SAN DIEGO — The past five years, the average win total needed to earn a playoff spot in the American League has rounded out to 91. For the Los Angeles Angels, striving to launch themselves into legitimate contention as quickly as possible, that means finding 19 more wins in one offseason. Teams have done it — 29 of them since 2000, most recently the 2019 Minnesota Twins and the 2018 Oakland Athletics — but never easily.
“I think it’s going to require risk,” Angels general manager Billy Eppler said. “So you have to be prepared to take risks, be willing to kind of pursue both marketplaces, free agency and trade, in order to do that.”
The Angels’ best chance to make up the difference might have vanished Tuesday, when Gerrit Cole joined the New York Yankees on a nine-year, $324 million contract. Now the Angels have a lot of money to spend and no obvious place to spend it. They seemingly began Tuesday with enough payroll space to give Cole a massive contract — though perhaps not that massive. Then they sent the 15th overall pick in the 2019 draft to the San Francisco Giants so they could free themselves of the nearly $13 million they still owed Zack Cozart.
The Angels are…