Projecting the Angels Opening Day Roster

Entering Spring Training with 68 potential candidates* to crack their Opening Day roster, the Angels have already made some drastic changes to their Spring roster. Jose Quijada has yet to arrive to camp due to visa issues. Gerardo Reyes lasted a handful of pitches before going down with an elbow injury that will require Tommy John surgery and an outrighting from the 40-man roster. Brendan McCurry, a non-roster invitee, also had an elbow injury leading to Tommy John surgery. Minor leaguers: Zac Kristofak and Austin Warren were added as non-roster invitees, Junior Guerra was added to the 40-man roster replacing Reyes, and 11 players have been reassigned to minor league camp (Hector Yan, Brandon Marsh, Denny Brady, Davis Daniel, Harrison Wenson, Keinner Pina, Jack Kruger, Jeremiah Jackson, Livan Soto, Brennon Lund, and Jordyn Adams).

That 68 quickly drops to 55 players still on the Spring Training roster with two weeks remaining before Opening Day. Some players still in big league camp have been noted by management as destined for the Minor Leagues – or alternate site prior to MiLB’s season.

With all the information given by Perry Minasian, Joe Maddon, and the coaching staff, here is a quick attempt at configuring the Angels potential 26-man Opening Day roster:

ROTATION:

– Dylan Bundy, RHP

– Griffin Canning, RHP

– Alex Cobb, RHP

– Andrew Heaney, LHP

– Shohei Ohtani, RHP/DH

– Jose Quintana, LHP

On Wednesday afternoon, Joe Maddon essentially confirmed what the Angels rotation will look like at the start of the season, with no particular order outside of Dylan Bundy getting the Opening Day nod. There aren’t many surprises from the group, as it seemed planned from the start of spring that this would be the six men who would fill the six-man rotation.

BULLPEN:

– Jaime Barria, RHP

– Ty Buttrey, RHP

– Alex Claudio, LHP

– Jake Faria, RHP

– Junior Guerra, RHP

– Raisel Iglesias, RHP

– Mike Mayers, RHP

– Aaron Slegers, RHP

Maddon noted on Thursday that the Angels will likely carry eight relief pitchers onto their Opening Day roster, making for a four-man bench which will include Shohei Ohtani as a pinch hitter on the days he is not pitching or in the lineup. Felix Pena, who figured to be a key cog in the bullpen, will likely miss the start of the season with a Grade-1 Hamstring strain, and could be an addition near the middle-to-late stages of April, leaving the Angels with an optionable pitcher such as Patrick Sandoval or Aaron Slegers battling for the eighth spot in the bullpen.

Jake Faria has impressed in the Spring and has the pedigree of success at the Major League level to be added to the 40-man roster prior to the season and fill a roster spot. Pitchers with options like Luke Bard, Kyle Keller, and Jose Suarez are likely destined for the alternate site; as well as Chris Rodriguez, who the Angels are hoping to continue developing as a starter in the minors over the course of the season. Non-roster invitees: Jesse Chavez, Thomas Pannone, Dillon Peters, Jake Reed, and Ben Rowen likely will join the alternate site or be released pending their contract status. Packy Naughton, another non-roster invite, has been throwing after being diagnosed with a Grade-1 flexor pronator strain, and will likely pickup in develop once the Triple-A season begins. The question of Rule-5 Draft pick, Jose Alberto Rivera, staying with the organization will likely rely on Houston’s evaluation of their former farm hand, as he will not be on the Opening Day roster and can only be retained by the Angels if he has an injury that will afford him the 90 days on the active roster later in the season.

CATCHERS

– Max Stassi, C

– Kurt Suzuki, C

Stassi’s health going into the Spring was the only real difference maker here. It’s going to be this duo who will split time pending starting pitcher or matchups. Anthony Bemboom, though proven serviceable at the Major League level, will head for the alternate site and Triple-A Salt Lake. Juan Graterol, a non-roster invite, likely joins Bemboom in Salt Lake; while Anthony Mulrine, another non-roster invitee who is still on the big-league Spring roster, will head for an affiliate to continue development after Spring and alternate site.

INFIELDERS

– Franklin Barreto, IF

– David Fletcher, 2B

– Jose Iglesias, SS

– Albert Pujols, 1B

– Anthony Rendon, 3B

– Jared Walsh, 1B

Most of the infield was already mapped out prior to Spring Training. Jared Walsh will get the majority share at first base with Albert Pujols getting less time in the field, and likely split time against lefties when Shohei Ohtani is available to hit. David Fletcher, Jose Iglesias, and Anthony Rendon are obvious.

The not so obvious lies in the bench infield position which has become a battle between Franklin Barreto and Luis Rengifo as front runners. Both have performed well during Spring Training, but the edge will go to Barreto who is out of options, something Rengifo possesses.

Matt Thaiss and Jack Mayfield still have options and will head for the alternate site, where Thaiss will likely work on his play at the corners for a future bench position. The non-roster invites: Phil Gosselin, Jose Rojas, and Kean Wong, will also head for the alternate site, with Rojas being the one with an edge up on potentially joining the club at some point during the season pending injuries and performance, as he has now become more versatile beyond the corners playing second base during spring.

OUTFIELDERS

– Dexter Fowler, RF

– Juan Lagares, OF

– Mike Trout, CF

– Justin Upton, LF

Trout making the Opening Day club? Shocking (he says with as much sarcasm as possible). Upton is also obvious here, and Fowler is a club favorite and was brought in to be the primary right fielder to begin the season. Jo Adell likely takes the reigns in right field at some point during the season, but the Angels still have development plans for their top prospect*. Taylor Ward, though showing positive signs offensively and versatility wise defensively (Joe Maddon noted he feels comfortable placing Ward at all three outfield positions and would like to see him work on game-calling behind the plate in the minors), has options and will be victim to those options in place for a non-roster fourth outfielder.

The fourth outfield position battle is intriguing and likely the most challenging to peg for the 26th man on the roster. Juan Lagares has the performance and pedigree of being a gifted defender at all three outfield positions, along with some speed on the base paths, giving him a slight edge for me. However, Maddon still has high praise for Jon Jay who could sneak in above Lagares in the manager’s favor. Scott Schebler is still a candidate and has a 30-home run season from 2017 in his back pocket.

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