This has been the case for several years now, but the Los Angeles Angels won’t be able to consider the 2021-22 offseason successful unless they acquire high-caliber starting pitching. These efforts have failed in recent winters, but this offseason provides a host of high quality names to pick from.
The Angels have already been connected to two names on the market. One is the AL Cy Young favorite Robbie Ray from the Toronto Blue Jays. The other is the trusty and reliable, although unexciting, Eduardo Rodriguez of the Boston Red Sox.
With so many available starting pitchers, it was never going to be just two players with rumored ties to the Angels. Now, more names are being connected to Anaheim, including the 2019 Cy Young winner currently coming off Tommy John surgery, Justin Verlander, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic:
Angels GM Perry Minasian is open about his desire to add not just quality starting pitchers, but also those who are aggressive and set a tone for the rest of the staff, explaining, “We’re lacking in that area.”
Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander are the most obvious free agents who fit that description, but the Angels see at least four others as potential fits, according to major-league sources — Robbie Ray, Marcus Stroman, Noah Syndergaard and Alex Wood. Minasian overlapped with both Stroman and Syndergaard during his time in the Blue Jays’ front office.
In this, six names — not including Rodriguez — are mentioned to be on the Angels’ radar. Joe Maddon and Perry Minasian have made it clear that their main goal was to sign two frontline starters. Essentially any combination of these six names would qualify in that category.
Alex Wood is perhaps the only listed player that isn’t a “frontline” starter. However, he was solid in 26 starts for the San Francisco Giants in 2021, and has a long history with Southern California as a member for the L.A. Dodgers from 2015-20.
This is now the second time that Ray has been tied to the Angels. Usually, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. However, it remains to be seen if Ray has the same interest. The Blue Jays are a team with a massively bright future and money to play with. Ray sticking around would absolutely make sense for both sides.
But if the Angels can poach Ray from Toronto, he would instantly become one of the best starting pitchers the Angels have had in the Mike Trout era. Yes, Ray doesn’t have a history of elite play, but he’s pitched in at least 123 innings every year of his career with the exception of the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and his rookie year in 2014.
Meanwhile, Verlander and Noah Syndergaard would be fascinating fits. Absolutely no one can deny their remarkable talents, but injuries kept Verlander out of the entire 2021 season and limited Syndergaard to just 2.0 innings since 2019. If the Angels can get them on somewhat of a discount, either of them could be worth the risk.
Marcus Stroman would be another great option. Stroman is coming off the best year of his career, but his body of work would show that it’s not unsustainable. The New York Mets starter sat out the 2020 season due to COVID concerns, but has pitched in at least 100 innings in every year of his career except 2015. He’s pitched over 170 innings in four of seven seasons.
Finally, there’s Max Scherzer. At this point, it would be surprising to see Scherzer leave the Dodgers, making him somewhat of a pipe dream for the Angels. However, there’s no way around the fact that he would be an ideal fit in Anaheim. If they can convince him to relocate down the 57 freeway, it would signal a massive win for the Angels.
Angels awaiting Raisel Iglesias’ response
The Angels extended the qualifying offer, a one-year, $18.4 million deal, to Raisel Iglesias on Nov. 7. Once extended, the player has 10 days to either accept or decline. By Nov. 17, the Angels will know how to proceed with the closer position, and how realistic it is that Iglesias is a part of those plans.