Before the offseason started, nobody truly believed that the Los Angeles Angels could be called a legitimate contender. Now, after how active they were in the Winter Meetings and their signing of Shohei Ohtani, they are considered AL West favorites. Billy Eppler set out this offseason to make the moves necessary to get Mike Trout and the team a ring. After seeing how well they performed when Trout was healthy, the team knew that they were on the verge of becoming something special. That is what they have done. The Angels have become a team that the American League is fearing because one move after another in these past few weeks have propelled them up the power rankings.

One of the big moves the Angels made over the past few days was trading for second baseman Ian Kinsler from the Detroit Tigers. In return, the Angels gave the Tigers two prospects, Wilkel Hernandez and Troy Montgomery. Kinsler is coming off of one of the worst seasons of his career, which is still a substantial upgrade from the second base disaster the team had last year. Kinsler seems to be declining, only hitting 22 home runs last season and an OBP of .313  which is way below his career .342 OBP. The Angels have only one year of control of Kinsler and only have to pay him $11 million for the season. He’s a solid defender and a great trade to improve the team even more, especially if he can avoid declining and get back to his career average.

The Angels also filled another hole at third base by signing Zack Cozart. Cozart is the opposite of Kinsler, he’s coming off probably the best season of his career at the age of 32 years old. With a .385 OBP last season and 24 home runs, Cozart looks to do some damage. While he most likely won’t put up those same numbers in 2018, he will still be extremely productive as his offense has improved due to his decrease in groundballs and lifting the ball more. He’s a great defender and the left side is locked down with him and Andrelton Simmons at third and shortstop.

Billy Eppler has been really on top of getting the players necessary to make the Angels ready to compete for next season. The additions of players are two infield spots that were definitely lacking shows he means business when it comes to putting the club together. The Angels are looking to still get another starting pitcher to better solidify their rotation but do feel confident with what they have. There are even talks of the team running a six-man rotation not just so Ohtani can rest, but so all of their pitchers have a longer break in between starts. The Winter Meetings are over, but there is still work to be done and plenty of free agents to sign. There is also the possibility that Kole Calhoun is traded to get that final starting pitcher piece, but it isn’t obvious quite yet how Eppler intends to improve the roster further.

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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