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OC Register: 2019 Angels spring training preview: outfield

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As the Angels head toward the first workout of spring training on Feb. 13, we are providing a breakdown of how they stand with their roster by position groups. Players acquired this winter include the method of their acquisition in parentheses. Today, the outfield. Previously, the rotation, bullpen and infield.

2018 RECAP

Mike Trout was Mike Trout again last season, finishing second in the MVP race for the fourth time, to go along with the two times that he’s won the award. His 1.088 OPS was the best in the majors and the best in his career, and he added improved defense, as he focused on getting better jumps. In left field, Justin Upton had a difficult season to classify. Although he hit 30 homers and posted an .808 OPS, both much in line with his career averages, his season was marred by a .197 average with runners in scoring position and some defensive lapses. Right fielder Kole Calhoun had the most inconsistent season of them all, though. After a failed attempt to improve his swing last winter, Calhoun opened the season with a .174 average and .374 OPS for the first two months. He went on the disabled list, reworked his swing, and came back on fire for two months before a cold finish. Still, he had an .800 OPS for his final 87 games. The Angels had no viable fourth outfield option for most of the season because Chris Young struggled and then got hurt. Thanks to Trout, though, the Angels still managed a collective .806 OPS from their outfielders, fourth best in the majors.

HOW IT LOOKS RIGHT NOW

Upton and Trout obviously were not going anywhere. Although there were some reports that the Angels tried to trade Calhoun, his disappointing season and $10.5 million salary in 2019 made him unlikely to actually be moved. The Angels are banking on the same group producing even better this year. Their hopes for improvement mostly hinge on Calhoun and Upton. If Upton just produces the same aggregate numbers, but more of the hits come when runners are on base, he will be much more productive. And if Calhoun can recapture what he discovered about his swing when he was on the disabled list last year, he has a chance to be at least an average major league offensive right fielder, along with a well above average one defensively. This year the Angels’ leading fourth outfielder candidates are prospect Michael Hermosillo and Peter Bourjos (minor league free agent), who is returning for his second stint with the club.

THE NEXT LAYER

Jo Adell is the Angels’ top prospect, and by all accounts the best prospect their system has seen since Trout. Adell, 19, was ranked as high as No. 2 in baseball when the annual preseason prospect rankings came out last week. He finished last season at Double-A, so he’s accomplished enough to be considered on the major league depth chart. It is likely that Adell will be the Angels’ everyday right fielder sometime in 2020, at the latest. If he gets off to a hot start and Calhoun slumps, though, it wouldn’t be a shock if Adell was in the majors sometime in 2019.

MOVE THEY COULD MAKE

There is not much wiggle room in the outfield. Obviously, Trout and Upton are locked in place. In right field, the Angels believe in Calhoun and Adell, so there is little motivation to wedge someone else in between, especially with the need to commit their financial resources to pitching. However, if they did want to add someone, Denard Span would be a good fit. He could provide some insurance if Calhoun doesn’t rebound. Also, he’s got a career .347 on-base percentage, including .341 last year in his age 34 season. A few weeks shy of his 35th birthday, Span is near the end but might be willing to accept a minor-league deal to compete as a fourth outfielder, more so than also-unsigned Adam Jones.

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I'm fine with seeing if Calhoun can work his way back offensively.  His defense certainly doesn't go in a slump and he contributes greatly on that side of the game.  Think Bourjos would be a good compliment as a right handed batter to face tough lefties.  Though he would force a roster move to the 40 Man. 

I still think if there looking to pickup another offensive piece, Marwin would be a great fit as he could play in right as well as fill in any infield spot.  Marwin could actually be the starter at 2B or 3B, go to right field against a tough lefty, and in essence have Fletcher be the platoon partner for Kole.

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16 minutes ago, Blarg said:

Taylor had some extra strong coffee this morning. 

I was going to follow up with, "...and then hit .190 with a .450 OPS in April," but I thought I'd keep things optimistic.

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As I wrote in another thread, the best-case scenario for the Angels is that Kole resurges to ~3 WAR level, Adell develops in AA/AAA, gets a September call-up and is ready for 2020. Meanwhile, Brandon Marsh starts closing the gap a bit and is less than a year behind.

For me the sleeper is Hermosillo. I'd like to see him establish himself as a Jeff Davanon type super 4th outfielder. It might take a year or two, but the potential is there. But ultimately he'll probably be trade bait, with the 4th outfield slot rotating in prospects.

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