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Inbox: Who will handle closing duties?

Beat reporter Maria Guardado answers fans' questions
MLB.com @mi_guardado

How will the Angels handle the closer role in the future?
-- Luke D., Cambridge, N.Y.

I don't think anyone will carry the official closer designation, but I expect Cam Bedrosian to handle the bulk of the save opportunities for the Angels moving forward. Bedrosian has picked up three saves in the past six games, but the Halos have tried to stay away from using him on back-to-back days since he came back from his groin injury. So Keynan Middleton, Blake Parker and Yusmeiro Petit are among the relievers who could also be deployed in the ninth inning.

How will the Angels handle the closer role in the future?
-- Luke D., Cambridge, N.Y.

I don't think anyone will carry the official closer designation, but I expect Cam Bedrosian to handle the bulk of the save opportunities for the Angels moving forward. Bedrosian has picked up three saves in the past six games, but the Halos have tried to stay away from using him on back-to-back days since he came back from his groin injury. So Keynan Middleton, Blake Parker and Yusmeiro Petit are among the relievers who could also be deployed in the ninth inning.

I think Bud Norris could also work himself back into the back-end mix if he can recover the effectiveness that he had for most of the season. He's had a rough month, but he did record a 2.23 ERA over 40 1/3 innings in his first 41 appearances for the Angels this year.

:: Submit a question to the Angels Inbox ::

Why didn't the Angels attempt to improve the team before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, or even later?
-- Mark P., Orange, Calif.

The Angels, if you recall, were five games out of an American League Wild Card spot at the Deadline, so I don't think you can blame them for not being aggressive buyers at that point in the season. General manager Billy Eppler said he did engage in substantive conversations about adding Major League players, but nothing came to fruition, and any impactful moves would have come at a steep price to the Angels' thin farm system.

The Halos still have a chance to bring in reinforcements before the end of the month, but those trades are more complicated because players must clear revocable trade waivers before they're eligible to be dealt. The Indians pulled one such deal off to acquire Jay Bruce from the Mets, but I don't think he would have been a good fit for the Angels, who wouldn't have had a spot for him in the outfield and prefer controllable players instead of rentals.

And while it's true that the Angels have not been huge players in the free-agent market over the past couple of years, owner Arte Moreno said during Spring Training that he expects the club to have a lot more financial flexibility soon, particularly once Josh Hamilton's contract comes off the books this winter. I think it's likely that the Angels will make one or two splashy signings to fill some of their holes over the offseason.

When will Garrett Richards officially come back from his injury?
-- Jason B., Anchorage, Alaska

Richards has been throwing bullpen sessions, and he is expected to start facing hitters this week. After that, he'll likely need a few rehab outings before he's ready to return to the Majors. Barring any setbacks, I think he'll be back in early September.

Who are the Angels' upcoming free agents?
-- Brian S., Garden Grove, Calif.

The Angels have eight players on expiring contracts: Yunel Escobar, Cameron Maybin, Ben Revere, Norris, Petit, Andrew Bailey, Jesse Chavez and Cliff Pennington. Ricky Nolasco ($13 million club option for 2018 with a $1 million buyout) and Huston Street ($10 million club option for '18 with a $1 million buyout) are also potential free agents.

Is Kaleb Cowart a long-term solution at second base?
-- Logan D., La Palma, Calif.

For now, the Angels are definitely giving Cowart an extended look at second, as he's started 14 games there since being recalled in July. Cowart, a natural third baseman, appears to have handled the defensive transition to second well, but the question now is whether he'll be able to hit consistently enough in the Majors. While he batted .438 (14-for-32) through his first 10 games, Cowart has cooled off and has produced only one hit in his past 22 at-bats. He'll have to continue to make offensive strides before the Angels are willing to commit to him at any position long-term. I think it's more likely that the Angels will eventually trade for a second baseman, but they will have other openings around their infield next season with the pending free agency of Escobar and Pennington. Cowart will be an internal candidate to fill them, so I think he'll be with the Angels in some capacity next season.

What's the status of pitcher Nick Tropeano?
-- Chuck M., Henderson, Nev.

Tropeano is out for the season as he continues rehab from Tommy John surgery, but he has progressed to throwing off a mound, and he is aiming to pitch in the instructional league this fall. He is expected to be healthy come Spring Training.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com.

Los Angeles Angels