The Los Angeles Angels acquired veteran infielder Gio Urshela from the Minnesota Twins on Friday, a move that helps the team’s desire to add more major league-quality depth to its roster. The Twins received 19-year-old starting pitcher Alejandro Hidalgo in exchange.
Urshela’s primary position is third base, where the Angels have the oft-injured Anthony Rendon signed for four more years at $152 million. Urshela provides additional cover there and can also help out at first base and, to a lesser extent, the middle-infield positions. The Angels were also drawn to Urshela’s contact-heavy offensive approach after leading the major leagues in strikeouts last season.
“We look at this player as an everyday player that can move around, play a lot of different spots,” Angels general manager Perry Minasian said, adding that the team might experiment with Urshela in the outfield during spring training. “I think we saw last year where there were certain times when it was challenging. We had multiple injuries on the infield, and we didn’t necessarily love the options we were putting out there on a daily basis. This just adds to that mix. It’s another quality player.”
Urshela, scheduled to become a free agent after the 2023 season, spent three years with the New York Yankees from 2019 to 2021, during which he slashed .292/.335/.480 with 41 home runs and 63 doubles in 291 games. He moved to the Twins alongside catcher Gary Sanchez in the March trade that sent Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa to the Bronx, then hit .285/.338/.429 with 13 homers and 27 doubles, contributing 2.4 FanGraphs wins above replacement.
The Angels, currently for sale by longtime owner Arte Moreno, are still in search of their first postseason berth since 2014 and won’t get there without more quality talent throughout their 40-man roster. They received legendary two-way seasons from Shohei Ohtani the past two years but struggled to absorb prolonged injuries to Rendon and Mike Trout, the latter of whom has been limited to 155 games the past two years. Urshela, a right-handed hitter, can form something of a platoon with left-handed-hitting first baseman Jared Walsh but can also spell David Fletcher at second base. Walsh (corner outfield) and Fletcher (shortstop) have shown versatility at other positions.
The Angels recently signed starting pitcher Tyler Anderson to a three-year, $39 million contract, but they still have needs throughout their roster — primarily at shortstop, in the outfield and throughout their pitching staff.
“We’re not done by any stretch,” Minasian said. “There’s still work to be done. We need to improve the outfield — we know that. We need to improve the infield — we know that. The pitching staff — to add to that would be a nice thing to do. We’ll continue to talk to free agents, explore the trade markets, see what happens.”