Will This 1 Move Let the Angels Sign Anthony Rendon and Gerrit Cole?

The offseason is in full swing, with the movement in the free agency market under full scrutiny around the league. That has already seen one big name crossed off the list as ace pitcher Stephen Strasburg re-signed with the Washington Nationals a record-breaking seven-year, $245 million deal. However, there are a few other prominent star players still out there headlined by pitcher Gerrit Cole and third baseman Anthony Rendon.

The Los Angeles Angels are expected to be one of the more active teams in trying to make big splash moves to get back into the playoff mix next season. With that in mind, the Angels may have just made a move that could signal their desire to land both Cole and Rendon in free agency.

Angels are “all-in” this offseason

Following yet another disappointing season falling well short of the playoffs, Los Angeles has made it clear their intentions are to make significant changes to the team.

That began with the upheaval of manager Brad Ausmus after just one season and bringing in three-time Manager of the Year Joe Maddon to replace him. Since that signing, the Angels have continued the dialogue of being aggressive in revamping the team this offseason that is headlined by star Mike Trout, voicing his desire to do whatever it takes to help the organization move in that direction.

General manager Billy Eppler has also stated that he has the green light from owner Arte Moreno to spend this offseason to get that job done. The Angels have made a few minor moves over the last couple of weeks, but the one that they made on Tuesday afternoon may signal some big things to come.

Angels trade Zack Cozart to Giants

Giants third baseman Zack Cozart
The Angels’ decision to move Zach Cozart could signal several big moves ahead. | Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The one obvious area of need for the Angels heading into the offseason has been their lack of stability along their starting rotation. It’s an aspect that has been decimated by injuries and inconsistent play over the last couple of seasons, leading them to fall well short of contending for an even a wildcard playoff berth.

Attention towards pitching in free agency has been the Angels’ top priority, but things may have shifted a bit with their decision to trade third baseman Zack Cozart to the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday.

Los Angeles already had a plethora of financial flexibility before the move, but unloading Cozart’s remaining $12.67 million towards next season is a significant move. It brings more life to the idea that the Angels could be nearing some huge moves in free agency or the trade market.

Cole has been rumored to be their No.1 target for the last few months, but this move opens the door to the team potentially seriously pursuing adding Rendon. It also falls in line with Moreno’s recent comments that he loves how the All-Star third baseman plays. More importantly, it sets the table for the Angels to make some game-changing moves.

Other potential fallback options for Angels

In an ideal world for the Angels, it would see them make big-splash moves with the acquisitions of both Cole and Rendon. However, there is undoubtedly the possibility they could miss out on both in free agency.

Other viable options could be had this offseason for Los Angeles to take essential steps in the right direction. The Angels have also been rumored to be in on star third baseman Josh Donaldson, who is coming off a bounce-back year with the Atlanta Braves hitting 37 home runs with 97 RBIs and a .900 OPS.

Meanwhile, there are other pitchers, such as Hyun-Jin Ryu, Madison Bumgarner, and Dallas Keuchel. Another former Cy Young award winner in David Price is also being made available by the Boston Red Sox, who are hoping to shed salary this season. Even if the Angels miss out on either one or both Cole and Rendon, there are several other high-impact players still out there.