Since the beginning of the offseason in early October, it’s been assumed that the Los Angeles Angels will allocate most of their financial resources towards pitching. There has been a clear need at the position for years, and Albert Pujols’ contract coming off the books finally gives them some flexibility.
Because of that, the prevailing thought is that they will go into 2022 with Brandon Marsh and Jo Adell in the outfield. Having two young, cheap, team-controlled players as everyday starters would be huge for the Angels, but Perry Minasian and company need to feel confident that those two can play every day.
So what do the Angels do if the organization ultimately decides that one — or both — of them are not ready to play every day for a contending team? Here, we’ll attempt to answer that question.
We’ll look at five potential free agent outfielders — both cheap and expensive — the Angels could bring in alongside Mike Trout and Justin Upton this season.
No. 5: RF Nick Castellanos
Castellanos projects to be one of the best outfielders on the market this offseason. He is coming off an All-Star season in which he slashed .309/.362/.576 and was one of the best hitters in all of baseball. Defensively, he is not very good, but it’s easier to get away with defensive issues in right field than almost anywhere else.
The reason Castellanos is fifth is that he will likely be the most expensive outfielder. If the Angels do decide to spend big on a position player, it makes more sense that it would be for a shortstop, not a right fielder. However, he would certainly improve the offensive ceiling of a team that already projects to be dangerous at the plate in 2022.
No. 4: LF Eddie Rosario
If you haven’t heard about Eddie Rosario, it’s likely because you haven’t been watching the postseason. Rosario has been by far the Atlanta Braves’ best player and is one of the biggest reasons why they made it to the World Series.
The reason Rosario is not higher on this list is because his numbers since joining the Braves at the trade deadline are almost certainly unsustainable. His OPS in 33 regular season games with Atlanta in .903, but he had never put up an OPS higher than .836 in his seven-year career.
His playoff dominance will likely inflate his value beyond reason. However, if they can get him for cheap, it may be worth the gamble.
No.3: LF Kyle Schwarber
Schwarber was traded to the Boston Red Sox as part of the Chicago Cubs fire sale at the trade deadline. There, he was an impactful bat with a .957 OPS. Like Castellanos, the defense leaves something to be desired, but Schwarber can always be shifted to right field if need be.
At just 28 years old, Schwarber is in the middle of his prime, also making him a more expensive target. But again, he would provide another elite bat in the lineup to make things even more dangerous at the plate in Anaheim.
No. 2: CF Starling Marte
Marte was dealt from the Miami Marlins to the Oakland Athletics at the trade deadline, and he didn’t miss a beat. His 47 stolen bases and his .381 OBP in 2021 make him a perfect solution to the Angels’ leadoff batter conundrum. Meanwhile, he is by far the best defender that will be on this list.
If the Angels are legitimately considering moving Trout away from center field to preserve his long-term health, Marte would be the perfect player to bring in. At age 33, he may not be in line for a massive pay day, but he still won’t come cheap.
No. 1: OF Joc Pederson
The Angels nearly traded Luis Rengifo for Joc Pederson and Riss Stripling two years ago, and it’s unlikely that they lost their positive view of Pederson as a player. The current Braves and former L.A. Dodgers outfielder is known for his playoff heroics, but he is still a solid player in the regular season.
He’s had an OPS of over .800 in three of his six full MLB seasons, and could provide a good back-of-the-order bat for the Angels. The reason he ranks No. 1 is because he could come at the most reasonable cost.
Marsh and Adell
At the end of the day, the hope is that Marsh and Adell are trusted enough within the organization to play every day alongside Trout with Upton platooning in at various positions. However, if they’re not, there are several good options for the Angels to go with.