The Los Angeles Angels are in need of reliable starting pitching this offseason and are stuck between a rock and a hard place.
The Los Angeles Angels biggest need this offseason is starting pitching. The team has some promising young arms in Tyler Skaggs and Andrew Heaney but the rest of the rotation has a giant question mark around it.
Shohei Ohtani will not pitch again until 2020 because of Tommy John Surgery and Garrett Richards is now a San Diego Padre. While the Angels have seven starting pitchers listed on the unofficial depth chart, it really drops off from the top two spots.
Skaggs and Heaney are good but they should not be the best two arms in a starting rotation that is looking to be playoff bound. When it is all said and done, pitching is the great equalizer in the MLB and the Angels’ pitching has held them back.
The team has had depth before but has constantly been struck by the injury bug, which has exposed a lack of depth outside of the best five arms. With troubles injury luck still plaguing the team, this shifts the focus not only to good starting pitching but arms that can be reliable.
And that is where the problem lies. The Angels did not land Patrick Corbin and now find themselves in a bit of a pitching purgatory.
The best arms left on the market are Dallas Keuchel and J.A. Happ. Both are great pitchers and Keuchel especially has shown that he can be an elite pitcher. Both are also over the age of 30 (Kecuhel 31 at season start and Happ 36) with declining velocities.
Both guys would be a good addition but both would probably get contracts that overvalue their talent and put the Angels in a tough spot in two to three years.
There is the option of trading for an ace as well but that probably is not even worth it either.
The two routes the Angels can take is either trading for Madison Bumgarner or one of the Cleveland Indians starting pitchers that are available. The trouble with doing this is that the Angels have just recently built a respectable farm system.
For a while, the Angels had one of the worst farm systems in baseball. While adding these arms would be great, it would reset the Angels’ system back to the bottom, which led to this predicament in the first place.
There is also the possibility of trading for former Angel Zack Greinke, a possibility that probably would not work. The Los Angeles Angels are included in Greinke’s no-trade list, meaning he can block (or allow) any deal between the Diamondbacks and Angels.
If the deal were to go through the Angels would not have to give as many prospects, which seems great. However, that is because Greinke is owed a lot of money, which includes a $62.5 million payout from 2022 to 2026.
The Diamondbacks would have to take all of that payout and then some of the contract to prevent the Angels from making another Albert Pujols or Josh Hamilton mistake. That won’t happen and Greinke isn’t even worth it.
That leaves the team in a weird state. They can rely on their current arms and hope that they can right the ship. Or, the team can hope to find gems on the free agency market, which could even include the best foreign arm on the market, Yusei Kikuchi.
Kikuchi is a fun what-if, especially after landing Ohtani last year, but he has already dealt with shoulder problems and does not scream reliable.
Who knows what the Los Angeles Angels are going to do. All I know is that if the team wants to make Mike Trout a lifetime Angel, they better figure it out sooner rather than later.