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Halos in prime position to end playoff drought

MLB.com @mi_guardado

ANAHEIM -- The Angels watched the playoffs go on without them for the third consecutive season after finishing five games behind the Twins in the American League Wild Card race in 2017. They haven't won a postseason game since 2009, even with the incomparable Mike Trout on their roster for the past six seasons.

Their lone playoff appearance with Trout came in 2014, when they were unceremoniously swept by the Royals in the American League Division Series. Trout remains signed through 2020, but the Angels' window to capitalize on the 26-year-old superstar's prime is shrinking.

ANAHEIM -- The Angels watched the playoffs go on without them for the third consecutive season after finishing five games behind the Twins in the American League Wild Card race in 2017. They haven't won a postseason game since 2009, even with the incomparable Mike Trout on their roster for the past six seasons.

Their lone playoff appearance with Trout came in 2014, when they were unceremoniously swept by the Royals in the American League Division Series. Trout remains signed through 2020, but the Angels' window to capitalize on the 26-year-old superstar's prime is shrinking.

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This offseason, the Angels have responded accordingly. Through a combination of good fortune and savvy acquisitions, general manager Billy Eppler and his staff have plugged many of the club's most glaring holes and assembled a talented supporting cast around Trout, putting the Angels in position to finally break their streak of playoff futility.

They opened the offseason by re-signing left fielder Justin Upton to a five-year, $106 million deal, but their major coup came in December, when they unexpectedly landed Japanese two-way star Shohei Ohtani, the prize of this year's free-agent class. Looking to revamp their infield and add more heft to their lineup, the Angels then acquired veteran second baseman Ian Kinsler from the Tigers and signed free-agent infielder Zack Cozart to a three-year, $38 million contract to play third base.

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The Angels will now head into the 2018 season with a significantly improved offense and one of the best defenses in baseball, though questions still abound about their rotation, which has been devastated by injuries in each of the past two seasons, and their bullpen, which lost some key contributors to free agency this winter.

The World Series-champion Astros should still enter this year as the favorites to win the AL West, but the Angels' moves likely position them as serious contenders for a Wild Card spot in 2018. Their busy offseason has also bettered their outlook for the near future, as the Angels have now secured five position players to contracts that run through at least 2020: shortstop Andrelton Simmons, right fielder Kole Calhoun, Cozart, Upton and, of course, Trout.

"This offseason has been unbelievable for our organization," Trout said during a conference call last month. "We're going the right way, and we're putting a lot of pieces together that we didn't have last year."

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com.

Los Angeles Angels