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Los Angeles Angels General Manager Perry Minasian (Source: OCRegister.com)
Just like Moreno’s looming financial decision, GM Perry Minasian also faces a series of challenges of his own to answer this offseason.
First on his list is solving the riddle of the starting pitching staff, which has been an elusive target in past seasons. Using every draft pick in the 2021 Rule 4 Draft on pitching was a start, but one that will probably not bring immediate returns. Making an early strike to sign a frontline-capable rotation piece, like Syndergaard on a one-year, $21M deal, is also another good start. Following that up with a back-end rotation piece, like Lorenzen, is a depth move and may be setting the stage to trade one of the many young starters we currently have on our 40-man roster.
Certainly, the Angels are also beginning to see some of the fruit of past drafts start to impact the Major League roster. Names like Chris Rodriguez, Reid Detmers, and Jhonathan Diaz, are all making their presence known, but are still relatively young and inexperienced, despite recent time spent on the 40-man roster (and C-Rod is now out for most of 2022). Additionally, recently acquired names, like Janson Junk and Packy Naughton are also in the mix trying to forge their own path at the Major League level.
What the Halos have aimed for, but failed to acquire, is a controllable, top-of-the-rotation arm. The Angels chased Gerrit Cole in FA, but watched, helplessly, as the New York Yankees snagged him away. Other names have eluded them, too, forcing the Angels to gamble more, signing or trading for arms like Dylan Bundy, Jose Quintana, and Alex Cobb, with mixed, but generally disappointing, results (and even Syndergaard has some health risk attached).
This cannot be the case this offseason and Minasian knows it, which is why he acquired “Thor” and needs to continue to strengthen the front part of the rotation and, fortunately, there are some names in the free agent market that can support that effort. Whether it is an experienced veteran like Max Scherzer (who, as of this writing, has apparently signed with the Mets) or a journeyman starter such as Marcus Stroman in free agency or a guy like Luis Castillo, Shane Bieber, Max Fried, or Pablo Lopez in trade, Minasian needs to announce his presence, as the Angels GM, with authority. Acquiring one or more free agent starters or trade targets, is almost certainly the highest priority on Perry’s to-do list. In fact acquiring two or three arms would be even better, but he will be resource-constrained by Moreno’s looming payroll decision.
Beyond the rotation, the Halos have a clear need at shortstop. The free agent market is brimming with options, but all of those names will cost just as much as a starter and, barring a wild increase in payroll, the front office will have to prioritize needs and make tough decisions and David Fletcher, Luis Rengifo, or another internal option are either contractually-controlled (Fletch) or making League minimum (Luis) salary, so the Angels might “scrimp”, here, as Mike DiGiovanna recently reported.
Another hole is a backstop to play behind the excellent Max Stassi. This is almost certainly a lower priority than finding a starter or shortstop, so, although they need to fill the spot, the Halos will probably punt here, and find an internal or low-cost solution, in free agency or trade, for next year.
Finally, the possible loss of Raisel Iglesias from the roster may force Minasian to search for additional bullpen arms prior to 2022 Opening Day. Picking up a high-quality back-end bullpen piece, like Loup, was a solid strike, but the relief corps still feels unfinished.
Notably the Angels did, rightfully, make a Qualifying Offer (QO) to Raisel, which he rejected, resulting in a 2022 compensation pick, partially making up for the loss of their 2nd Round pick due to the Syndergaard signing. Additionally, they can still re-sign Iglesias, but the price may be too much, based on the available payroll number provided by Arte. Arguably, if the Halos do re-sign Iglesias, the bullpen becomes a big plus for the 2022 season, based on the projected relief lineup.
If the Halos do not re-sign Raisel, replacing him will be very difficult, but with the addition of the veteran Loup, the Angels do have a base of young relievers to draw upon and if they can find an additional bargain-bin guy in FA or as a finishing piece in a trade, that is probably the tact they will take to rebuilding their relief corps this offseason, unless Moreno monetarily intercedes. Like backup catcher, the bullpen is a lower priority in comparison to obtaining viable rotation pieces, so unless they retain Raisel, expect a lower allotment of resources to this issue and a greater reliance on the emerging arms from our farm system.
So to recap, GM Perry Minasian and the Angels front office will need to address, at the minimum, the following holes in the roster:
There is a lot of work needed to help shape the 2022 Los Angeles Angels roster. GM Perry Minasian and the front office will need to balance the use of veteran and prospect talent to find the right mix of experience and production. Upgrading the roster will not be easy, but it is necessary for a team that has been looking through an open window of contention and has yet to truly step through it. The Syndergaard, Lorenzen, and Loup signings are good first steps, but the offseason is not complete, by any means.
Particularly, the free agent market will be difficult this season because a large number of teams have significant amounts of payroll to spend, increasing competition for the top-tier players. This will bleed over to the trade market, as well, where it would not be surprising to see one or more brand name players, with high-salary, near-term expiring contracts (think 1-3 years left), finding new homes next season. The market has already been unusually aggressive, so sparks are flying and Minasian needs to have both hands on the welding tool, to guide it down the right lines.
Ultimately, Perry will have to find the right permutation that significantly improves the 40-man roster and gives the squad the greatest amount of support to make a real push to the 2022 postseason. The quality of this improvement should be well correlated to the amount of financial leash provided by Moreno.
In the end, the good news is that the front office knows what it needs, it is just a matter of finding it at an acceptable price in terms of payroll and resource (prospects) expenditures.
At Angelswin.com we expect to see a solid combination of free agent signings (three already!) and one or more trades, in what will be a busy offseason for Perry Minasian and the Halos front office.