GM Billy Eppler reiterated the Angels’ plan to build upon the growth of their farm system in 2018, per Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. The plan is clear: build a Top-5 system, and then use their financial muscle to supplement (Fangraphs pegs their current farm as the 12th most valuable system in the league). The Angels aren’t out on all trade candidates, however, as Eppler makes an important distinction in stating that they haven’t traded anyone “impactful” from their farm. Deals that don’t require surrendering top prospects remain theoretically in play, though such a strategy likely won’t yield any of the sexier names being bandied about these winter meetings, such as Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer or J.T. Realmuto. Fletcher suggests Sonny Gray, Francisco Cervelli and Julio Teheran as the types of trade targets that might be within their reach. These types of targets are likely better fits for their financial outlook as well.
- Behind the leadership of President of Baseball Ops Farhan Zaidi, the San Francisco Giants will open their playbook to more modern pitching strategies next season, per Kerry Crowley of the Mercury News. A staff comprised of injury-prone veterans like Jeff Samardzija and up-and-comers potentially on innings limits (Dereck Rodriguez, Andrew Suarez) may lead manager Bruce Bochy to employ the Opener strategy or, as Zaidi puts it, “different forms of pitching staff constructions” in 2019. Bochy is a noted traditionalist in the dugout, but in lieu of finding five starters capable of pitching 200 innings, he and Zaidi will be forced to adapt by building a pitching strategy tailored to their current personnel. The Giants may still add to their stable of arms, but outfield is far-and-away the winter priority at this time, and they feel pretty good about where how the bullpen is currently constructed. That said, there has been considerably trade interest in Will Smith and Tony Watson, so the near-term outlook could change if a can’t-miss deal presents itself. Thus far, Zaidi is adhering to a patient approach in his first winter at the helm, which makes sense given the financial and talent makeup of the San Francisco roster.
- The Braves lost out to division rival Philadelphia in the bidding for Andrew McCutchen, though Atlanta was never a serious contender once the price rose to include a third season, per MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. GM Alex Anthopoulos is perfectly content to wait until the new year before making any more additions, should that be what the market dictates. In the case of McCutchen, for instance, the Braves viewed the former Pirates outfielder as comparable to Carlos Gonzalez or Nick Markakis – corner bats that add value when secured on a shorter-term deal. They’ve vetted most outfielders available, and a bigger name like Michael Brantley is still in play for Atlanta, but the Braves aren’t eager to overpay for expediency at this stage of the winter. This mirrors the situation they faced earlier in the winter when they looked into possibly acquiring J.T. Realmuto. After feeling like the Marlins wouldn’t deal within the division, they moved on to free agent target Brian McCann. While the intra-division embargo seems to have passed, the Braves will not be reengaging the Marlins, as they secured a catching tandem they like, in McCann and Tyler Flowers, at a price they like.