The Angels struck a pair of moves this past week, acquiring 2B Ian Kinsler from Detroit for two prospects, and signing former Reds SS Zack Cozart to a 3 year, $38M deal.
Let’s take a look at both moves, one by one.
The Halos have failed to find a solid everyday second baseman since fan favorite Howie Kendrick was traded across the freeway to the Dodgers. Since then, they’ve gone with Johnny Giavotella, Cliff Pennington, Danny Espinosa, Brandon Phillips, Kaleb Cowart, and Nolan Fontana, all of whom struggled mightily. Kinsler, who has one year left on his contract (a respectable $11M), probably won’t completely solve the issue, but he can help them in their push for the playoffs this year. Kinsler struggled last season, hitting a measly .236 with a below average .313 OBP. On the bright side, he provided some power with 22 home runs and swiped 14 bags. These numbers, though, are a striking outlier from the rest of his career. Over his big league stint, he has hit .273 with 234 home runs, 839 RBI, and a 109 OPS+. If he can replicate his numbers before the 2016 season, the Halos will have yet another offensive weapon aboard. Kinsler was nominated for a gold glove last season too, but missed out to Twins 2B Brian Dozier. He will join defensive wizard Andrelton Simmons up the middle, creating possibly the best middle infield defense in the MLB.
The Angels’ biggest free agent signing excluding Justin Upton’s extension was also made this week, as they added the 2017 All-Star Zack Cozart. The 32-year old had a breakout season, hitting .297 with a .385 OBP, and 24 home runs. Surprisingly, Cozart’s 24 bombs were the second most in the majors for a shortstop. While his natural position is shortstop, he will shift over to third base for the 2017 season. This forms a solid infield of Pujols (when Ohtani is DHing), Kinsler, Simmons, and Cozart.
Cozart showed his excitement for a new opportunity, saying “I’ve been on some bad teams lately….When I found out the Angels were interested, that was one of the big things for me. It should be a really good team to join, so I was on board.”
PROJECTED ROSTER (Updated)
1. Ian Kinsler (2B)
2. Mike Trout (CF)
3. Justin Upton (LF)
4. Albert Pujols (1B)
5. Zack Cozart (3B)
6. Shohei Ohtani (DH)
7. Kole Calhoun (RF)
8. Andrelton Simmons (SS)
9. Martin Maldonado (C)
BENCH: C.J. Cron (1B), Luis Valbuena (3B), Carlos Perez (C)
Blake Parker (CLOSER)
Overall, the Angels have had a huge offseason. They re-stocked their young talent with young talent (Kevin Maitan and Shohei Ohtani), added two all-star caliber bats (Justin Upton and Zack Cozart), and filled the second base hole (Ian Kinsler) that they’ve long struggled with. This team is much deeper than the last two seasons, and their playoff hopes have dramatically increased. The rest of the offseason shouldn’t be too busy, but they’ll have to find a backup outfielder and infielder, plus possibly adding some pitching depth.
Thanks to Billy Eppler, the Angels are relevant again and ready to go for the 2018 season.
(Photo Credit: SI.com)