With only one proven second baseman available in free agency, the trade market at the position could resemble a game of musical chairs,
Surely, he will take a seat somewhere this winter. But between first and third base, where the Angels have another need, Eppler has far more options.
"I like left-handed bats," Eppler said. "I have generally appreciated left-handed bats."
That’s as far as Eppler would range into his preferences on the first day of
Morrison, 30, is a left-handed hitter coming off a career year. Once rated highly as a prospect, he bounced between three teams in four years before he re-signed with Tampa Bay — for a modest $2.5 million — one week before pitchers and catchers reported to
He stands to quadruple that in annual salary on a contract spanning at least two years after hitting 38 home runs with a .868 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.
Morrison was particularly tough on right-handed pitching. His .905 OPS against right-handers was 37% better than the league average, according to one advanced metric.
The Angels have right-handed-hitting C.J.
"C.J. Cron is perfectly capable of taking the lion's share of first-base games for us," Eppler said. "We'll continue to keep an open mind."
The Angels are expected to keep their payroll at about $165 million. They already have committed about $135 million.
Earlier this month, Angels third-base coach
One Petit is not enough
The Angels plan to meet with representatives for free-agent reliever Yusmeiro Petit.
In February, Eppler plucked Petit out of obscurity and signed him to a minor league contract. The 32-year-old right-hander improbably became the club's most valuable pitcher and is now seeking a multiyear contract.
Petit led all major league relievers in innings (87 1/3) and made one spot start. The Angels value that flexibility, and Eppler is hoping to build a bullpen of relievers who are similarly versatile.
"You will see us try to grab two, maybe even three, multi-inning relief types," Eppler said.