The Angels are searching for offense in a shift-free environment in 2023

LAS VEGAS — After finishing 25th in the majors in runs in 2022, the Angels are looking for more offensive this winter.

And they’re doing it in an environment in which rule changes may alter the outlooks for a handful of hitters on the market.

Teams will no longer be able to shift three infielders to one side of second base, which will certainly mean more hits for some pull hitters.

How many more is the question that Angels general manager Perry Minasian and his counterparts are trying to assess this winter.

“Every team is trying to do homework and figure it out,” Minasian said on Wednesday at the GM Meetings. “You come up with educated guesses. But until it happens, until you have actual proof, you don’t know. Is it a 20-point increase in OPS? It’s it a 5-point increase in average. Is it a 15-point increase in average? I have no idea.

“I think we have thoughts. I think it depends on different hitters, but I don’t think somebody’s going to go from hitting to .220 to .320 because there’s no shift.”

Joey Gallo is one of the most oft-mentioned players when it comes to shifts. The left-handed slugger faced a shift in 90 percent of his plate appearances in 2022. Gallo is a career .199 hitter with a .794 OPS.

Gallo, who turns 29 this month, plays first and outfield, so he could be a fit on the Angels’ roster.

Strikeouts are certainly one of the main reasons that his average is so low, but he’s also hit .257 on balls in play, which is well below the major league average of .296. Many of those outs figure to turn into hits without the shift.

“There’s been a lot out there about the impact of hits lost and things like that,” said San Francisco Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi. “I think the guys who are at the top of those lists are feeling pretty good about themselves going into ’23. We’ll just have to see how it plays out.”

Zaidi and other executives agreed with Minasian, however, that it’s not going to be that easy to predict exactly how much certain hitters will improve without the shift.

“I just don’t think we know,” said Atlanta Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos. “We’ll talk about it. We’ll look at it. But I don’t think we can make definitive statements.”

There will be other impacts on defense and on the mound. Teams will no longer be able to hide weak fielding players at second base. Also, ground ball pitchers who don’t rack up a lot of strikeouts may not be as successful as they were.


Longtime agent Scott Boras said the Angels’ uncertain ownership situation would not be an obstacle for his clients when considering an offer from the team.

Although it can be “more difficult for everybody involved” when a team is in the process of being sold, Boras said, it shouldn’t be much an issue in this case.

“When you’re talking about a major market teams up for sale, you have to think who the qualified purchaser is,” Boras said. “This is not someone looking for the Walmart of teams. This is someone who’s going to have to spend billions and billions of dollars to buy the Disneyland of baseball. When you go to do that, chances are the multi billionaire is not going to want to have a team that is anything but considered elite, and to the level of what his accomplishments in life have been.

“So I’ve found that major market clubs that are sold usually hit the ground running and are highly competitive. And that’s certainly what I tell players.”

If the Angels chose to spend the money, they could certainly use one of Boras’ premium clients, specifically shortstops Carlos Correa or Xander Bogaerts or starting pitchers Carlos Rodon or Taijuan Walker.


Griffin Canning, who missed all of the 2022 season with a back injury, was cleared to resume throwing after an examination on Wednesday.

Canning, 26, had a 3.99 ERA and won the Gold Glove in the shortened 2020 season, but he struggled in the first half of 2021 and has been injured for a season and a half.

Canning is arbitration eligible this winter. He will still be able to be optioned in 2023.


A day after Shohei Ohtani’s agent, Nez Balelo, said that his client would be open to a discussion about pitching in a five-man rotation, Minasian said the Angels are still planning to go with six.

While Minasian left the possibility open, he suggested it’s too risky of a proposition after Ohtani has pitched so well in a six-man rotation for two years. The Angels other young starters also fared well in a six-man rotation in 2022.

“There’s so much unknown,” Minasian said. “Somebody’s that productive, so it’s a little scary trying to fit (Ohtani) into a five. It’s something we’ll talk about throughout the course of the offseason. Maybe it changes. The best part is we’re not starting today.”

Share the Post:

Related Posts