The Los Angeles Angels have been tied to some high-profile pitchers and if they do not capitalize then there will be several more years of mediocrity.
The Los Angeles Angels need starting pitching, that is no secret. The Halos posted their fewest wins since 1999 and did so because of the team’s terrible starting rotation.
The Angels ranked second to last, ahead of the Colorado Rockies, in starting pitcher ERA and ranked dead last in starting pitching fWAR. The Angels were not just bad, they were awful.
This would be one thing if the team was a team like the Baltimore Orioles or Detroit Tigers, who are both currently in a downswing as they go through a rebuilding phase. This team is not rebuilding, they have the best player in baseball in Mike Trout and several other high-impact players.
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A rebuilding team does not have the ninth-highest payroll, as the Angels did in 2019. This is a team that is trying to win games but simply did not make the right moves to do so.
Luckily for Angel fans, not all hope is lost as the team has been heavily tied to the best starting pitcher in free agency, Gerrit Cole. Cole is an Orange County native and the narrative of him coming home is strong.
And as we have seen in the recent past, the Angels are not afraid to spend money to get a high-profile player.
Cole alone won’t be enough, but it is a great start. Having that Cy Young-caliber ace is the first step to being a legitimate World Series contender.
The scary part is that this offseason will dictate the near future of the Angels. If the Angels cannot come away with Cole, Strasburg or a significant improvement in the starting rotation then there are going to be several more years of mediocrity.
The starting rotation is not going to just get better and if the Angels miss out this winter they are not going to be looking at many good options next winter. The best pitchers available next offseason are Jake Arrieta, Masahiro Tanaka and Trevor Bauer.
These are good pitchers, all-star-caliber pitchers, but are not pitchers that are going to turn the fate of the organization around.
The following year is full of old elite pitchers. Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer and Zack Greinke will all be free agents. Kershaw is the youngest of the bunch at 34 but has the body of a 40-year-old. Scherzer might still be an all-star, but won’t be the same Scherzer to flip the fate of the franchise. Greinke might just outright retire.
So the future, in terms of pitching free agents, is not bright unless someone really steps up and becomes a marquee name. And it is not like the Angels can really trade for any elite starting pitchers either.
The Angels’ farm system is just now getting back to a decent state and they still only have one prospect in the top-100 in Jo Adell, who should be virtually untouchable. Not only do they not have the ammunition to get an elite arm that is under decent team control, but they also should not be intrigued to do so because of the recent state of the farm system.
The bottom line here is simple: the Los Angeles Angels are going to go all-in on Gerrit Cole because they have to.