ANAHEIM — Because of the club’s impending sale, there was a sense of uncertainty around the Angels heading into the offseason. But it’s been business as usual so far for general manager Perry Minasian and the front office.
The Halos have been aggressive about improving their depth this offseason, including most recently signing infielder Brandon Drury to a two-year deal, which shows that the upcoming sale isn’t affecting the club’s ability to add players. And even though the new year is approaching, there’s still plenty of time left in the offseason to further improve the team.
With that in mind, here are three things I think:
1. The sooner the sale happens, the better for the organization
Commissioner Rob Manfred had an update on the sale of the Angels during the Winter Meetings, as he said the league is hopeful that the process could be completed by Opening Day. According to Manfred, prospective buyers have already been given financial information, which is a big step in the sale process.
If the Angels can complete a sale before Opening Day (or even early in the season), it will increase their chances of re-signing two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani to an extension, because the new ownership would have time to sell Ohtani on the future of the franchise.
It’s ultimately up to Ohtani what he wants to do, but having new ownership in place would give the Angels a better chance of retaining him. He might be tempted to test free agency either way, as there have already been rumors swirling about him potentially getting a contract worth more than $500 million.
Minasian said that Ohtani reaches out to him often during the offseason to talk about the additions the club makes and what it’s looking to do. It shows Ohtani is engaged with the club and wants to see it put a winner on the field, which is something that hasn’t happened since he arrived in 2018.
2. The Angels aren’t done adding to the roster
Even after signing Drury, there are still holes to fill, and the Halos will continue to add players they think fit the roster. They were never likely to go after high-priced shortstops Carlos Correa, Trea Turner, Xander Bogaerts or Dansby Swanson, but they’ve improved their infield depth. Drury is expected to now see time at second base, and they can rotate David Fletcher and Luis Rengifo at shortstop, with Livan Soto and Andrew Velazquez also in the mix.
The Angels are also likely to add at least another reliever and could acquire a sixth starter as well. Estévez is expected to be the closer, but the club could use more relief depth, and adding a veteran starter would make a lot of sense.
There’s always some risk associated with playing in the Classic, especially for the pitchers, who have to ramp up for high-intensity games earlier than usual. It also means that several players will be away from camp, including Ohtani, who might miss most of Spring Training with the Angels. Ohtani could opt to train with Team Japan instead, which isn’t ideal, but the Halos trust him to be ready for the start of the season.
Despite those risks, it’s an incredible event which will allow these players to experience playoff-like atmospheres. It should make for great entertainment, especially with Angels players potentially playing against each other. Could you imagine Ohtani pitching against Trout in the World Baseball Classic? To me, the positives outweigh the risks.