The Press Gang Forecast the 26-Man Angels Opening Day Roster
Junior Guerra
For what it’s worth, scribes BJ Martin (Angels Nation) and Jeff Fletcher (OC Register) agree that veteran swingman Junior Guerra will make the Angels’ 26-man rotation. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

by Angels Nation staff | and guest contributors:

Angels players, coaches and trainers are hard at work. They’re gearing up for the 2021 season in Tempe, Ariz. — and from the “pressbox” (or Zoom Conference Box, thanks to a worldwide pandemic), we media folks are doing our usual guessing games.

We’re all guilty. So are all the fans.

Those of us in the news biz who like to rattle our Magic 8-Balls, we’re busy playing amateur GM and constructing our 2021 rosters … way ahead of time.

Nobody knows for sure which 26 names will break camp with the Angels from Tempe in late March for the Freeway Series against the Dodgers.

One of them might even be unlikely southpaw Packy Naughton, whose incredible name, in an “ideal world,” should get him to the big leagues alone.

First-year general manager Perry Minasian’s cellphones keep ringing, and owner Arte Moreno always has a say-so.

By tomorrow, the best starting pitcher left on the free-agent market, Jake Odorizzi, might be an Angel.

Relief pitchers Shane Greene or David “D-Rob” Robertson would be upgrades for a team that has signed nothing but reserve infielders outfielders for weeks. The Angels are perpetually “linked” to more high-profile on Twitter.

So, let’s bet on it! Let’s write it all down for posterity, and see how it plays out on Opening Day, let’s keep count and buy a beer, a taco, or a rally monkey for the best guesser.

We’ve assembled a collection of Angels’ Opening Day rosters from the Angels Nation staff, and other media and blogging folks who’ve been brave enough to stand in Maddon’s perch for one day in February for a way-too-early look at the roster:

BJ MARTIN, staff writer, Angels Nation:
Lineup (9):
David Fletcher 2b
Mike Trout cf
Anthony Rendon 3b
Shohei Ohtani dh
Justin Upton lf
Jared Walsh 1b
Dexter Fowler rf
Max Stassi c
Jose Iglesias ss
Bench (5):
Kurt Suzuki c
Albert Pujols 1b/dh
Luis Rengifo 2b/ss/3b
Taylor Ward of/3b/c
Jon Jay of
Rotation (6):
Shohei Ohtani rhp
Dylan Bundy rhp
Griffin Canning rhp
Jose Quintana lhp
Andrew Heaney lhp
Alex Cobb rhp
Bullpen (7):
Raisel Iglesias rhp
Mike Mayers rhp
Felix Pena rhp
Alex Claudio lhp
Ty Buttrey rhp
Junior Guerra rhp
Jaime Barria rhp

BJ SAYS: Strong chance pitchers Aaron Slegers, Patrick Sandoval, Jake Faria, or Jake Reed find a way onto roster at some point as the inevitable injuries will arise. Remember, the Opening Day roster is not the team that’s on the field for Game 7 of the World Series.

The Angels are in a good starting position for the season and will be buyers at the trade deadline if they need to bolster their staff.

Rather than signing a Odorizzi now, I think that Minasian waits to acquire a starter at deadline. Somebody in the NL East will be looking to trade starting pitchers. Scherzer, Strasburg, Corbin, Stroman, Syndergaard, Wheeler, Nola, Morton, or perhaps even Odorizzi. One or more of these pitcher’s current employers could be selling at the deadline.

Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh lead the hitters at Salt Lake that could be ready to contribute down the stretch. Pitchers Reid Detmers, Chris Rodriguez, Packy Naughton, Aaron Hernandez, and Hector Yan will certainly be evaluated this summer to determine if they could provide added weapons to pitching staff.

Jack Mayfield
Shortstop Jack Mayfield has a real shot to add some serious glovework to the Angels’ defense // (USA Today pool photo)

STU MATTHEWS, managing editor, Angels Nation:
Lineup (9):
David Fletcher 2b
Mike Trout cf
Anthony Rendon 3b
Shohei Ohtani dh
Justin Upton lf
Jared Walsh 1b
Max Stassi c
Dexter Fowler rf
Jose Iglesias ss
Bench (3):
Kurt Suzuki c
Albert Pujols 1b/dh
Jack Mayfield inf
Jon Jay of
Rotation (6):
Shohei Ohtani rhp
Dylan Bundy rhp
Griffin Canning rhp
Jose Quintana lhp
Andrew Heaney lhp
Alex Cobb rhp
Bullpen (7):
Raisel Iglesias rhp
Mike Mayers rhp
Jaime Barria rhp
Ty Buttrey rhp
Alex Claudio lhp
Felix Pena, rhp
Aaron Slegers, rhp

STU SAYS: This roster as many rock-solid pieces as it does question marks as we stand before the spring training opener. A big performance by someone in Tempe can change the complexion for sure — it seemed to do so in many Angels’ years past.

Recently, the Halos haven’t found a lot of magical springs in Tempe — last year notwithstanding, which was just weird in general because of Covid.

The team did a great job navigating the hazardous waters of 2020 without any significant Covid casualties — unless you count Andrelton Simmons’ brave revelation of how the pandemic affected his anxiety.

If they keep ticking all the boxes on their Covid protocols in spring, maybe this March we’ll see another spring-training success story emerge — maybe shortstop Jack Mayfield, or a pitcher like Jake Faria. You never know.

But most importantly is to come out of the gates running full speed — a lesson learned the hard way when a sluggish start cost the Angels a spot in the 2020 playoffs. Start hot, stay strong. Finish strong — and the Angels will be a playoff team.

JEFF FLETCHER, Angels beat writer the OC Register (SCNG); chairman of the LA chapter of the BBWAA:
Lineup (10):
David Fletcher 2b
Jared Walsh 1b
Albert Pujols 1b/dh
Mike Trout cf
Anthony Rendon 3b
Shohei Ohtani dh
Justin Upton lf
Dexter Fowler rf
Max Stassi c
Jose Iglesias ss
Bench (3):
Jon Jay of
Kurt Suzuki c
Luis Rengifo inf
Rotation (6), no particular order:
Andrew Heaney lhp
Dylan Bundy rhp
Griffin Canning rhp
Jose Quintana lhp
Alex Cobb rhp
Shohei Ohtani rhp
Bullpen (8):
Raisel Iglesias rhp
Alex Claudio lhp
Ty Buttrey rhp
Felix Pena rhp
Mike Mayers rhp
Junior Guerra rhp
Jamie Barria rhp
Jesse Chavez rhp

JEFF SAYS: I didn’t put a lot of thought into it, but here you go. … Last year was so different, so a slow start hurt the Angels. This year, in a 162-game season, a fast start isn’t any more important than any other 162-game season. … I’ve got Rengifo as the backup, and I’m also adding Chavez instead of Slegers to the bullpen.

— RHETT BOLLINGER, Angels beat writer for MLB.com and angels.com:
Lineup (10):
David Fletcher 2b
Jared Walsh 1b
Albert Pujols 1b/dh
Mike Trout cf
Anthony Rendon 3b
Shohei Ohtani dh
Justin Upton lf
Dexter Fowler rf
Max Stassi c
Jose Iglesias ss
Bench (3):

Kurt Suzuki c
Albert Pujols dh
Taylor Ward of
Rotation (6), no particular order:
Andrew Heaney lhp
Dylan Bundy rhp
Griffin Canning rhp
Jose Quintana lhp
Alex Cobb rhp
Shohei Ohtani rhp
Bullpen (8):
Raisel Iglesias rhp
Alex Claudio lhp
Ty Buttrey rhp
Felix Pena rhp
Mike Mayers rhp
Junior Guerra rhp
Jamie Barria rhp
Jose Alberto Rivera rhp

RHETT SAYS: Mike Trout reiterated how much he wants to make the postseason again and is tired about talking about it. He knows the only way that stops is for the Angels to make the playoffs for the first time since 2014.

— BRENT MAGUIRE, writer at Crashing the Pearly Gates and fast-talking host of the Locked On Angels podcast:
Lineup (9):
David Fletcher 2b
Jared Walsh 1b
Mike Trout cf
Anthony Rendon 3b
Shohei Ohtani dh
Justin Upton lf
Dexter Fowler rf
Max Stassi c
Jose Iglesias ss
Bench (5):
Albert Pujols 1b/dh
Kurt Suzuki c
Luis Rengifo inf
Taylor Ward of/c
Juan Lagares of
Rotation (6):
Dylan Bundy rhp
Andrew Heaney lhp
Jose Quintana lhp
Griffin Canning rhp
Alex Cobb rhp
Shohei Ohtani rhp
Bullpen (7):
Raisel Iglesias rhp
Mike Mayers rhp
Felix Pena rhp
Ty Buttrey rhp
Alex Claudio lhp
Aaron Slegers rhp
Jaime Barria rhp (out of options — AAA)
Salt Lake:
Patrick Sandoval (options), Jose Suarez, Luke Bard, Gerardo Reyes, Jake Faria, Junior Guerra, Jose Quijada, Jose Alberto Rivera (offered back to Houston Astros), Anthony Bemboom, Juan Graterol, Scott Schebler, Matt Thaiss, Robel Garcia, Jon Jay, Packy Naughton, Reid Detmers, Chris Rodriguez.

BRENT SAYS: I’m not just underwhelmed, but maybe a bit scared. I wish I had a better, more positive outlook on the rotation but they’ve burned me too many times. I feel very good about the position players, I feel less so about the pitching staff. The Angels are a little short on late-inning arms, and the market has become depleted lately.

Not just underwhelmed, but maybe a bit scared.

Most clubs will need to use 10 to 12 starting pitchers this season. That means guys like Suarez and Naughton will almost certainly see MLB action, which could bode trouble for the club. *(Editor’s note: Brent’s comments were parsed from his recent Locked On Angels podcast).

— FABIAN ARDAYA Angels beat writer, The Athletic:
Lineup:

Jose Iglesias ss
David Fletcher 2b
Mike Trout cf
Anthony Rendon 3b
Shohei Ohtani dh
Justin Upton lf
Jared Walsh 1b
Max Stassi c
Dexter Fowler rf
Bench:
Kurt Suzuki c
(Hasn’t committed)
Rotation (“fairly straightforward” (6):
Dylan Bundy rhp
Andrew Heaney lhp
Griffin Canning rhp
Jose Quintana lhp
Alex Cobb rhp
Shohei Ohtani rhp
Bullpen (7):
Raisel Iglesias rhp
Mike Mayers rhp
Felix Pena rhp
Ty Buttrey rhp
Alex Claudio lhp
Aaron Slegers rhp
Jaime Barria rhp (out of options)

FABIAN SAYS: In all seriousness, the Angels have been in touch with Odorizzi throughout the winter and into the spring. There are other teams in the mix, Ultimately is going to come down to price. He probably will get a multi-year deal, which the Angels could use. … The rotation looks fairly straightforward as it stands. *(Editor’s note: Fabian’s comments were parsed from his recent live chat on The Athletic).

For what it’s worth, Aaron Slegers looks ready to show … something!

— And, here are some positive and negative reviews from around the Angels blogs:

— CHUCK RICHTER, editor, Angelswin.com: There’s a ton of money coming off the books after this season. I’m guessing we’re going to be buyers and sellers at the trade deadline whether we’re winning or losing, and we’ll be heavily engaged in free-agent activity for starting pitching following the 2021 campaign.

— JESSICA DeLINE, editor, Crashing the Pearly Gates.com: The Angels didn’t really move the needle at all from last season — and last season, they weren’t that good of a team.

The bullpen overall is gonna be better, the pitching is where you really need to be to be a playoff-bound team. It was just a very dull off-season.

— RAHUL SETTY, editor, Crashing The Pearly Gates.com: The whole point of having an off-season is so that you can address all the weaknesses of a team, and have a holistic, well-rounded team going into next year.

The Angels did not really do that.

They needed to address the rotation in a major way — and they got Jose Quintana, which was a good first move, but they ended up acquiring Alex Cobb, seemingly just because he was cheap, which is not the right reason to go ahead and pick someone up.

The direction the Angels is doubling-down on not having a holistic team and having a lot of weaknesses on the roster.

So … did that make things clearer? Probably not … but we can see a direction toward depth. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Find and follow Angels writers around Twitter!:
BJ Martin: @_HaloLife
Stu Matthews: @AngelsNation5 or @StuMatthews4
Brent Maguire: @bmags94
Fabian Ardaya: @FabianArdaya
Chuck Richter: @ChuckRichter70
Jessica DeLine: @abaseballchick
Rahul Setty: @RahulSetty_

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