ANAHEIM — The Angels have been looking to add to their overall depth this offseason and they did just that on Friday, acquiring third baseman Gio Urshela from the Twins in exchange for Minor League right-hander Alejandro Hidalgo.
Urshela, 31, gives the Angels a veteran third baseman who also has experience at shortstop and first base. He’s coming off a solid year, batting .285/.338/.429 with 13 home runs, 27 doubles and 64 RBIs in a career-high 144 games with Minnesota last season. General manager Perry Minasian said he sees Urshela as an everyday player who can split his time between third base and first base, while seeing occasional time at shortstop, second base or in the outfield.
The angels receive: 3B Gio Urshela
The twins receive: HRP Alejandro Hidalgo
“You’ve heard me say that a lot in the offseason, but it’s about depth and protection in a lot of different places,” Minasian said. “He’s a really good player. He can do a lot of different things. Obviously his natural position is third base, but you feel like he can play first. He can step in at second and can even fill in at short So just the ability to add a player of that caliber to our roster of infielders that we currently have, we felt was the right move.
The Angels were hurt by a lack of quality depth last year, as they couldn’t resist injuries to third baseman Anthony Rendon and outfielder Mike Trout. First baseman Jared Walsh also suffered from thoracic outlet syndrome all season, which limited his output and led to season-ending surgery in early September. Urshela can now move into the infield and fill that need, while also playing third when needed for Rendon, who has a history of injuries since joining the club in 2020.
Urshela, from Colombia, is entering his final year as a referee and was an untendered candidate as he is expected to be raised next season. He earned $6.55 million last year and is expected to earn over $9 million this season. But it’s another indication the Angels are ready to move on this offseason after also signing left-hander Tyler Anderson to a three-year, $39 million deal earlier this week.
Urshela also knows manager Phil Nevin and hitting coaches Marcus Thames and Phil Plantier from his time with the Yankees from 2019-21. Minasian said he’s heard nothing but good things from the coaching staff about Urshela, who is also seen as a solid clubhouse presence.
“There’s history there,” Minasian said. “When you have a manager and a batting coach who’s been around it, there’s a huge level of comfort when you’re in that chair. It’s had a huge impact on pulling the trigger on that one. this.
Urshela is known for his above-average defense, but his addition also helps the Angels add contact to their roster. The club led the Majors in strikeouts last year, while Urshela has made progress in that regard, reducing his strikeout rate from 24.7% to 17.4% and making contact on 81% of his swings. For context, the Angels have knocked out 25.7% of their home plate appearances with a 75.1% contact rate.
“One of the things we’ve talked about is that we’ve led the league in strikeouts, and we’re trying to find more contacts,” Minasian said. “He’s a player who has the ability to put the ball in play and produce and show versatility.”
To make room for Urshela on the 40-man roster, left-hander Jhonathan Diaz was picked up for an assignment. Diaz, 26, posted a 3.49 ERA in 28 1/3 innings the past two seasons with the Angels.
Hidalgo, meanwhile, made 10 starts for Single-A Inland Empire last year, posting a 4.62 ERA with 58 strikeouts in 39 innings. The 19-year-old, who was ranked the Angels’ No. 22 prospect by MLB Pipeline, has a career 4.64 ERA in two underage seasons, with 89 strikeouts in 66 innings.
“It’s always difficult to trade young players, especially a good guy with a good arm and a bright future,” Minasian said. “But at the end of the day, you have to give in order to receive. I think he’s going to have a great career, and I hope this trade will work out for both parties.
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