Speaking of very good off-seasons, the Angels have had one.
Angels GM Jerry Dipoto has had himself a very nice off-season, one in which he positioned his team both to win in 2015 and also to sustain the winning in the years ahead. He’ll also begin the season with payroll flexibility to make more additions. So while the Angels didn’t make a lot of huge headlines, they did put themselves in a good place going forward.
In looking at the 2015 Angels, it’s about Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson and Josh Hamilton. It’s about Albert Pujols staying healthy and Garrett Richards and Matt Shoemaker continuing the progress they made in 2014. When a team won 98 times the year before, goals and expectations are high.
The Angels and Mariners will be almost unanimous picks to finish first and second (in some order) in the AL West. In keeping his team competitive, DiPoto also positioned them for the years ahead. He added two highly touted young starting pitchers in Andrew Heaney and Nick Tropeano. He added a young third baseman in Kyle Kubitza and set up a nice little spring competition for the second base man with Josh Rutledge, Grant Green, Johnny Giovotella and Taylor Featherstone. He also acquired an everyday designated hitter in Matt Joyce.
It’s interesting to farm system assessment. In recent years, the Angels have been near the bottom. But in that time, they’ve gotten a steady stream of contributions from their minor leagues, from Mike Trout and Garrett Richards to Matt Shoemaker, Cam Bedrosian and Kole Calhoun.
As Dipoto looked ahead, though, he saw a thin system. But Tropeano and Heaney provide depth and an eventual transition with C.J. Wilson and Weaver unsigned after 2016. And with third baseman David Freese entering the final year of his contract, Kubitza could provide a smooth transition there as well.