Just under a year ago I posted an article of a similar kind to this one, outlining who the Angels would keep and who the Angels would shuffle out of the organization after 2015. The purpose was to highlight what a rebuilt offense could look like, but most of it was vanilla—I’d stated the obvious and missed on that which I could not predict.
What I didn’t do in that article was outline what a holistic organizational rebuild might look like and what approaches a club might take to accomplish that goal. I want to do that now, going through what an actual rebuild might look like for the Angels over the next several months, incorporating a variety of scenarios.
Today, we dive into the first rebuild strategy:
The Slight Retooling
This is what most teams go through at the trade deadline and offseason. They’re trying to make the jump from a 78-84 win team into the more profitable 87-93 win range without sacrificing their future. Most of these teams aren’t big buyers or sellers at the trade deadline. Instead they sit out until a deal presents itself that’s too good to pass up. During the winter, they might be in on some of the lower priced free agents and try making some savvy short-term investments with marginal risk.
What might this look like for the Angels?
Well, for starters, if the Angels are to be a part of this group that’d mean they are hovering around .500. The odds of that don’t look great at the moment, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility. Pitching can still be expected to be a weakness come July, so in this scenario it’s possible the Angels go after guys like Ricky Nolasco, Tyson Ross, or Andrew Cashner, all pitchers with question marks.
On the offensive side of things, their current glut of options for left field—Daniel Nava, Craig Gentry, Rafael Ortega, Nick Buss, Todd Cunningham, Shane Robinson, Kyle Kubitza—would need to be fully exhausted before making a move there, and that seems unlikely.
Over the winter, their targets would likely include Colby Rasmus or Carlos Gomez rather than top-tier players like Jose Bautista or Edwin Encarnacion. At second base, the Angels could: 1) stick with Johnny Giavotella again, 2) go with an in-house option like Kaleb Cowart, Kyle Kubitza, or Sherman Johnson or 3) they could venture into the free agent market for a low-cost acquisition like Chase Utley.
On the pitching side of things, the Angels would likely look for pitchers that could stabilize the rotation. These aren’t the ace types a team spends $20+ million on to try and compete immediately. These are the type of #3-4-5 starters that teams invest in with the hopes of getting 200 innings and an ERA under 4.00. Cashner would be on this list, as well as Jon Niese and Jeremy Hellickson. The Angels could also be in the market for a setup man, of which there are seemingly a multitude. Joe Smith has expressed significant interest in a return to Anaheim, so maybe that happens.
The End Result
An Angels offense that significantly resembles their current one. Yunel Escobar would have his option picked up at $7 million and return to leadoff/third base. The middle of the order still has Kole Calhoun, Mike Trout, and Albert Pujols, while the bottom of the order still has Carlos Perez at catcher, C.J. Cron at first, and Andrelton Simmons at shortstop. The new acquisitions in this scenario are something like Colby Rasmus in left field and Chase Utley at 2B. On the mound, they’d still resemble the current staff—minus Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson to free agency and potentially minus both Garrett Richards and Andrew Heaney due to injury—so some variation of Hector Santiago, Tyler Skaggs, Nick Tropeano, Matt Shoemaker and possibly Jeremy Hellickson or Nate Smith.
Again, it’s important to keep in mind the Angels probably only follow this course of action if they’re in the .500 range come August 1, and there’s no guarantee they’re anywhere close to that.
Tune in tomorrow for Part II of the rebuild series: A New Direction.