The Los Angeles Angels went into the offseason with a clear need to upgrade their starting rotation after placing in the bottom five in several categories this year.
General manager Perry Minasian acknowledged as much on several occasions this past season and quickly went to work by signing former New York Mets ace Noah Syndergaard to a one-year, $21 million contract.
The Angels made additional moves to bolster their pitching staff before MLB team owners imposed a lockout at the start of December, signing hometown product Michael Lorenzen to a one-year contract, reliever Aaron Loup to a two-year pact and re-signing closer Raisel Iglesias to a four-year deal.
L.A. also added to their versatility by acquiring speedster Tyler Wade in a trade with the New York Yankees and claiming his teammate Andrew Velazquez off waivers.
The Angels’ early offseason moves have garnered rave reviews from executives and pundits alike, and ESPN’s Bradford Doolittle ranked them the fourth-most improved team thus far:
Midterm grade: B+
Beginning pennants: 238 | Current pennants: 350
Change: 112 | Wins baseline: 84.3
What’s changed: Angels have added to their pitching staff, signing starters Noah Syndergaard and Michael Lorenzen, along with relievers Aaron Loup and Raisel Iglesias. Iglesias, of course, was one of the Angels’ own free agents but his return is huge as he was easily the top reliever on the market.
What’s left to do: Add more pitching. More than they think they need. The Angels have made strides but that wins baseline is still middling.
While the Angels’ early activity in free agency undoubtedly makes them better going forward, there is still plenty of work to be done. As Doolittle suggested, the team must continue reinforcing its pitching staff, and that could come in the form of a trade for Cincinnati Reds ace Luis Castillo.
The teams reportedly had preliminary discussions about a deal for the right-hander last month, and while nothing came to fruition, those talks presumably could be revisited when the lockout ends.
Angels were closer to signing Max Scherzer than Dodgers
Even after signing the likes of Syndergaard and Lorenzen, the Angels explored the possibility of adding other top-shelf starter such as Kevin Gausman or Robbie Ray.
L.A. also made a strong effort to lure Max Scherzer away from the Dodgers before he inked a record-setting three-year contract with the New York Mets, and reportedly came closer to signing the right-hander than their crosstown rival.