Will Leitch of MLB.com published an article on Wednesday discussing five teams with the most to prove this offseason and the Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Angels were two of the five teams.
Heading into the 2020 season, there is no doubt that the fate of this era of the Colorado Rockies is at a crossroads. Will they turn around and rebound to their winning ways of 2017 and 2018 or will they fade down the path of losing and rebuilding for the foreseeable future?
That is part of the reason why the Colorado Rockies are one of the five teams that have the most to prove this offseason, according to Will Leitch of MLB.com.
He contends in his article that the Rockies of 2019 “looked eerily similar to those old Rockies teams with artificially inflated offensive numbers that masked some real lineup deficiencies.” By wRC+, the Rockies offense was 26th in all of baseball. But that’s about where it has been for the last few years.
However, the Rockies pitching staff pitched well in 2017 and 2018 but in 2019, they fell off the wagon and so did the team.
Leitch was also on MLB Network’s offseason morning show, Hot Stove, on Thursday to discuss the article and he discussed their pitching and a comparison with the Rockies.
That comparison was with the Rockies and the Los Angeles Angels.
Currently, both teams have two of the best players in the entire sport in Mike Trout and Nolan Arenado. Both teams also have both players locked up for the foreseeable future (unless Arenado opts out after the 2021 season). But the problem for both teams is that their pitching and secondary talent was not good.
For the Angels, both have been problems for years whereas for the Rockies, only the secondary talent part of that has been true for, frankly, most of the history of the franchise.
Both teams have also struck out on the free agent market in recent years. Here are some of the club’s free agent signings that are on the Angels’ books right now.
- Albert Pujols, entering year eight of a 10 year contract for $254 million. He has hit to a 110 OPS+ in the first seven years, a 170 OPS+ in 11 seasons in St. Louis. His OPS+ since 2017 is 88.
- Justin Upton, entering year three of a five year contract for $106 million. He has only averaged 104 games a season in the first two years of the deal and he has had a 112 OPS+ since the beginning of the deal. It was 137 the year before the contract.
- Zack Cozart, entering the final year of a three year contract for $38 million. Since signing with the Angels before the 2018 season, he has played in a total of 96 games due to numerous injuries. He has played to a 53 OPS+ in that time.
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The Angels also struck out on a few other big free agents last year and in this decade.
- Right-handed pitcher Matt Harvey: The Angels signed him to a 1-year deal worth $11 million. He got nearly $1 million per start as in 12 starts, he pitched to a 7.09 ERA (6.35 FIP) before he was released in mid-July.
- Right-handed pitcher Trevor Cahill: 2019 Opening Day starter after pitching to a 110 ERA+ with Oakland in 21 games (20 starts) in 2018, he pitched to a 5.98 ERA in 37 games (11 starts). He was paid $9 million in 2019.
- Former Rockies catcher Jonathan Lucroy: 82 OPS+ before suffering an injury and being DFA’d and released by the Angels in early August. He was paid $3.35 million in 2019 for his one-year deal.
- Reliever Cody Allen: Former Indians closer who dominated from 2013-2017 (averaged 72 games a season with a 2.59 ERA) pitched to a 6.25 ERA for the Angels in 25 games before being DFA’d in June. The Angels gave him a 1-year, $8.5 million contract last offseason.
- Left-handed starter CJ Wilson’s five-year, $77.5 million deal in which he pitched to a 96 ERA+ after coming in 6th in the AL Cy Young Award voting before signing with the Angels.
- Josh Hamilton‘s five-year contract worth $125 million. In two years with the team, he averaged 120 games a season and average a 110 OPS+. In five seasons with the Texas Rangers before coming to the Angels, he won the 2010 AL MVP and came in 5th in 2012. He averaged a 137 OPS+ in those five years, and a 147 OPS+ in the three seasons prior to going to L.A. He was traded back to the Texas between year two and year three and after one injury plagued season back in Texas, he was out of baseball due to injuries and many off the field issues, one of which put him in the news last week.
The Rockies, however, only have Nolan Arenado for a guaranteed two years as he could opt-out when the Angels have Trout for the next 11 seasons.
The Angels have made one move already this offseason by firing their first-year manager Brad Ausmus in favor of former World Champion manager Joe Maddon but both the Angels and Rockies are two of the five teams that Leitch mentions as teams that have the most to prove.
They will both have to make some changes this offseason to prove that they will be in contention in 2020 because, as it currently stands, neither one of them is in a good spot.