ANAHEIM -- Major League Baseball's offseason began Thursday morning, when 121 players officially became free agents. That indirectly signaled Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto with his opportunity to improve a team that led the Majors in wins during the regular season and then was swept in the American League Division Series by the upstart Royals, who ultimately suffered a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to the Giants in Game 7 of the World Series.
The Angels retained a big piece of their bullpen Thursday, picking up their $7 million option on closer Huston Street.
The Halos acquired Street in a July 19 trade with the Padres, and he pitched 28 games for them down the stretch, converting 17 of 19 save chances. Overall, the 31-year-old right-hander posted career bests with 41 saves and a 1.37 ERA in 59 1/3 innings, striking out 57 and walking 14.
After finishing the 2014 regular season with a 98-64 record -- the best record in baseball -- the Angels tallied 15 of MLB.com's Greatness in Baseball Yearly nominations, the most in the American League.
Major League Baseball's A-listers will take home 2014 GIBBY trophies -- the ultimate honors of the industry's awards season -- based on votes by media, front-office personnel, MLB alumni, fans at MLB.com and the Society for American Baseball Research.
Quinn Roberts is a reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less
It was the kind of link nobody wants to make, but one few could avoid.
On Sunday afternoon, when word spread of the tragic death of 22-year-old Cardinals prospect Oscar Taveras, many within the Angels' organization undoubtedly thought back to 2009, when their young pitcher, Nick Adenhart, was killed in a car accident of his own.
ANAHEIM -- Jerry Dipoto has a tough task on his hands: Keep the Angels competitive, with very little talent in the upper levels of their farm system and most of the payroll tied to long-term contracts for aging players. Dipoto, entering his fourth offseason as the Angels' general manager, must do it all without surpassing the luxury tax, and under a competitive owner with no desire to ever enter in a rebuild stage.
The challenge continues now, with the Angels coming off a 98-win regular season and three days removed from swift elimination by the Royals in the American League Division Series.
Third baseman Luis Jimenez, out of options and blocked in the Angels' system the last few years, was claimed off waivers by the Brewers on Monday.
Jimenez, 26, is a gregarious, high-energy right-handed hitter with a solid glove but an inconsistent bat. He appeared in 52 games with the Angels the last two years, batting .234 with seven RBIs. He also and batted .286/.321/.505 with 21 homers and 76 RBIs for Triple-A Salt Lake in 2014.
SAN FRANCISCO -- Mike Trout of the Angels and Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins were named the 2014 winners of the Hank Aaron Award, given annually to the most outstanding offensive performer in each league.
Commissioner Bud Selig made the presentation before Game 4 of the World Series on Saturday at AT&T Park.
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Make way for the next generation.
Several of the best prospects in baseball will collide on Saturday in the ninth annual Fall Stars Game, the yearly All-Star Game for the Arizona Fall League. This year's rosters feature 14 players on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list.
The way Kaleb Cowart's pro career began, everything pointed to a quick ascent to the big leagues as one of the top third base prospects in the game. But after that very successful first full season, things haven't gone nearly as smoothly for him.
The former first-round pick was once the top prospect in the Angels' organization and a Top 100 caliber player, one who hit .276/.358/.452 with 103 RBIs and reached the Class A Advanced California League at age 20 during that first year. He's now No. 4 on the organization's Top 20 list and has spent two years at Double-A, hitting a combined .222/.286/.312 in the process.
Angels first baseman Albert Pujols and right fielder Kole Calhoun were named Rawlings American League Gold Glove Award finalists on Thursday, deemed among the top three defenders at their respective positions by AL rivals and baseball analysts.
Major League managers and coaches -- voting only within their league and disallowed from selecting players from their own teams -- contributed 75 percent of the vote, with the sabermetric community making up the other 25 percent.
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Angels went into last year's offseason with a desire to acquire cost-controlled starting pitching, which they ultimately attained by using Mark Trumbo to land Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago. But they also coveted a steady veteran, and their first priority was to re-sign Jason Vargas, a guy they thought was coming back until he accepted a last-minute four-year, $32 million offer from the eventual American League-champion Royals on Nov. 21, 2013.
That guaranteed fourth year, something the Angels weren't willing to offer, played a major factor in Vargas' decision.
MESA, Ariz. - For the third time in as many days, the Mesa Solar Sox rode the bat of an Angels prospect to victory.
First, Cal Towey, the Angels' No. 17 prospect according to MLB.com, went 3-for-4 with a homer Tuesday. Then on Wednesday, Chad Hinshaw scored a pair of runs and reached base five times.
The Angels claimed catcher Jackson Williams off waivers from the Rockies on Wednesday. The Angels' 40-man roster is full, but Williams will be placed immediately on the 60-day disabled list because he's coming off knee surgery.
The 28-year-old Williams was originally selected by the Giants with the 43rd overall pick of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Oklahoma, where he spent a season catching Angels starter Garrett Richards.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A leadoff man's role is to get on base and set the table for the middle of the order, a task Angels prospect Chad Hinshaw excelled at as he led the Mesa Solar Sox to a 9-3 victory over the Scottsdale Scorpions on Wednesday.
"Today, I was just able to have a few quality at-bats and help the team by getting on," Hinshaw said.
Angels skipper Mike Scioscia was named American League Manager of the Year on Tuesday by Sporting News, which also named Matt Williams of the Nationals in the National League based on a panel of 22 fellow managers.
Scioscia edged out the Orioles' Buck Showalter, 6-5, for guiding the Angels to a Major League-best 98 wins before getting swept in the American League Division Series by a Royals team that reeled off eight consecutive postseason victories en route to the World Series.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Sometimes the best approach at the plate is to keep things simple.
Hitting is an art form and although it can be complex at times, Cal Towey, the No. 17 prospect in the Angels organization, is doing his best to simplify the process.
The Angels announced their 2015 Spring Training schedule, which will include 15 home games.
Training in Tempe, Ariz., for the 23rd straight season, the Angels' first game will be on March 5 against the Brewers at Tempe Diablo Stadium.
Quinn Roberts is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less
ANAHEIM -- Most pitchers, including Cory Rasmus earlier this season, insist there is no difference between pitching out of the bullpen and starting a game.
They say that they still have to attack hitters and throw strikes, and that they won't change their routine or the way they prepare. After five starts in September of the 2014 regular season, Rasmus now realizes the differences between being a relief pitcher and a rotation member.
Albert Pujols has bowed out of the "All-Star Series" in Japan that's slated for November, opting instead to spend that time with his family, a source said Tuesday.
In an August release, Pujols was listed alongside Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano, Dodgers center fielder Yasiel Puig and Orioles center fielder Adam Jones, highlighting a U.S. contingent that would play a five-game series against Japan's national team.
ANAHEIM -- As Gordon Beckham packed up his locker two weeks ago, he had a handful of questions: Do you have an empty box? What do I do with these black shoes? Can you mail this to someone? But one stood out from the others: What do I do with this stuff if I'm not back here next season?
Beckham, 28, is arbitration-eligible this offseason and potentially could be non-tendered by the Angels in December, less than four months after the club traded for him. Beckham was dealt from the White Sox for a player to be named or cash in late August.
ANAHEIM -- His team had just been swept by the Royals in the American League Division Series, a triumphant return to the playoffs ending after it barely began, and Angels manager Mike Scioscia wanted to make sure that three-game sample size wasn't the lasting legacy of this club.
"As disappointing as the series was and is right now with us, those guys in that clubhouse had a terrific season," Scioscia said at the dais after the Game 3 loss on Sunday night. "They put everything aside. They played banged up. At times we didn't have quite the depth we wanted to, and guys would step up and want the ball more in the 'pen, or guys went out there and played 90 straight games because they knew how important it was. … They played hard all season, and we had a rough three games."
ANAHEIM -- The Angels claimed outfielders Roger Kieschnick and Alfredo Marte from the D-backs on Tuesday, designating outfielder Brennan Boesch and catcher John Buck in order to create room on the 40-man roster.
Kieschnick, who turns 28 in January, bats left-handed and has mostly played right field since the Giants took him in the third round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft. Kieschnick played in 63 Major League games for the Giants and D-backs the last two years, posting a .200/.265/.248 slash line. He's a .273/.329/.481 hitter for his Minor League career, and hit 15 homers in the Pacific Coast League this past season.
ANAHEIM -- On Monday, John McDonald took a red-eye flight back home to Boston to be with his family.
After that, whatever happens, happens.
KANSAS CITY -- In the wake of the a season-ending, 8-3 loss late Sunday night, and in the middle of a stunned, star-laden visitors' clubhouse that was anticipating a two-night stay, Albert Pujols was asked a variety of questions about the Royals' game-changing defense, his lineup's head-scratching struggles and the Angels' collapse in Game 3 of the American League Division Series.
Finally the veteran first baseman looked up, cracked a smile and said, "You know what, it wasn't meant to be."
Over its 23-year history, the Arizona Fall League has developed a reputation as a finishing school for baseball's top prospects. This year, once again, many of the game's best young players will gather in the desert, hoping to prove themselves in the same league that helped catapult Derek Jeter, Dustin Pedroia and Mike Trout to stardom.
When the AFL opens play Tuesday, the concentration of talent will again be readily apparent. Two of the three Opening Day games feature premium pitching matchups, and the third game is highlighted by two of the best shortstops in the Minor Leagues.
KANSAS CITY -- The Angels' first-place season came to an abrupt end, with an American League Division Series sweep at the hands of a young, hungry Royals team that outperformed them in every facet of the game.
That three-game stretch, however, wasn't enough to make general manager Jerry Dipoto feel as though drastic changes are necessary this offseason.
KANSAS CITY -- Mike Trout's signature postseason moment was short-lived.
It came in the first inning of Game 3 on Sunday, when the superstar center fielder took James Shields deep to left-center field for a solo home run, giving the Angels their first and final lead of this American League Division Series. The next half-inning, the Royals scored three runs, kept adding on and eventually eliminated the Angels with an 8-3 win.
KANSAS CITY -- The Angels had seen this show before. As spectacular as it was in living color, they didn't care much for it.
Lorenzo Cain, in back-to-back fifth-inning at-bats with two runners on in Sunday night's Game 3 of American League Division Series, stole hits from Albert Pujols and Howie Kendrick in center field with plays that will be replayed on telecasts for decades in the "Show Me State" of Missouri.