Ask anyone with a working knowledge of baseball, and they’ll tell you that the Los Angeles Angels need pitching. It’s been that way for several years, but it’s arguable that the 2022 team is the closest they’ve been to having a strong pitching core in nearly a decade.
The Angels have bolstered their bullpen with the additions of Raisel Iglesias, Aaron Loup, Ryan Tepera, and Archie Bradley. They took risks on Noah Syndergaard and Michael Lorenzen in the starting rotation. So while they’ve done plenty of work to improve their situation, more could still be done.
However, the Halos were reportedly in the market for some right-handed hitters before signing Tepera to a two-year, $14 million deal. They inquired about some interesting names before ultimately deciding to spend on another bullpen arm, a move that has since shifted their focus, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic:
Before signing free-agent reliever Ryan Tepera, Angels inquired about several RHHs, sources tell @TheAthletic. List included Luke Voit, J.D. Davis, Trey Mancini. After signing Tepera for 2/14, team reluctant to boost payroll further except for SP. Wants to retain $$$ flexibility.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 23, 2022
While it would have been nice to add another bat to a lineup that already figures to be one of the best in baseball, it’s unclear why those specific players were reportedly targeted. Voit, Davis, and Mancini are all corner infielders or designated hitters, positions the Angels have All-Stars at in Jared Walsh, Anthony Rendon, and Shohei Ohtani.
Based on the wording of Rosenthal’s report and the contract that was eventually given to Tepera, Angels owner Arte Moreno likely allocated just under $10 million for players other than starting pitchers. Mancini, Voit, and Davis all are slated to make under $8 million in 2022.
But now that that money has been spent on Tepera, Moreno likely doesn’t want to add any more salary to the books, unless it’s a starting pitcher. For some, this is music to their ears. Cutting off spending for position players and the bullpen shows a recognition of where the team’s strengths and weaknesses lie.
Now, the question becomes, which starting pitchers will the Angels pursue and will they have a chance to land them. There have already been reports of the Halos’ interest in Oakland Athletics’ pitchers Sean Manaea and Frankie Montas. However, it’s unlikely they are traded within the division.
Meanwhile, the free agent market for starting pitchers is essentially dead, as Johnny Cueto and Chris Archer appear to be among the best options still available.
“Shohei Ohtani rule” added to CBA
For the lifetime of the new CBA, one rule — added earlier this week — is being dubbed the “Shohei Ohtani rule.” The rule states that if a designated hitter starts the game as a pitcher, they can remain at the designated hitter position even if they are removed from the game as a pitcher.
MLB and the union believe this rule will encourage more two-way players like Ohtani, and they’re most likely correct. However, for at least the next couple seasons, this rule strictly benefits Ohtani and the Angels.