Los Angeles Angels (80-82), 2nd in the AL West
Free Agents: 2B Brandon Phillips, 3B Yunel Escobar, RP Yusmeiro Petit, RP Bud Norris, OF Ben Revere, IF Cliff Pennington, SP Jesse Chavez, SP Andrew Bailey, SP Ricky Nolasco, RP Huston Street
The Angels are six weeks removed from a 2017 campaign that saw them fall short of a postseason appearance for the third straight year and post a second consecutive losing season. A couple big reasons for their struggles were because of their offense, which despite having the best player in the game in Mike Trout, was one of their worst in the American League and their pitching staff was hit hard with injuries.
Angels general manager Billy Eppler and company began the process of shoring up the offense by signing outfielder Justin Upton to a five-year, $106 million extension. Upton, who the Angels acquired from the Tigers at the end of the waiver deadline in August, was one of the few players who hit for the team during their September slump in which they went 10-17.
However, the offense still has some holes to fill at second base an third base plus may look to upgrade their pitching staff and first base.
The second base situation is up in the air because Phillips is a free agent after the Halos acquired him from the Braves at the end of the waiver deadline because they had released Danny Espinosa and Kaleb Cowart fell into a big slump at the dish. According to Maria Guardado of MLB.com, Phillips is still a possible fit, along with fellow free agents Neil Walker.
At the hot corner, the Angels are losing one of their most consistent hitters and primary leadoff man in Escobar. The Angels can look to Coward (depending on what they do at second base), Luis Valbuena and Jefry Marte as options to take Escobar’s place, but they might be better served to go out and grab someone on the open market. The Halos may try to go after Mike Moustakas, Todd Frazier, Eduardo Nunez or shortstop Zack Cozart, according to Guardado.
As far as pitching goes, the Angels have to be concerned about the future of their starters. Though Garrett Richards, Andrew Heaney, Tyler Skaggs, Matt Shoemaker, JC Ramirez, Nick Tropeano and Parker Bridwell are expected to be healthy, Richards, Skaggs, Shoemaker and Ramirez all had serious injuries in 2017. In addition, they declined an option on Nolasco, who led the team in innings pitched last year. Guardado said the Angels could try to “target” Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb in free agency.
In regards to first base, the Angels did not receive a lot of production. Outside of a team-high 88 RBI, Angels first basemen were at the bottom of most team statistical categories. And with 37-year-old Albert Pujols virtually taking up the DH spot in the lineup, the Angels would like to enhance that position if possible. Guardado even mentioned that they could try to sign Eric Hosmer or Yonder Alonso to fill the need.