The Los Angeles Angels will not be playing any more games in 2021, meaning the focus is shifting to general manager Perry Minasian. In perhaps one of the most crucial offseasons in recent memory, the Angels have to figure out a way to go from a “next year” team to a “this year” team.
For years, it has been the same issue plaguing L.A.: pitching. Once again, the Angels ranked towards the bottom of the league in ERA and most pitching stats, dragging down an offense that — at full strength — could easily be described as elite.
It’s not the first time this sentiment has been expressed by the organization, but Minasian is making it the team’s top priority to finally bring in legitimate pitching upgrades, according to Jeff Fletcher of The O.C. Register:
“We understand that the mound is a place where we’d like to significantly improve,” Minasian said. “Not just improve, but significantly improve.”
Minasian continued, stating the difficulties of landing multiple top-level starters, but also ensuring that it won’t deter him from trying anyways.
“Would you like to add frontline starters? Absolutely,” Minasian said. “I’d love to add three, four frontline starters, that would be outstanding. Realistically, that’s really difficult to do.”
“Two is difficult too. One is difficult. I think if you asked all 30 teams, every single person in my position would say ‘Yeah, I’d love to find a frontline starter, whether that’s trade or free agency.’ That’s something that’s easier said than done.”
Minasian also stated that just three pitchers have already earned a starting rotation spot in 2022. Shohei Ohtani, Patrick Sandoval, and Jose Suarez will all most likely be in the rotation to begin next year, which is not a surprise given the season that all three had.
This means that the Angels need 2-3 more starters to fill the remainder of the spots. To feel really good about the pitching heading into 2022, it’s fair to say that two of the three need to be frontline guys, while the third can be more of a stopgap option.
So who can the Angels target? Kevin Gausman, Robbie Ray, Carlos Rodon, Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Marcus Stroman, and Jon Gray are all solid options.
Hypothetically, the Angels would feel significantly better about their chances if they signed Gausman and Ray, then re-signed Alex Cobb to fill the sixth starter role. Obviously this is tough to do, but it does give a sense of what the Angels need to do this to feel good about 2022.
Shohei Ohtani open to contract extension with Angels
Beyond signing external free agents or making trades, the Angels have plenty to figure out in-house. Arbitrations, impending free agents, and extensions will all be topics of conversation, and none perhaps bigger than Shohei Ohtani.
Coming off of one of the greatest individual seasons in MLB history, Ohtani made it clear that he is open to signing a long-term deal to stay in Anaheim, even as he sits with two years left until free agency.