For the Los Angeles Angels, the search for frontline starting pitchers has been somewhat of a fool’s errand. Every year, the Angels wind up in talks to land one of the premier starters on the market, and walk away with bargain-bin signings that ultimately don’t pan out.
Angels manager Joe Maddon is tired of that. And this offseason, he plans to change that in the biggest way possible. He made it abundantly clear with recent comments that the Angels need to add two top-level starters in order to rise to championship contention, saying that the franchise cannot continue in this direction.
This plan sounds like a slam dunk on the surface. However, convincing those starters to sign in Anaheim is the difficult part, as there is no winning history to sell them on. Instead, Maddon plans to sell them on being the ones to make that history, according to Bill Shaikin of The L.A. Times:
“They could be the reason why we win,” Maddon said before Friday’s game. “They would be the reason why we win… We need people like that to make us elite. Absolutely. Those are the kinds of arms we need to get us going in the right direction.”
Of course, chasing after these types of pitchers is the exact plan they need to be set on. This team — at full strength — has one of the best offenses in all of baseball. Could improvements be used at shortstop or elsewhere? Maybe, but it’s not nearly as important as pitching.
And the Angels will certainly have a lot of good options to pursue. Clayton Kershaw is unlikely to leave the L.A. Dodgers, but perhaps the Angels can get a chance at Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke, Marcus Stroman, Kevin Gausman, Noah Syndergaard, and Robbie Ray.
Landing any two of these names would likely be considered the most successful free agency in a very long time for this franchise.
Maddon firmly believes that he can sell two pitchers on the idea of being the reason the Angels leapfrog into contention. It’s not a horrible plan, as he isn’t too far away from the truth. If the Angels go into next season with a fully healthy offense, and a revamped starting rotation, there’s no reason they couldn’t at least make the playoffs.
Ohtani delivers clear message to Angels
Maddon and Perry Minasian are not the only ones putting pressure on themselves to win now. Even Ohtani has gone public with the suggestion that if the Angels cannot win soon, he could leave in free agency.
He said this after the Angels clinched another losing season, saying that winning would take priority above all else in a free agency situation.