April 16, 2024

The Angels made little noise in terms of player acquisitions over three days at the winter meetings. They said nothing substantive about where they stood with Shohei Ohtani. They left Tennessee with the promise of further deals to come.

“As we sit here today, I feel like there’s ways to improve that are closer today than they were yesterday,” general manager Perry Minasian told reporters from his suite Wednesday morning, his final scrum of the meetings. “So we’ll see what happens the rest of the way.”

On Tuesday, the Angels were reported to be in agreement on a deal to bring back veteran reliever Luis García, for one year and $4.25 million. On Wednesday evening, they had an agreement on a deal with reliever Adam Cimber, a person with knowledge of the agreement but unauthorized to speak about it said. Cimber’s deal is for a reported $1.65 million for one year.

The only additions confirmed by the team over the course of the meetings: two minor league players picked up in the Rule 5 Draft, first baseman Eric Wagaman and right-handed relief pitcher Ryan Miller; and two players signed to minor league deals with invites to major league spring training, outfielder/designated hitter Willie Calhoun and right-handed reliever Travis MacGregor.

Other confirmed signings, before the start of the meetings: left-handed reliever Adam Kolarek, on a one-year $900,000-major league deal; and two others signed to minor league deals with invites to spring training, right-handed pitcher Carson Fullmer, who was with the Angels organization in 2023, and infielder Charles LeBlanc.

So far, the Angels’ offseason acquisitions seem to be shaping up to look like previous offseasons in terms of type of talent, potential and price.

The New York Yankees' Willie Calhoun hits a home run against the Chicago White Sox on June 8 in New York.

The Angels signed Willie Calhoun to a minor league contract with an invitation to training camp. Calhoun played for the New York Yankees last season.

(Frank Franklin II / Associated Press)

For example, García, who is 36 and is an 11-season veteran, and Cimber, who is 33 and is a six-year veteran, both had down years in 2023, but have had success in previous seasons. Cimber was limited to 22 games in 2023 because of injuries. MacGregor, 26, has never played in the big leagues and Calhoun, 29, has played parts of seven seasons with the Texas Rangers, San Francisco Giants and, most recently, the New York Yankees.

The slow roll on acquiring players — compared with how quickly they acquired new major league talent in the 2022 offseason — can be attributed to their lingering Ohtani-shaped question mark.

It was believed that Ohtani will command a record-setting deal with whatever team he signs with. Any team that wants Ohtani has to consider what the effect of his contract will be on the rest of its payroll.

Owner Arte Moreno’s Angels have a history of splurging on one or two players, then being creative, and at times frugal, with the rest of their budget to remain under the luxury tax threshold.

This offseason, the Angels have been entertaining the trade market, in particular, at least based on the emphasis of “the trade market” in comments Minasian has made over the last few days. But they have also inquired about several free agents, according to a person with knowledge of their free-agent searches but unauthorized to speak publicly about them.

Knowing whether they will be paying Ohtani for a longer period of time will have big implications on the Angels’ payroll. And until Ohtani makes his decision, the Angels will have to continue considering their limitations if they want to stay under the first tax threshold.

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