With the centerpiece of the franchise re-signing for what seems to be his final contract before retiring, the Los Angeles Angels have to be happy. They made it through countless years of struggling, stinking, and middling performances, and were still able to retain their best player, Mike Trout, for the long haul.
But with the team finally using free agency to their advantage to make big-time additions to the team, it looks like the investment that Trout just made in the franchise is going to be paid back in a huge way.
By bringing in Anthony Rendon to become their starting third baseman for the next seven years, the Halos show that while they used to be content with finishing towards the bottom half of the American League West division, hoping that Trout did not get hurt and see him put up Most Valuable Player numbers on a regular basis, those days are [hopefully] over.
The signing of Rendon looks eerily similar to the type of splash that the team made back in the 2011 offseason when they brought first baseman Albert Pujols over from the St. Louis Cardinals. While the transition from the National League to the AL was quite the rough one for Pujols in terms of body durability and injury issues, Pujols’ has adopted the veteran role on a team devoid of playoff-experienced players who know how validating it is to finally make the postseason.
Now while Pujols has generally not lived up to the albatross, 10-year, $240 million deal, Trout has more than paid for his contract and the rest that his first baseman has not. The face of the franchise, Trout was drafted by the Halos and has played for only them in his professional career, something that does not look like it will change as he transitions from his first huge contract into his next large deal.
Outside of Trout, Rendon, and Pujols, the Angels roster looks to be set up quite well to actually compete and threaten for a playoff spot in 2020 and moving forward. Here is the projected starting lineup for this upcoming season:
C Max Stassi
DH Shohei Ohtani
1B Albert Pujols
2B Tommy La Stella
SS Andrelton Simmons
3B Anthony Rendon
LF Justin Upton
CF Mike Trout
RF Brian Goodwin
SP Shohei Ohtani
SP Dylan Bundy
SP Andrew Heaney
SP Griffin Canning
SP Dillon Peters / Felix Pena / Peter Sandoval
Starting with the infield, incumbent backstop Max Stassi could use an upgrade, which the Angels are rumored to be interested in making, as both Robinson Chirinos and Martin Maldonado seem to be on the radar of the Halos this offseason. Designated hitter looks to be very solid, as the schedule moving forward with Shohei Ohtani includes him playing the role of DH on most off days that he is not toeing the rubber as a starting pitcher.
Pujols is a bit of a defensive issue as he gets older, but he is still above average at the position, and his bat does enough to make him the everyday starter yet again this year. Tommy La Stella, who managed to make the AL All-Star team before succumbing to an injury in the second half of the regular season, is penciled in as the starting second baseman and looks to repeat his offensive success in 2020.
Defensive whiz Andrelton Simmons put together a pretty typical season for Simmons, and the former members of the Atlanta Braves is securely planted as the team’s shortstop for 2020 and beyond. Rendon has the hot corner role down pat for the next seven seasons, which requires no real explanation.
In the outfield, the veteran cast of Justin Upton in left field and Trout in center field will be joined in the starting lineup by right fielder Brian Goodwin, who will most likely be this team’s starter in right field due to Kole Calhoun being a free agent. Goodwin is no true power threat by any means and his defense is not as strong as what Calhoun brings to the table, but Goodwin will easily be overshadowed by both Trouth and Upton when roaming the outfield grass.
Looking at the team’s starting rotation, outside of Ohtani and recently-acquired Dylan Bundy, they are struggling to put together a competitive rotation, which is why they were in on signing Gerrit Cole and have now, reportedly, switched their efforts to courting Madison Bumgarner, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dallas Keuchel or even trading for Jon Gray from the Colorado Rockies.
Andrew Heaney looks to be a really solid up and coming arm that should fit nicely into the middle of the rotation for the Halos, and some sort of a combination of Griffin Canning, Dillon Peters, Felix Pena, and Peter Sandoval can hold down the back-end of the rotation, or until a new arm is added to the equation.
While every team needs to upgrade their bullpen on a yearly basis, the Angels have such a middle of the road bullpen, that there are a bunch of holes that should be patched up. Their incumbent closer, Hansel Robles, looks to be the strongest member of their ‘pen, having saved 23 games in 27 opportunities, earning seven victories along the way.
With the Houston Astros having to deal with their cheating scandal that rocked the rest of the MLB, the Oakland Athletics having forced talent out of the door yet again due to payroll constraints, and the Texas Rangers are looking to be stuck between competing with their interest in big-time free agents or to tank yet again, the Angels are in a very enviable spot in the AL. On the cusp of competing to make it to the postseason, and with having added Rendon and with interest to bring in more talent, the Angels are on the rise, and should be billed as an upstart threat to break into the playoffs in 2020.