The Los Angeles Angels relied heavily on youth for a lot of the 2023 season, and with Zach Neto slotted in as the everyday shortstop, that opens the door for multiple options around the infield.
Neto posted a solid rookie performance, numbers aside, being thrust into a Major League role is a difficult asked after just 11 games between Double-A and Triple-A. But his bat-to-ball skills were performing well-above the mean, prompting the Angels to call him up to provide some stability.
That plan was halted because of lingering issues with his oblique and back that limited him to 84 games. The front office with general manager Perry Minasian is again approaching free agency to build some infield depth, and could do so with a veteran right-handed bat, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today:
The Angels are expressing strong interest in shortstop Tim Anderson, who was cut loose by the White Sox, and could convert him to second base.
Anderson endured an odd 2023, a complete evaporation in the power department, with his only one coming on July 29 against the Cleveland Guardians. That remains an issue for the Angels, considering they stand to lose a lot of thump in their lineup.
But Anderson would be asked to fill a void in consistency, and since 2016, he’s played in the 12th most games between second baseman and shortstops. His 1021 hits in that span ranks as the sixth-most, which considering his recent down year, sheds a positive light on how much of an outlier it was.
His willingness to shift to second base after years at shortstop is a big key, after he made the same shift in the 2023 World Baseball Classic to accommodate Trea Turner at short.
Anderson on a multi-year deal, or even a one-year ‘prove it’ contract, could be exactly what the 30-year-old needs to ignite a spark.
Where else could the Angels add on in free agency?
Aside from Shohei Ohtani, the Angels have a huge chunk of youth at the backend of their starting rotation and in their corner outfield. The loss of Hunter Renfroe opens a slot in right field, that could be filled by Jo Adell, or another open market option.
A bounce back season from left-hander Tyler Anderson is much needed, because of how far he fell off from his 2022 production that earned him a multi-year deal that hasn’t panned out just yet.
Minasian would be wise to stick to one-year deals if they don’t plan on pursuing one of the top-end starting pitchers (Blake Snell, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Aaron Nola, Sonny Gray).
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