Angels ‘Unlikely’ To Be Active In Top Free Agent Shortstop Market
MLB: Minnesota Twins at Detroit Tigers
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Angels general manager Perry Minasian has been incredibly active in the early stages of the offseason, and with his most recent move, he dealt for an established Major League outfielder in Hunter Renfroe. But shortstop remains a glaring hole for the Angels, a need that isn’t expected to be filled by another top free-agent target.

Infielder Gio Urshela was brought over from the Minnesota Twins last week in exchange for Single-A pitcher Alejandro Hidalgo, and as it stands the infield is slated to have Anthony Rendon at the hot corner, David Fletcher at shortstop, Luis Rengifo at second base. Urshela slots in at first base, but that isn’t the ideal scenario for the Angels as they work to strengthen their roster.

The Angels estimated payroll after arbitration agreements per Spotrac sits at around $206 million and considering the potential change in ownership, they might want to stay under the luxury tax threshold of $233 million for 2023. Because of their pressed situation with the competitive balance tax, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic doesn’t believe the Angels will be big players in the premier shortstop market:

The Angels still need a shortstop, and even with Moreno back in spending mode, it seems unlikely they will play on one of the Big Four — Trea Turner, Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts, Dansby Swanson. Could they trade for the White Sox’s Tim Anderson? The Guardians’ Amed Rosario? The Yankees’Isiah Kiner-Falefa? Rosario and Kiner-Falefa, like Urshela and Renfroe, are entering their walk years. Anderson is under club control with a club option for 2024.

Because it’s unlikely they tack on a $30+ million contract, their best option would be to dip into their already barren minor league pool and make an attempt for a stopgap option via trade as Rosenthal suggested. Anderson is certainly the most intriguing option because he would address needs in two areas; defense and a sustained high-average bat.

Anderson had a bit of a down year in 2022 after he missed time with a torn ligament in his hand, which most likely accounted for some of his offensive and defensive inconsistencies, but outside of this past season, he’s been in the mix as a top fielding shortstop.

The two-time All-Star will turn 30 in June of 2023 and should be a target for Minasian and the Angels’ front office if they’re set on solidifying the core spots of their roster. They only have $109 million allocated for 2024 and could easily extend Anderson and that would immediately offset the prospect cost required to get the Chicago White Sox to part ways with him.

Angels eyed Mitch Haniger before trading for Hunter Renfroe

Minasian expressed his optimism and direction for bolstering the depth of the roster and in the latest report, the Angels appear to have inquired about free-agent outfielder, Mitch Haniger.

With Mike Trout, Taylor Ward, and newly-acquired Renfroe making up what appears to be the Opening Day outfield, Minasian may currently only be in the market for organizational depth, or a quality fourth bat if Jo Adell and Mickey Moniak wind up on the trade block.

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