New General Manager Perry Minasian has been vocal about the need for starting pitching, and he finally added in that department. The Angels have reportedly signed José Quintana to a one year, 8 million dollar deal. Quintana had a lost 2020 season due to a dishwashing cut and a left lat problem, but his 2019 was very solid. He put together a 4.68 ERA, 4.20 xFIP season while allowing a .333 xwOBA and accumulating a 3.5 fWAR over 171 innings. His 2019 Statcast numbers, however, leave a ton of skepticism.
One of the positives that Quintana brings is that he has been extremely durable throughout his career, which is something this Angels rotation desperately needs. If he can continue that trend in 2021, a one year deal at 8 million will look like a steal. Fangraphs median crowdsource projected a 2 year, 20 million dollar deal for him, so this came in at a year and money total that was less than expected.
This leaves the Angels with Dylan Bundy, Andrew Heaney, Griffin Canning, José Quintana, and whatever they can get out of Shohei Ohtani in the starting rotation. That last spot could be solved internally with Jaime Barria or Patrick Sandoval, but both would be better served as depth pieces. The easiest and most popular answer for Angel fans has been to sign Trevor Bauer, but the Angels payroll now sits at about 172 million. Fitting in the $30 million-ish annual salary that Bauer will command seems extremely unlikely, and they have no real way to clear money either. Yes, Pujols’ contract is up after this season and that will open up future payroll, but expecting an MLB owner to open up the payroll a significant amount after the 2020 shortened season is just asking to be let down. On top of the payroll seemingly being close to the max, the Angels have not shown a willingness or ability to trade from their farm system to acquire controllable starting pitching.
So while Quintana represents a clear upgrade in their rotation, if he is the best starter Minasian acquires, the offseason will be a clear failure. The Angels have loaded up on one-year deals yet again, but the rotation needs some future certainty now more than ever. Quintana, Bundy, and Heaney will all be free agents after the 2021 season, so at some point you have to add controllable pitching. Maybe Arte Moreno just blows up his pockets after all and goes after Bauer, or maybe Minasian finds a way to trade a top outfield prospect and whatever else it takes to get a frontline starter, but right now it feels like the Angels will go into next season with a marginally improved rotation. If they add another back-end reliever, that might just be enough to have a respectable pitching staff, but they do not have enough at the moment to truly compete.