Marsh, ranked as the club’s No. 2 prospect by MLB Pipeline, is their best trade chip.