Top needs addressed, Angels can be patient in filling out rotation

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles Angels hit the offseason with a short, specific list of needs, and so far they have addressed each of them to some degree. The rest of the winter will likely be spent tweaking or looking for that one big move that makes them legitimate contenders.
The Angels have picked up two young starting pitchers (Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs), a third baseman (David Freese) and two relievers (Joe Smith and Fernando Salas).
With Mark Trumbo having been traded, the Angels don't have enough expendable assets to make any more significant deals, so they'll likely focus on free agency to find a high quality starting pitcher.
Their top choice is Masahiro Tanaka, but they still don't even know if he'll be posted by his Japanese team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles. After that, the Angels are looking at a free agent group in which Matt Garza is the most attractive option.
If they don't land Garza, they may look at the next tier of free agent pitchers, with Chris Capuano, Paul Maholm and Jason Hammel among those the Angels are expected to consider.
Signing pitchers in that range can often be dicey - that's where the Angels got Joe Blanton last year - so now that they have Santiago and Skaggs, they can be more cautious.
"We're in position where we did greatly improve our depth and we created flexibility," general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "Whereas (before the Trumbo trade) there was an absolute need, now we can be a little more discerning."
The Angels are in the same situation with offensive players. While they would like some type of veteran who could replace some of the production lost in the Trumbo trade, Dipoto said they can make up a lot of it simply by getting improved seasons from Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, a full year from Kole Calhoun and the addition of Freese.
Raul Ibanez is the only hitter confirmed to be on the Angels' watch list right now, but Mark Reynolds, Lyle Overbay and Adam Lind may also fit.
--OF Mike Trout is in line for a huge multi-year deal, but it's not likely to happen before opening day 2014. Trout's contract will almost certainly have an average annual value around $20 million, and the Angels don't want it to count against their 2014 payroll for the Competitive Balance Tax.
--1B Albert Pujols has told the Angels that his foot is fully recovered. Pujols, who missed the last two months of last season with a torn plantar fascia, has been taking full batting practice already. Manager Mike Scioscia said he's expecting a bounce-back season from Pujols, including playing first base rather than primarily serving as the designated hitter.
--RHP Joe Smith said one of the reasons he chose to sign as a free agent with the Angels is because his fiancee works in Southern California. Allie LaForce co-hosts a national sports talk radio show that is based in Orange County.
--2B Howie Kendrick has been hearing his name in trade rumors since last July, but it now appears he is sticking with the Angels. The team did not want to move two of its everyday players in trades, so after Trumbo was dealt, Dipoto said they were likely finished making trades for the winter. Kendrick, who has two years left on his deal, would still be a candidate to be traded in July if the Angels are out of the race or next offseason.
--DH C.J. Cron won the batting title in the Arizona Fall League, encouraging the Angels that he can be part of the solution for replacing Mark Trumbo, but they aren't planning on that immediately. Dipoto and Scioscia both said they expect Cron to be in the majors later next season, but not on opening day.
--LHP Brian Moran was acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays, who selected him from the Seattle Mariners in the Rule 5 draft. Moran, 25, had a 3.45 ERA at Triple-A Tacoma in 2013, striking out 12.2 batters per nine innings. He held lefties to a .235 average.

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