Angels lay groundwork at Winter Meetings

Eppler pleased with talks as club seeks roster additions

Angels lay groundwork at Winter Meetings

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Billy Eppler rushed out of an expansive ballroom at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center on Thursday morning with a smile on his face and plans in his head.

The Angels might not have made any moves during the Winter Meetings, but the club's energetic general manager, now in his second offseason at the helm, has laid plenty of groundwork for coming transactions.

It's only a matter of when.

Hot Stove Tracker

Before the Meetings even began, the Angels had re-signed reliever Andrew Bailey, traded for left fielder Cameron Maybin and signed right-hander Jesse Chavez and outfielder Ryan LaMarre. But there's a lot more work to be done. The club still wants a second baseman, a fourth outfielder and pitching.

"We're engaged in a lot of conversations, texts, calls, all the above," Eppler said. "It's very regular."

Eppler presented a mood of constant patience throughout the four days of these Meetings. It's no secret that his Angels, who finished 74-88 in an injury-ravaged 2016, have some roster vacancies to fill and some question marks, particularly on the pitching side.

This week, the Angels contacted other teams about pitching, and they are expected to continue to do so. A source said versatile right-hander Bud Norris is on the club's radar, and Eppler said this week that the Halos are considering free agents and trades, and they are not closing the door on the possibility of acquiring players for the Major League roster and for the sake of creating depth to then orchestrate bigger deals.

The Angels have inquired about veteran outfielder Coco Crisp, a switch-hitter who grew up in the Los Angeles area and is very familiar with American League West pitching after spending several seasons with the A's. Brandon Moss and Angel Pagan are other free-agent possibilities that would make some sense.

It remains to be seen what the Angels might do for a second baseman. Los Angeles native Chase Utley is available on the free-agent market, as are Chris Coghlan and Stephen Drew. It's also been reported that Brian Dozier of the Twins and Ian Kinsler of the Tigers could be available in trades, although the Halos might not have the quality pitching prospects needed to get those deals done. Brandon Phillips of the Reds also might be a trade possibility.

Deals done
The Angels did not make any official transactions at the Winter Meetings, but Eppler said each day with growing confidence that they were making progress.

Goals accomplished
Eppler indicated that the Halos continued very productive conversations with clubs to achieve their goals, and also maintained an open mind regarding free agents and trades.

Unfinished business
The Angels would like a second baseman, preferably one who hits left-handed. They'd like a fourth outfielder. They'd like more starting pitching, maybe some relievers. If they get all that, maybe they'd look into another catcher, too. They'd like to get better on their big league team and in their Minor League system.

Rule 5 Draft
The Halos selected right-hander Justin Haley from Boston's Triple-A roster in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft and traded him to Minnesota, then picked three players in the Triple-A phase: shortstop Matt Williams from the Cardinals' Double-A roster, left-hander Adrian Almeida from the Mets and catcher Mario Sanjur from the Tigers.

The Angels lost Minor League right-hander Anthony Bemboom to the Rockies, outfielder Cal Towey to the Marlins, right-hander Harrison Cooney to the Red Sox and second baseman Alex Yarbrough to the Marlins.

GM's bottom line
"We're making progress," Eppler said. "Things are becoming more evident of what we might be able to do or not be able to do."

Doug Miller is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.