The Los Angeles Angels are in the midst of fighting for a playoff spot in the American League, but it's not too early to start looking at the team's prospects for next season. With some obvious needs, the Halos need to get better immediately.
The team is built to win now, and in order to do so, they'll need to bolster the roster with some key free agents. Team owner Arte Moreno has set a precedent that money is no object, so we'll assume that in this piece. Still, these are all realistic signings based on team needs and whether or not each player would fit well with the current group.
Let the speculation begin.
He's a fan favorite in New York, but if the Mets lets him go for some reason, he'd be a good fit for the Angels, who can use some pop at that position. It's an unlikely scenario, but if he hits the market this winter, the Angels will be right in the middle of the bidding war.
The 31-year-old Peavy still has plenty of gas left in the tank and would be a nice replacement for Zack Greinke, who the team is likely to lose following 2012. He has a career ERA of 3.45 and is a strikeout machine with 1,716.
The Mobile, Ala. product, who got his start on the West Coast with the San Diego Padres, would be welcomed back to Southern California with open arms. The Angels have hung their hat on good pitching, so they'll need to fill the void with a live arm.
Nick Swisher has plenty of good baseball left in him at 31 years old. The current New York Yankees outfielder can play multiple positions and is a solid hitter who can get on base with good plate discipline. He's got a .358 OBP for his career, and with the Angels' power, he'd be a nice supplement to the team.
Swisher is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in 2013 and should be reasonably priced at market value. Given the Yankees' lineup, Swisher is expendable and should test the waters this offseason.
His numbers are down in 2012, so it stands to reason that he could be had at a bargain for the Halos. Given the fact that the team is looking for immediate gratification, he could be the ideal player to take the club to the next level in the postseason.
Jonathan Sanchez has had a rough time in Colorado pitching in the home-run inducing confines of Coors Field. A return to the West Coast could be just what the doctor ordered for the 29-year-old lefty. The Angels will likely need to replace Dan Haren, and Sanchez could fill the void nicely at a reasonable price.
Sometimes a change of scenery is all that's needed to turn things around. For someone with the kind of talent that Sanchez has, the Angels' winning culture could be the perfect fit.
The Halos' middle relief could use some help, and his stellar numbers in 2012—a 2.69 ERA, 17 saves, 58 strikeouts and a WHIP of .96—would add firepower to the bullpen. Ernesto Frieri is well-entrenched as the closer, but Balfour alongside Frieri could give the Angels a late-game one-two punch.
David Ortiz's 2012 season has been marred by injuries, but the Angels could use a power-hitting lefty in a lineup that's very right-hand dominant presently. Ortiz will be an unrestricted free agent following the season, and it's unlikely that the Boston Red Sox will re-sign him.
With Kendrys Morales slated to test the market, it's likely that the Halos will be looking for a DH. With a win-now mentality, the team could use his power and take advantage of his last years of solid productivity. If he can stay healthy, then the signing would make perfect sense.
The New York Yankees still haven't locked up their star center fielder, and that could mean a major boost for another team. Why not the Halos?
Curtis Granderson is a masher at the plate and would fit well with the team as a left-handed power-hitting outfielder. He'll cost a boatload of money, but grouping him with Mike Trout and Vernon Wells or Torii Hunter would make the team dangerous.
The biggest concern would be where to play everyone. Would Granderson accept a move to left field in deference of the future perennial Gold Glove award-winning Trout? For a career stat line of a .263 BA, 202 homers, 571 RBI and a .342 OBP, the potential risk of issues with that scenario are arbitrary.
Josh Hamilton will be the most coveted free agent on the market this offseason, and if that happens, the Angels will be in the running for his services like always.
Angels fans know what Hamilton brings to the table, and if he was added to the current lineup, the team would effectively have the best lineup in baseball—on paper. Given their recent history as rivals, it would be interesting to see whether or not the dynamic could work.
If Hamilton has it together in terms of his off-field issues, the Halos will put aside any rivalry and welcome his career average of .305 and 158 home runs to the ballclub.