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OC Register: Angels leave winter meetings with unfinished business


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LAS VEGAS — Billy Eppler arrived at the winter meetings with a cough, and he left with a new first baseman, more information … and the same cough.

The Angels’ general manager, who had trouble talking to his professional counterparts and the media throughout the four days in Las Vegas, said the team moved closer to adding more players.

“We’re making progress on trying to understand what’s reality and what’s not reality,” Eppler said. “We tried to identify some targets that seem to be within striking distance. We’ll see what today and the rest of today and tomorrow and next week brings, and go from there.”

Eppler also said some of the trades they had been working on “turned out to not be really realistic at this time.” Although he didn’t rule out trade talks, he indicated at the moment he’s looking more toward free agency.

Many of the top free-agent starting pitchers have gone off the board. Dallas Keuchel is the best remaining free-agent starter, while pitchers like Yusei Kikuchi and Gio Gonzalez could also be possibilities for the Angels.

Sonny Gray and Julio Teheran are obvious fits for the Angels as trade candidates.

Aside from acquiring more pitching, starting and relief, the Angels also need a catcher. Yasmani Grandal, Wilson Ramos and former Angel Martín Maldonado are the most notable free-agent catchers. Francisco Cervelli and Russell Martín are both available in trade.

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The one move the Angels did make – unofficially – at the winter meetings was agreeing Wednesday with first baseman Justin Bour on a one-year, $2.5 million deal. The agreement won’t be official until Bour’s physical.

Bour goes into the mix with Albert Pujols and Shohei Ohtani, who are both coming back from surgery. Ohtani is not expected to be ready at the start of the season, leaving Pujols as the DH and Bour as the first baseman. Pujols also figures to need time off from playing first when Ohtani is the DH, so Bour can do that.

Eppler said he isn’t looking at further moves with his outfield.

“We are very complete in the outfield area,” he said.

Besides starters Mike Trout, Justin Upton and Kole Calhoun, the Angels have Peter Bourjos and Michael Hermosillo as the primary competitors for the fourth outfield spot.


The Angels did not make a selection or lose anyone in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft. Reliever Jeremy Rhoades was perhaps the most vulnerable Angels prospect who was unprotected. A 25-year-old right-hander, he posted a 2.54 ERA at Double-A and Triple-A in 2018, and he has allowed two runs in 13 innings this winter in the Dominican Republic. First baseman Jared Walsh, whom the Angels left off the 40-man roster despite Eppler’s assertion he could be in the mix for major league playing time this year, also went unselected…

In the minor league portion, the Angels took right-handed starter Matt Esparza from the Cleveland Indians. Esparza, a 2015 draft pick out of UC Irvine, missed almost all of last season rehabbing from injury. The Angels lost shortstop Julio Garcia to the Milwaukee Brewers, shortstop Alberto Triunfel to the St. Louis Cardinals, catcher Mitch Ghelfi to the New York Mets and shortstop Riley Unroe to the Atlanta Braves.

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The White Sox want to upgrade their Outfield. Not sure if we match up on a starting pitcher or relief pitcher trade though. Epplers comments about the outfield being set fall in line to what I stated a couple of days ago. I also think the infield is pretty much set other than catcher. I know it would be wonderful to have Machado or Harper but realistically, this teams position players are pretty much done. Will be interesting to see what he does about SP, RP and a C.

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Position players I think we still need a C. That's realistically the most value you can add, for the least amount of money /  prospects. I think it will be Cervelli via trade or Ramos via free agency. Ramos was the clear #1 choice for me, but now think he may be looking at a team where he can play some 1st/DH. I'd also like Grandal of course, despite what people think he may be failing at in the playoffs last year, he's the #1 FA catcher. This blog has him somewhere between 10-13 AAV over two or three years.


I also wanted to look at Marwin Gonzalez, partly because the Angels would be taking him away from the Astros. But with the addiitons of Bour and LaStella, this is obviously not in the cards. And maybe a better bat in RF, but again, Bour seems to take this away. Perhaps Fletcher is the 5th OF?

My thoughts on being complete in the OF -- This means that they think Adell is pretty close to seeing the majors, at most he's up by mid-season 2020.  And if not in line for a starting job either late this year or early next. Or they think Calhoun is back to healthy and productive. They also must like the three 4th OF candidates a lot.

Also, as far as a lot still to be done...

The #1, #2, #3, #7, #11-19, #21-23, #25, #27-#32, #35 & #39 of the top 40 FA on that 131 FA list are still available. That's half of the top 40, and the vast majority of the free agent class.


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8 minutes ago, Halodays said:

Does anybody else think that Eppler is like the kid who gets picked last when picking teams? Nobody likes what he has to offer?

We don't know how negotiations were going in trade discussions. He may have been in on one or more of the names who have moved or have been rumored to move but the teams were too far apart in value. It's like the game show Deal or No Deal, sometimes the banker (Eppler) is so far away from what the contestant (Team trading player) wants, but its actually pretty fair and makes sense. Later on, the contestant may get a better deal or a worse deal than was offered.  And this goes for Free Agents as well. People say the Angels never offered Moustakas a contract last offseason, but then some do say he was offered, but even the Cozart deal would've been better than what he ended up with.

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It's weird that none of the catchers has moved/signed yet.    Granted, there are still slightly under 2 months until ST starts.

Dates when Machado and Harper sign?   At this rate, it will be mid-late January.    Maybe the asking price will eventually have to come down, as I can't imagine them risking missing any ST with their prospective new team.    At what point will Bo-arse finally have to come down in his demands?


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