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Angels GM Perry Minasian believes Tyler Anderson can continue success without a shift behind him

Pitching to contact in 2023 isn’t going to be quite the same as it has been recently.

That’s why the Angels had to do some extra homework before committing to a three-year, $39 million contract with left-hander Tyler Anderson.

On the day the Angels made the deal official, General Manager Perry Minasian conceded that the ban on defensive shifts, which begins next season, makes the future somewhat uncertain for pitchers like Anderson. Converting grounders into outs is more difficult if teams are limited from using optimal positioning.

“That was something we really concentrated on,” Minasian said. “You never know till he pitches.”

Anderson doesn’t throw hard and he doesn’t get many strikeouts, relative to other top major league pitchers.

His success during his breakthrough 2022 season, when he posted a 2.57 ERA with the Dodgers, was largely because he was able to induce soft contact.

Anderson ranked in the 98th percentile in the majors in terms of average exit velocity allowed, according to StatCast. In 2021, when he had a 4.53 ERA with the San Francisco Giants and Pittsburgh Pirates, he still ranked in the 84th percentile.

Minasian believes that will still work, even if the fielders have to cover a little more ground to get to those balls.

“He was one of the better, if not the best, starters at limiting hard contact in baseball last year,” Minasian said. “With his repertoire, we think that’s going to maintain. He should still be really effective when it comes to limiting hard contact and allowing our defense to make plays. Obviously, when the ball is hit on the softer side, you have more time to make plays and the defense is usually better.”

The Angels will ask Anderson to pitch toward the top of a rotation that also includes Shohei Ohtani, Patrick Sandoval, Reid Detmers and José Suarez. All except for Ohtani are lefties.

“Obviously, we’re looking for quality pitching, whether you’re a lefty or a righty,” Minasian said. “We happen to have three really young left-handed starters that we feel like took major steps last year and hopefully continue to do that. To add another lefty to that mix, I think it’s more about the person and the player than if you’re a lefty or a righty.”

Anderson, who will make $13 million in each of the next three seasons, gives the Angels a pitcher who has shown an ability to eat innings. Minasian also likes that he brings “an edge,” which can make him a good influence on the younger pitchers.

In order to sign him, the Angels will surrender a second-round pick in next year’s draft. Minasian said giving up a small piece of the future was a risk the Angels were willing to take to compete now.

“That’s where we are as an organization,” he said. “We’re trying to put a competitive club on the field.”

To that end, the Angels still have plenty of work to do. They were 73-89 last season. Anderson potentially provides an upgrade from Noah Syndergaard, but the Angels still need a sixth starter to compete with the young pitchers they have.

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