With the Los Angeles Angels having made one major splash in free agency with the signing of Anthony Rendon, their failed pursuit of a second, Gerrit Cole and Madison Bumgarner, has made them look a different direction.
According to Jon Morosi, the Angels are highly motivated to make a move to upgrade their starting pitching, and they have checked in on the status of pending free agents Hyun-Jin Ryu and Dallas Keuchel, among others. Morosi also noted that common trade candidate Jon Gray of the Colorado Rockies makes sense for this American League West team as well.
After having signed Rendon for seven years and $245 million, pairing him with Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani is helping this team finally get into the realm of being a playoff contender, something that has somehow been lacking in almost every season that Trout has been a member of the Angels. And with their franchise center fielder having just signed a lucrative long-term extension to remain in Los Angeles, most likely for the remainder of his professional career, this team needed to make some sort of moves on the open market to show that they are not just content with being a middle-ground team each and every season.
While their activity in free agency may look to be the area that they are most invested in, their moves through the trade market have been just as, if not more, important to the type of team that they are looking to field in 2020 and beyond.
Clearing salary with a move to send out infielder Zach Cozart, they made a trade with the San Francisco Giants that was no more than a salary dump, although it did include their 2019 first round draft selection, Will Wilson, to necessitate the move.
They also came to an agreement on a deal to acquire starting pitching earlier this offseason, sending four players, two of which were also 2019 draft picks, to the Baltimore Orioles in return for Dylan Bundy, who could be in for a bounceback season now that he is not pitching for a horrendous Orioles squad.
The amount of money that the Angels are looking to pay seems to have no strict value attached to it, although they are committed to dumping salary if possible at the same time. Prospect wise, any sort of a deal that they could put together will most likely not involve toolsy outfielder Jo Adell, who is one of the minor league’s best players and would fetch a pretty penny if included in any return package.
Outside of upgrading their starting pitching, the team also has a hole at the catcher position, as Max Stassi is the team’s incumbent starter at backstop. A name that could be picking up more rumors as the offseason moves on is Willson Contreras of the Chicago Cubs, who would be that big-time get for the Angels on the trade front, although Adell would almost certainly have to be included in that type of a deal.
While unable to bring it either Bumgarner or Cole, the willingness of the Angels to show the rest of the league that they are done with sitting on their hands and hoping that Trout can pull MVP after MVP seasons out on a yearly basis means that there looks to be yet another contender for a playoff spot in the AL.
Whether acquiring players through free agency or through a trade, the Angels are committed to making this team much more competent and competitive, which is the least that they can do for having wasted prime years of Trout’s career up to this point so far.
Even if a divisional title is out of reach for this surging team in 2020, a Wild Card run should absolutely not be out of the question, and their rise to the top of the AL playoff crowd could hinge on the development of Rendon and Trout together, combined with Ohtani getting back to form and old reliable Albert Pujols putting up Pujols-like seasons yet again.