The Yankees and Mets have shown interest in free agent infielder Gio Urshela, per Bryan Hoch of MLB.com, though the Angels and Marlins “have made better offers” to this point. The New York clubs were connected to Urshela at the end of last year, while the Marlins were connected to him yesterday. This is the first time that the Angels, for whom Urshela played in 2023, have been reported to be interested in a reunion.
The Halos acquired Urshela from the Twins in November of 2022, with Urshela one year away from free agency, sending prospect Alejandro Hidalgo the other way. Urshela had hit .290/.336/.463 over the previous four seasons between the Twins and Yankees, leading to a wRC+ of 119. That bat was enticing, as was his defense. With Anthony Rendon’s mounting injury history, Urshela gave the club some insurance at third base, while the club also hoped he could fill in at other positions as well.
Unfortunately, the acquisition didn’t work out too well for the Angels. Urshela bounced around to all four infield positions but got into just 62 games on the year before suffering a pelvic fracture in June. He didn’t require surgery but it ended his season nonetheless. Before that injury, he hit just two home runs and his slash line was down to .299/.329/.374, translating to a 92 wRC+.
Despite that disappointing campaign, the reported interest suggests that the club has some confidence in Urshela bouncing back to health and improving his performance. Once again, there may not be a simple everyday job available to him, but putting him back into a multi-positional role would make sense.
The Halos are set to have youngsters Zach Neto and Nolan Schanuel at shortstop and first base, respectively. Schanuel held his own in his brief major league debut but is still a risk with just 51 professional games under his belt, having just been drafted last summer. Neto also debuted last year and performed well defensively, but with subpar offense. Third base remains an annual question, with Rendon having suffered through another injury-marred season in 2023.
Brandon Drury and Luis Rengifo are on hand to cover second base and one of these other positions, but bolstering the group overall by bringing Urshela back would improve the overall outlook. The Angels have often been hobbled by injuries or underperformance exposing a lack of depth in recent years. Urshela’s presence would give them some cover for another Rendon injury or any sophomore slump from Neto or Schanuel, or another unforeseen development.
The Halos should have plenty of spending room, looking at their budget at Roster Resource. They are currently slated for a budget of $173MM and a competitive balance tax figure of $188MM. Last year, their payroll finished at $215MM and their CBT just under the $233MM line. Those figures were set to be even higher before they fell out of contention and started taking cost-cutting measures as the season was winding down.
Assuming they are willing to get back near those levels again in 2024, there’s lots of things they could do. At the start of the offseason, MLBTR predicted Urshela for a two-year deal worth $20MM. He may not be able to get that high since it has turned out to be a fairly tepid market for position players and he is still lingering on the market in February. But with Spring Training starting shortly and clubs reportedly having offers out to the infielder, he may be coming off the board soon.