The Los Angeles Angels finished the 2016 with an unimpressive record of 74-88; good for fourth place in the American League West. Due to injuries and poor free agent signings, the Angels have an uphill battle in front of them to get back into contention. Here are some of the needs they can address to get back on track.
Los Angeles Angels 2016 Offseason Needs
Trade Huston Street
There are so many holes that Angels have top-to-bottom in their organization, but perhaps the most glaring need is improving the talent in the minors. The Angels have one of the worst-rated farm systems in baseball, and the lack of quality prospects is becoming a real concern.
Unfortunately, improving the prospect pool is going to be easier said than done. Short of trading superstar outfielder Mike Trout (which is unlikely to happen), there are few players on the club that offer any value on the trade market.
One player who they should look to move, however, is reliever Huston Street. Although he’s coming off an injury-plagued 2016 campaign, Street has been stellar the last four years. Given that teams desire to build unstoppable bullpens, Street offers the most value on the trade market, thanks largely to the team-friendly salary he is signed too.
Look no further than the haul that the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees received when they traded away their star closers last year. The Yankees received two top-25 prospects, and the Phillies received one of the Houston Astros top prospects. The Angels have a long way to go to build up their farm system, but trading Street would give them a much needed shot in the arm.
Angels owner Arte Moreno loves to spend money. He’s signed big name players to big time contracts for years. Unfortunately, most of those signings have failed to net any positive return for the club in recent years.
Luckily for fans in Los Angeles, some onerous contracts are finally coming off the books this offseason, as Jared Weaver and C.J. Wilson are no longer the Angels problems. With some extra cash to spend, some might think that Moreno is ready to jump head first into free agency this year.
However, the best course of action for Moreno and the team would be to practice restraint. The upcoming free agent class is one of the weakest ever, so sake of money would be foolish. Realistically, the Angels aren’t a player or two from competing. It would be best to save for the monster free agency next year.
Obviously the players will be better, but the Angels will also be free of more dead salary, mostly in the case of Josh Hamilton and his disastrous contract.
Improve the Defense
Admittedly, the Angels have already gotten a head start in this department after acquiring outfielder Cameron Maybin early this offseason. However, Maybin should only be the start for a team that finished in the bottom third in baseball in defensive efficiency.
An area that the Angels could look to upgrade would be at second base, where Cliff Pennington didn’t light the world on fire at the plate or in the field. Pennington graded as one of the worst second basemen in the game, so moving on from him shouldn’t be tough
Third base is another position that could use a defensive upgrade, though this might be a bit trickier. The Angels just picked up Yunel Escobar‘s option and, to be fair, he had a strong season at the plate. If the Angels are to field a competitive team, they’ll need Escobar’s bat in the lineup. However, should the team fall off the rails early, Escobar is another one of a handful of players who would offer some value on the trade market.