Angels Infield Depth A Strength Going Into 2023 Season
MLB: Houston Astros at Los Angeles Angels
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Adding to the Los Angeles Angels infield was a priority heading into this offseason, and after trading for Gio Urshela and signing Brandon Drury on a two-year deal, general manager Perry Minasian has accomplished what he set out to do: provide depth.

The Angels had to dip deep into their incredibly thin Minor League depth following multiple injuries last season to David Fletcher and Anthony Rendon for extended periods of time. But a positional group of Jared Walsh, Urshela, Drury, Luis Rengifo and a healthy Fletcher will be available for manager Phil Nevin in 2023.

Rengifo figures to move around the infield but should see extended time at shortstop. He enjoyed the best year of his career last season, posting a 108 wRC+ in the second half while carrying a .744 on-base plus slugging over his final 69 games.

Rendon made his return to the field late in the season to shake off the rust from wrist surgery and will be plated at the hot corner. His omission from the Angels lineup was truly felt, mainly because when healthy, he’s one of the most consistent and technically sound hitters in all of Major League Baseball.

Drury should start at second base, but he has the ability to move all around the infield. David Fletcher is another option to start at both middle infield spots, giving the Angels a ton of versatility and quality players that they lacked last season.

Walsh is expected to be their first baseman heading into Spring Training.

Urshela is the wild card in this group, mainly because he’s seen time at all four infield positions. Nevin expressed how happy he was to have him on the roster, but also noted there isn’t anything set in stone as of now.

“The best way I can answer that, I got asked the same question when we signed, when we traded for Gio,” Nevin said. “I don’t have to make a lineup on December 6. I certainly sit and brainstorm and do that a lot.

“There’s so many things are going to happen before Opening Day. The fact is we have a lot of options, we have a lot of depth, and it’s something that we struggled with in the past when we’ve had injuries.

“You don’t plan to have injuries but the fact is they happen. And we know we’re deeper. We know we’re stronger. We know at full strength how deep our lineup is and how much it’s lengthened us out.

“I’m excited to have all of them. Gio and I have a great relationship from the Yankees. He Facetimed right away. It was a pretty cool call.”

If Walsh isn’t ready to go due to performance or injury-related issues, Urshela could seamlessly step in, and Nevin feels good about a possible platoon between the two if anything impacts his options.

“It could. We’ll see how Walsh is after — all signs point to him being back at 100 percent,” Nevin said. “He can also play the corners. You guys know in the outfield, plays a good first base. We’ll see where he’s at when he comes in.

“The luxury I have is I’ve got a lot of different options and a lot of different bodies. And come March 28 or whatever it is, Opening Day, those decisions will probably play themselves out.

As it stands, the Angels don’t need to add anyone to the infield mix after Drury. But ahead of the trade deadline, Minisasian should be aware of Walsh’s health and if he’s still getting acclimated following a surgery that has certainly taken its toll on other athletes in their return to peak performance.

David Fletcher focused on adding strength during Angels offseason

The 28-year-old appeared in only 61 games while dealing with multiple injuries, including a hip strain and right-hand bone bruise. He endured a second consecutive subpar season, hitting only .255/.288/.333 with 12 extra-base hits and 17 RBI in 228 plate appearances.

Fletcher is looking to return to his previous form and has prioritized adding strength this winter to prevent future injuries. “I think players, throughout their career, you’re constantly having to change and make changes either with your body or mentally. And it was a challenging year for Fletch,” Angels manager Phil Nevin said.

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