There remains an eternity between now and the start of the 2023 MLB season. But for the Los Angeles Angels — who missed the playoffs for the eighth consecutive season — there’s nothing but time to figure out a plan. All the while, eight teams are still fighting for a World Series championship.
Between free agency, trades, and Minor League promotions, the Angels will have several means of improving a roster that finished 73-89 in 2022 despite elite play from Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, as well as a top-10 pitching staff.
But before any of that takes place, the Angels can look at their 2022 roster, as well as their top Minor Leaguers, to try and put together a “first draft” of their 2023 26-man roster.
That’s what we’ll attempt to do here, as we give a way-too-early projection of what the 26-man roster might look like on Opening Day without any free agency or trade additions. They’ll be listed in positional order, with a small breakdown to follow.
1B Jared Walsh
2B David Fletcher
SS Luis Rengifo
3B Anthony Rendon
INF Livan Soto
Barring any major trades or signings, Walsh, Fletcher, and Rendon were always going to be guaranteed spots on the 26-man roster. Prior to 2022, Rengifo had no such assurances. However, with a breakout campaign that saw him post a 103 wRC+, he may have earned himself that safety.
The utility role is a complete wild card. In 2022, Andrew Velazquez, Tyler Wade, and Matt Duffy all had tries at it, while Soto ended the season in the role. Soto was so incredible in his short September stint, that it stands to reason he would get another chance to begin 2023.
Soto had a .996 OPS and a 181 wRC+ in 59 plate appearances after a surprise call-up.
CF Mike Trout
RF Taylor Ward
OF Jo Adell
OF Mickey Moniak
This offensive unit is perhaps the one that could be most affected by offseason moves. But for now, it’s both Adell and Moniak making the Opening Day roster, either platooning in left field or fighting for a starting role.
Trout and Ward are complete locks, as Trout is one of the game’s best players and Ward is coming off of his best season as a pro, posting an .833 OPS with a 137 wRC+. It may behoove the Angels to go out and land a more reliable option in left field, unless they really like Moniak and Adell competing.
C Max Stassi
C Matt Thaiss
C Logan O’Hoppe
With Kurt Suzuki entering retirement, the back-up catcher role is open behind Stassi. Now, Stassi didn’t necessarily earn his starting role with a great performance in 2022 — he batted just .180 with a 63 wRC+ — but he is under contract for two more seasons, and the Angels firmly believe he’ll bounce back.
So, for the time being, he’ll likely be the Opening Day starter. But instead of trying to decide between Thaiss and O’Hoppe for the back-up role, it’s possible they just carry both on the roster. Both are unproven at the MLB level, but O’Hoppe is one of baseball’s top catching prospects, and Thaiss provides versatility as a first baseman.
If O’Hoppe proves himself to be as elite as he was in the Minors, he may quickly take over the starting role, and the Angels may go elsewhere for a roster spot instead of Thaiss.
SP/DH Shohei Ohtani
Barring an unforeseen trade, it is believed that the Angels will retain Ohtani after another historic campaign. After becoming the first player in MLB history to qualify as both a pitcher and hitter, there’s no doubt that he’s essential to every bit of success the Angels can accrue.
SP Patrick Sandoval
SP Jose Suarez
SP Reid Detmers
SP Tucker Davidson
SP Chase Silseth
Like the outfielders, it’s hard to imagine the Angels not making at least one offseason move to bolster this unit. Only Sandoval, Suarez, and Detmers feel like locks behind Ohtani in the starting rotation. The final two spots — or potentially one spot — are fully up for grabs.
Perhaps the Angels could trade for a young starter, or sign a more steady veteran. Davidson and Silseth are the best options at the moment, but there’s no guaranteeing it stays that way. Between the two, Silseth has arguably shown more potential, but Davidson was the headlining acquisition in the Raisel Iglesias trade.
RP Jimmy Herget
RP Ryan Tepera
RP Aaron Loup
RP Jaime Barria
RP Jose Quijada
RP Andrew Wantz
RP Austin Warren
RP Elvis Peguero
The front end of this bullpen is strong. Despite down years from Loup and Tepera, it’s not difficult to see them bouncing back to the elite relievers they both were in 2021. Herget proved himself to be a bonafide star in whatever role the Angels asked him to be.
Barria, Quijada, and Wantz all had career years in 2022, providing solid depth for an Angels bullpen that desperately needed it after trading away Iglesias to the Atlanta Braves.
The final 2-3 spots leave much to be desired if the Angels want to fill from within. There aren’t a ton of reliable options, or even ones that have flashed anything of note.