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Angels add depth at Winter Meetings

LAS VEGAS — It wasn’t a flashy Winter Meetings for the Angels despite being on the Las Vegas Strip, but they did add depth, agreeing to terms with first baseman Justin Bour on a one-year, $2.5 million deal and signing seven players to Minor League contracts.

Bour figures to split time at first base with Albert Pujols and gives the Angels some much-needed power from the left side. But he fills just one of several needs for the Angels, as general manager Billy Eppler remains on the lookout for pitching help and a catcher.

LAS VEGAS — It wasn’t a flashy Winter Meetings for the Angels despite being on the Las Vegas Strip, but they did add depth, agreeing to terms with first baseman Justin Bour on a one-year, $2.5 million deal and signing seven players to Minor League contracts.

Bour figures to split time at first base with Albert Pujols and gives the Angels some much-needed power from the left side. But he fills just one of several needs for the Angels, as general manager Billy Eppler remains on the lookout for pitching help and a catcher.

Eppler explored trade opportunities early in the week, but comes away from the Winter Meetings believing he’ll be more active in the free-agent market going forward.

“We’re trying to make progress on what can and can’t be a reality,” Eppler said. “There were some conversations that turned out not to be realistic at this time. It’s kind of changed us back to free agency, but there still has been some trade talk. We’ll see.”

Video: Justin Bour reportedly signs with Angels

Biggest remaining needs

1. Starting pitching: The Angels would like to add at least one starting pitcher, especially a durable one after injuries to the rotation derailed the 2018 season. Eppler said he leans toward pitchers with high strikeout and high groundball rates.

2. Relief pitching: Adding to the bullpen is a priority for Eppler, although he believes the club already has at least four in-house relievers who could serve as closer in 2019. Acquiring a left-handed reliever would make sense after trading away left-hander Jose Alvarez to the Phillies.

3. Catching: The Angels don’t have much catching depth, and manager Brad Ausmus said he’d like to have a veteran backstop to help handle the pitching staff. Eppler said they’re looking for a more defensively sound catcher to join Jose Briceno and Kevan Smith on the roster.

Video: Ausmus on expectations for 2019 season with Angels

Rule 5 Draft

The Angels didn’t make a selection in Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft and didn’t lose any players either. Eppler said the Angels valued the roster spot too much to make a selection. But they did select right-hander Matt Esparza in the Minor League portion, while losing Mitch Ghelfi, Riley Unroe, Julio Garcia and Alberto Triunfel.

GM’s bottom line

“We’re clearly trying to build organically. I think anybody can figure that out now. We haven’t traded many players in our Minor League system. Nobody impactful in terms of the top tier of our prospect tree has been traded. We know sustainable health is going to be achieved through our farm system, and then we do have the financial muscle to go outside at the right time and achieve those things as well. That’s basically going to be our cookbook.” — Eppler

Rhett Bollinger covers the Angels for MLB.com. He previously covered the Twins from 2011-18. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.



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