With so much time left until the true beginning of MLB free agency and the offseason, not even the Los Angeles Angels know exactly how much they’ll be willing to spend. What we do know is that however much they do decide to spend, a large chunk of that money will go towards pitching.
However, the Angels still have some needs within their position players. Yes, their outfield appears set with a four-man crew of Mike Trout, Brandon Marsh, Jo Adell, and Justin Upton, but that could change if the right players become available.
They are definitely set at the corner infield spots with Jared Walsh and Anthony Rendon. However, their middle infield — and a backup catcher — remain holes that must be filled. Angels general manager Perry Minasian has hinted they may look internally to fill these roles, but having more money than expected might change that equation.
So here, we’re going to take a look at three potential position players that won’t break the bank, as well as three players it’s going to take a larger contract offer to attain. Keep in mind, we are looking at free agents only, not trade targets.
No. 3 Cheaper Player: Stephen Vogt, Atlanta Braves
If the Angels want to follow the Max Stassi and Kurt Suzuki model from 2021, Stephen Vogt might be the way to go if he’s considering another year in the big leagues. Currently playing for the NLCS-bound Atlanta Braves, Vogt has not had a hugely productive 2021.
His .616 OPS and 64 wRC+ is nothing to write home about. However, he’s just two years removed from a great 2019 season, and would easily be available on the cheap to back up Stassi. It’s not a massively important role, but Suzuki ended up playing 72 games in 2021.
No. 3 Expensive Player: Chris Taylor, L.A. Dodgers
Struggles in August and September have potentially lowered Chris Taylor’s value in free agency. However, a walk-off home run in the NL Wild Card Game and a solid NLDS — and potentially more — may bring his contract value back up.
Taylor’s No. 1 asset is versatility. While bringing you a strong and disciplined bat, Taylor is a true super utility player capable of playing nearly every position on the field. Yes, he would play second base or shortstop most of the time, but if Walsh, Rendon, Trout, Adell, or Marsh need a day off, he’s capable of doing that as well.
No. 2 Cheaper Player: Jed Lowrie, Oakland Athletics
If the Angels do plan on platooning David Fletcher and Luis Rengifo as their middle infielders, Jed Lowrie would be the right player to join that mix. Despite 2022 being his age-38 season, Lowrie was productive in 2021 with the Athletics.
He held a .717 OPS and had an exact league average wRC+ of 100. For a cheap contract, there’s not much more you can ask for than league average. It would also give the Angels all the flexibility they need to pursue pitching. He was not a great fielder in 2021, with a -11 defensive runs saved, but there are reasons to believe he can fit in Anaheim.
No. 2 Expensive Player: Corey Seager, L.A. Dodgers
Staying with the Dodgers, the Angels could target both Taylor and Corey Seager to join them in 2022. Seager is a true star in the making. At 27, he already has an NLCS and World Series MVP under his belt, and he’s a fully healthy season away from potentially contending for an MVP award.
His bat is incredible and his defense has shown signs of improvement over the past few years. He won’t come cheap, but if the Angels find themselves with some serious money to spend, he may be a player worth bringing on, provided they went after pitching first.
No. 1 Cheaper Player: Donovan Solano, San Francisco Giants
The Angels could officially move Fletcher to their full-time shortstop position while bringing on Solano as a stopgap second baseman. Solano is an above average contact hitter who had a .344 OBP with the Giants and a 105 wRC+.
Defensively, Solano does leave something to be desired. However, he is capable of making big defensive plays that can carry the risk of errors. If the Angels decide to go the cheap route with their middle infield, this might be the best case scenario outside of finding a gem within their own organization.
No. 1 Expensive Player: Carlos Correa, Houston Astros
There’s not much to not like about Carlos Correa as a baseball player. He has had an OPS above .800 for five of his six full MLB season, he hits over 20 home runs with regularity, and he just recently turned 27. He is also a remarkable shortstop, compiling an elite 21 defensive runs saved in 2021.
His only issue is that he’s going to be very expensive to sign. Much like with Seager, if the Angels have already acquired their preferred starting pitchers and find themselves with a huge chunk of money to spend, going after Correa might be a slam dunk move.
It’s unlikely that this pairing happens, but signing the best free agent shortstop in this loaded class while also weakening the Astros is a tempting thought.