Looking at the Angels’ Potential 2017 Bullpen

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Updated: October 15, 2016

The Angels are coming off a tough season where nothing seemed to go right, everyone got hurt, and they lost a lot of games. This offseason will be an important one to see how much more progress the Angels can make towards building a consistent and sustainable contender.

The process has begun, but it’s going to be a long and hard process to build up what has become quite possibly the worst farm system any team has had. Ever. It will also be interesting to see exactly how close the Angels’ brass truly believes it is to contending, and what they might try to add to the major league roster.

The Angels finished with one of the ten worst records in baseball (tenth worst, to be specific) so they will be able to sign any player without losing their first round pick. Earlier, we looked at what types of moves the Angels could make to add to their rotation for next season, and today we’ll look at what the Angels could do in the bullpen.

The Angels have some young and interesting pieces in the bullpen with J.C. Ramirez, Jose Valdez, and Deolis Guerra, though all suffered through growing pains to varying degrees and are not sure things. Cam Bedrosian is coming off a great season, and if he truly put everything together he could be a huge weapon in an otherwise weak bullpen.

Huston Street is coming off the worst season of his career, and outside of Street and Bedrosian, the Angels return no one to truly get excited about. There are a lot of solid, consistent options on the market, and the Angels will have a decent amount of cap space to take a run at the best of those options.

Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen – Bullpens are notoriously fickle, with pitchers coming out of nowhere to become shut down closers one season and never repeating again. These two are the premier free agent relievers, both ‘proven closers’ and the best bets to continue the success they’ve established so far in their careers.

With an unproven and potentially weak starting rotation, the Angels might be best served to take a run at the best options out there and attempt to build a strong bullpen. Adding a weapon like Aroldis Chapman or Kenley Jansen to this bullpen would take it to another level, and having a pitcher like that back there could bring the whole pitching staff up another level, especially if Mike Scioscia could take a page from Terry Francona’s book and convince someone like Chapman or Jansen to pitch the highest leverage innings possible as opposed to be locked into specific roles.

Mark Melancon – Melancon is just a step below Jansen and Chapman, coming off a great season as a proven closer himself. While Melancon doesn’t throw the ball as hard or strike out as many batters, he finds a way to get it done back there and has put together consistently good seasons for a few years now.

Melancon probably won’t command as much for as long as either Jansen or Chapman, but if the Angels are gonna bring in a high-priced free agent, you wonder if bringing in someone so similar to Huston Street is the smartest way to spend their money.

Neftali Feliz – It’s been long journey for Feliz, from one of the best closers in the game for the Rangers, to injury riddled, to putting together a solid season and setting himself up for a big payday with the Pirates this season. Feliz put together fifty-four innings with sixty-one strikeouts and a 3.35 ERA. Feliz could have just benefited from the magician that is Ray Searage, Pirates pitching coach, but Feliz has the track record to continue to build on this bounce-back season.

Travis Wood – It would be a shame to take the bat out of his hands as much as anything, but Wood and pitched effectively out of the bullpen for the Cubs this season, and would also add much needed depth in the rotation. Trevor Cahill and Scott Feldman are also options in this same vein, and should come relatively cheap.

Drew Storen – After a few great seasons with the Nationals, Storen was traded to the Blue Jays this past offseason, and after struggling for much of the season they traded him to the Mariners. Storen pitched a bit better down the stretch, but after coming up short in big spots in Washington and struggling this season on two contenders, it will be interesting to see what kind of market emerges for Storen. The Angels could buy low on a bounce back candidate in Storen.

The Bottom Line – There are lots of options for the Angels to add solid depth to the bullpen, and if the Angels believe they aren’t far from contending, they should open up the wallet to attempt to add someone like Chapman or Jansen and attempt to build their bullpen into a strength to make up for a weak rotation.

There are better options to be had on the relief market than the starters market, and adding a few pieces like Jansen, Storen, and someone like Brett Cecil, Daniel Hudson, or Joaquin Benoit could give the Angels the best bullpen in baseball. Having a versatile and strong bullpen is the new normal for contenders in baseball, and the Angels have the cap space to match a strong market and should be active.

 

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