Offseason Outlook: Los Angeles Angels

The Angels will pursue starting pitchers and relievers in the offseason ahead.

Guaranteed Contracts

Arbitration Eligible Players (estimated salaries)

Contract Options

  • Dan Haren, SP: $15.5MM club option with a $3.5MM buyout
  • Ervin Santana, SP: $13MM club option with a $1MM buyout

Free Agents

The Angels are expected to make significant changes to a team that fell short of expectations in 2012. While it'd be hard to match the kind of impact additions they acquired a year ago, GM Jerry Dipoto recently indicated to Mike DiGiovanna of Los Angeles Times that the Angels will be able to spend in the offseason ahead. "We've never been short of resources," the GM said.

Mike Trout - Angels (PW)

Zack Greinke will hit free agency as the top starting pitcher available. Whoever signs the right-hander will presumably complete a deal after he has listened to offers from other clubs. He didn’t wait this long and turn down a nine-figure contract only to pass on free agency with weeks remaining before his best chance for a major payday. The Angels should bid on Greinke, an elite pitcher in his prime. They have the need and the resources, so spending in excess of $110MM would be justified.

The Angels are expected to decline club options for starters Dan Haren and Ervin Santana. Haren had a mediocre season, and won't be retained for $15.5MM. That shouldn't stop the Angels from making him a $13.3MM qualifying offer in my view. Extending a qualifying offer would lead to one of two desirable outcomes: Haren returns on a one-year deal or he departs, netting the Angels a compensatory draft choice in 2013.

Santana’s option will also be declined following a season in which his ERA climbed over 5.00 and his fastball velocity dropped. He won’t get a one-year qualifying offer from the Angels — it’d be an excessive commitment. Even if the Angels sign Greinke, they’ll be expected to seek a back-of-the-rotation option to complement Garrett Richards and Jerome Williams. Dipoto will be able to address this need later in the offseason, when potential bargains exist in free agency.

While Torii Hunter had a tremendous season, there are signs that his production could fade in the relatively near future. Hunter led the American League in batting average on balls in play this past season, posting a career high mark of .389. That's not sustainable for anyone, let alone a 37-year-old with diminishing speed. Furthermore, Hunter's isolated power dipped for the third consecutive season. It must also be noted that at some point Hunter’s defensive skills will decline. If the Angels want to re-sign Hunter for something like two years and $20MM, they should go for it. He’s still a good player. But if it takes a longer term contract or significantly more dollars it’d make sense for the Angels to let him go. Even large market teams must be discerning with their money.

This brings us to Vernon Wells, the 33-year-old outfielder with two years and $42MM remaining on his contract. Though the Angels would reportedly like to trade Wells, he has limited trade value after a season in which he posted a .230/.279/.403 batting line and hit 11 home runs. Unless the Angels work out a deal involving a comparable bad contract or absorb $30MM-plus of Wells' contract, he's not going anywhere.

It’s worth discussing the contract status of another Angels outfielder, even if he just completed his rookie season. Mike Trout might be viewed as an extension candidate after an extraordinary debut performance. While I understand the urge to lock Trout up, the Angels should be patient. The only players who compare to Trout at this point are Hall of Fame caliber talents, which means he’d be justified in demanding a historic financial commitment. If the Angels wait a year and Trout repeats his performance, they can pursue an extension at that point with the knowledge that a discount wasn’t attainable. But if Trout’s not quite as dominant in 2013, the Angels might be able to avoid paying him an unprecedented amount.

Though Alberto Callaspo will likely return to the Angels through the arbitration process, the Angels could seek upgrades at third base. There’s not a whole lot out there now, either in trades or free agency. Dipoto should keep tabs on trade candidates in case someone like David Wright or Chase Headley becomes available. Alex Rodriguez, another potentially available star, wouldn’t be a fit in Anaheim unless the Yankees are taking on a significant majority of the $114MM remaining on the 37-year-old’s contract.

The Angels got an early start on the offseason this month, signing Chris Iannetta to a three-year extension. It seems likely that other prospective free agents including Maicer Izturis, LaTroy Hawkins and Jason Isringhausen will move on this winter.

Dipoto will be seeking bullpen help in the months to come. He has said he doesn’t intend to pay a premium for relievers given the volatility of relief performances from year to year. Rafael Soriano might tempt the Angels if he opts out of his contract with the Yankees, yet a major free agent deal seems unlikely. Perhaps trade candidates such as Chris Perez and Joel Hanrahan will appeal to the GM instead. Alternatively, he could wait and obtain an affordable middle reliever or two in January or February.

The team's arbitration class could shrink to just three players if Williams gets non-tendered this winter. The remaining trio of Callaspo, Kevin Jepsen and Kendrys Morales shouldn't cost much more than $10MM in total and doesn't include any obvious extension candidates.

There's seemingly no chance the Angels will generate as much buzz as they did last winter. But Dipoto's roster already has enough star power that he doesn't need to make headlines for the offseason to be considered a success. He needs pitching and at this point that seems like an attainable goal.

Photo courtesy of US Presswire.

46 Responses to Offseason Outlook: Los Angeles Angels Leave a Reply

  1. Scott Brewer 3 years ago

    I dont agree with this writer at all on this column. Why would the Angels Decline the option on Dan Haren pay him $3.5 million buyout for declining his option, and then offer him a 1 yr. $13.3 million bid which Dan would most definitely take. This would mean the Angels just cost themselves $1.3 million. So instead of paying Dan his $15.5 million if team option is exercised Angels would be paying him $16.8 million in 2013′.

    • dc21892 3 years ago

      Why would he definitely take that qualifying offer? There are plenty of teams that need a guy like Haren and could potentially offer more in terms of dollars in years. I can’t see him getting more than 2 years guaranteed though, but the Angels want Grenkie back and to do so means letting Haren and Santana go.

      • dc21892 3 years ago

        And years*

        • lakersdodgersyankees4life 3 years ago

          because his back has been going out for the last few years and it likely he’ll get 1/8M offers, not 1/16M

          • vtadave 3 years ago

            Given the scarcity of starters out there, I would expect he’d easily get offers in the 3/36 range.

          • lakersdodgersyankees4life 3 years ago

            I don’t this market is that bad. Greinke is at the top, but there is also Peavy, Jackson, Kuroda, McCarthy, etc that I would take over Haren. Giving Haren multiple years is very risky because he is not only older than most of those guys, but he has a chronic issue that is not going to get better with age.

          • dc21892 3 years ago

            3/36 is a stretch but in terms of incentives and whatever else on a one year deal with maybe a 2nd year option he will most likely be right around the 16M for next year.

    • hefe300 3 years ago

      I’m not sure if he’d definitely take it or not, but If having Haren back on a 1 year deal is a “desirable outcome” as the author states, then why not just pick up the option and save $1.3 million?

    • Tom5467 3 years ago

      Scott…I was just going to say the same thing. Maybe he’s using Romneys math, unless there is some reason why offering the qualifying offer and Haren accepting somehow eliminates the buyout.

  2. metsfan08 3 years ago

    Jon niese for mark trumbo?

    • rkmarx 3 years ago

      Your name says it all.

    • MB923 3 years ago

      How about Jason Bay for Mike Trout while we’re at it.

    • Baseball Lifer 3 years ago

      As a unbiased fan of neither team, i would love this deal for the Angels. What is not to like about Niese. 13-9 with a 3.40 for a crappy Met’s team… Let’s not forget about Trumbo’s season splits. Trumbo had a great first half of the season, and the flat out horrible after the all-star break (was even benched in favor of Vernon Wells). This is a no-brainer for me, espically given the current log jam the halos have at 1B, DH, Corner OF.

      • Ta-Kuan Fuan 3 years ago

        His slide came after a rib injury that occurred on July 22nd I believe.

        • Think it was the 19th but yes it is documented that after the rib injury his numbers fell off… Pre injury he was having an MVP caliber season.

          • Baseball Lifer 3 years ago

            First off, I do not recall hearing about some sort of rib injury. That being said something obviously happened. From the 19th on, Trumbo did struggle (6 HR’s and 82 K) the rest of the season. Average dropped 37 points, SLG dropped 131 points, and OBP dropped 30 points….So i ask, with the corner OF and DH depth that the Angels had at the time, why was the DL not a option?

    • Konrad Verloc 3 years ago

      Why? Why would LA do that?

  3. 2 years 20 million is a little excessive for a 37 year old who is blocking one of the best center fielders in the game(Peter Bourjos). Last year was a nice season from a 37 year old playing in a contract year, who also took a few weeks off early in the season to deal with family issues. Torii came back energized and ready to flourish hitting in between Trout and Pujols. I respect what Torii did last year but to expect him to do it again and to pay him $20mil would be foolish.

    • SoCalAngelsFan75 3 years ago

      I agree. Max I would go is $15/2 and that’s pushing it. Although, Torii is hungry for a ring. Not saying he could repeat his 2012 output but he’ll definately try if it means getting a ring.

    • lakersdodgersyankees4life 3 years ago

      Bourjos is one of the best CFs in the game? Really?

      • vtadave 3 years ago

        From a defensive perspective. He just can’t hit.

      • Ta-Kuan Fuan 3 years ago

        Defensively, yes.

        • lakersdodgersyankees4life 3 years ago

          to you and @vtadave:disqus. To be one of the best CFs in the game, you have to be better than a defensive sub. CF is one of the most important positions on the field, and there are more guys who make up being less defensively gifted than Bourjos with their bat

      • You guys are forgetting that in his only full season in 2011 he hit double digits in Doubles, Triples and HR’s stole 22 bases and had an OPS+ of 116 and a WAR of 4.8 which was the 15th highest in the AL amongst position players… Yes PB struggled in limited action this last season. Defensively though he is a better center fielder than Trout and is the defensive equal of any CF out there. Ever wonder why Trout moves to left field when Bourjos is in?

        • lakersdodgersyankees4life 3 years ago

          He a career 247 hitter, with a 700 OPS, and 97 OPS+. basically replacement level. Looking his minor league stats- before he got to AAA hitter haven, his OPS was consistently in the 700s, with the exception of rookie ball. He’s fast and a very good defender, but isn’t really a starter, let alone one of the best.

          • Jhary Kenshura 3 years ago

            Well, if we take it as center fielder only and not a hitter, then yes he would be….but he’s Joe Nobody as a hitter.

          • lakersdodgersyankees4life 3 years ago

            I’m sorry, but to be the best at a position you have to be more than a defensive sub.

    • cmartintwo 3 years ago

      I would offer him 5 mil a year for 2 years see how serious he is about staying. He has made his money 5 mil is nothing to sneeze at. Work him into being a player coach.

  4. Thurman8er 3 years ago

    The X-factor with Torii is his relationship with Trout. Torii can still play well enough to earn a $10 million paycheck, but the teaching he can offer plus the comfort he gives Trout are hard to put in numbers.

    • rkmarx 3 years ago

      These guys are Major League ball players. Trout doesn’t need Daddy comforting him and playing next to him in order to succeed.

    • Konrad Verloc 3 years ago

      I wouldn’t mind seeing Hunter in Texas on a 2 year deal, since Hamilton will certainly go elsewhere.

      • Marktown 3 years ago

        You’re in the minority there.

        • Konrad Verloc 3 years ago

          They could do worse. I’d rather them hold onto Olt and Profar and sign Hunter than see them trade Olt and/or Profar for someone like Upton, for instance. And as far as what the minority or majority thinks, I don’t really care what Rangers fans think – my experience with them has shown me that they don’t tend to be very open-minded people.

  5. SoCalAngelsFan75 3 years ago

    Here’s what I would like to see happen:

    1) Re-sign Greinke.
    2) Pick up Haren’s option. Think he deserves a chance since he played injured most of 2012 and has been solid when healthy.
    3) Decline Santana’s option. Too inconsistent for that kind of money.
    4) Re-sign Hunter on a 1 year (2 max) team-friendly contract. If he wants more years or lots of money then let him walk.
    5) Eat the bulk of Wells’ contract and trade him for anything that might remotely improve the bullpen.
    6) Trade Morales for a proven bullpen piece
    7) As a last resort, if both Hunter and Wells are back then trade Borjous for bullpen help.
    8) Finally, DO NOT trade for A-Rod. Exception scenario would be if the Yanks take Wells AND eat the difference. Angels could play A-Rod for 2 years at 3rd until Cowart is ready and then release A-Rod. Don’t think the Yanks would eat $72M, would they?

    • East Coast Bias 3 years ago

      Not for Wells.

    • Tom5467 3 years ago

      My list is pretty much the same, except I’d like to see Morales stay since his arbitration should favor the Angels, and they need the power from the left side. That being said….nice list.

    • I would re-sign him only to use as trad bait for a reliever. Hes worth 8-11 mil/yr depending on the bidder. Halos eat some of the contract but they have what trwma need which is starting pitching. Have to sign torri 2yrs max.- he was phenomenonal in the 2hole. And angels must eat wells contract and use bourjos more. Hopefully trumbo can learn 3rd but angels must improve 3B.with wilso picked up, id recoup mathis. Improve defense n can help call games. With the. Angels offense improved Mathis can help the pitching as a backup.

  6. ettin 3 years ago

    I disagree with the sentiment on Jerome Williams. FanGraphs has his 2012 xFIP and SIERA at 3.84 and 3.69 respectively with a 53% ground ball rate. I think for about 1.6-1.7 million, through arbitration, would be well worth the Angels reinvesting in Jerome. In the worst case scenario you can still keep him in long relief and as reserve pitching depth.

  7. Nick Sossamon 3 years ago

    I think we have to pick up either one of Santana or Haren, if not both. If we don’t hold on to either of these guys our rotation could potentially be very mediocre very quickly. Yeah, Santana is incredibly inconsistent and a headcase, but he still has good enough stuff when he’s on and I think we could bring him back on a restructured deal. Haren seems more done to me; his velocity is consistently declining every year and I think his innings are finally taking a toll. Back problems usually don’t just disappear after they plague a pitcher for an entire season. He looked extremely hittable pretty much all of last year.

    If we let both go though and don’t manage to snag Greinke, this is our rotation:

    Weaver, Wilson, Richards, Williams, ?

    That makes me fairly uncomfortable going into a season. I’m sure we’d sign a FA starter or two if that happened, but with our lack of depth in the system with pitching we’d be walking a thin tightrope hoping that nobody goes down.

    • odaboda 3 years ago

      Santana can’t and won’t be kept. The team is built to win now and can’t be subject to constant implosions like a Jonathan Sanchez. Let him ‘find himself’ on the Royals, Indians, etc.

  8. AdrianYo 3 years ago

    A-Rod for Wells is not very far-fetched. If the Yankees eat about $60M, A-Rod would cost ~11M/year. Add that to the alleviation of Wells’ contract, and the numbers make sense for the Angels. He would play 3B for a couple years, then transition to DH when we let Kendrys walk after next year. It works for the Yankees as well because it is apparent A-Rod is all but gone, and they get an OF with potential to do well. With Swisher and Ichiro both gone, Wells would solve one of those issues.

    • SoCalAngelsFan75 3 years ago

      I sort of agree (see my other post in the thread). However, the thought of cheering for A-Rod makes me sick to my stomach.

    • crashcameron 3 years ago

      it is far-fetched

    • Matt Grieve 3 years ago

      I can’t remember the last time I saw potential and Vernon Wells in the same sentence.

  9. Brian Martin 3 years ago

    The Angels have multiple things to solve. Just 2 or 3 more wins would have put us in the play offs. These are some of the things that would have resulted in more wins

    1 They need to be energetic. It starts with the manager.

    2 They need to let the pitchers go longer in the games if there effective ex. Greinke

    3 They need to stop the contact play.

    4 They need to stop partying all the time. I know an Angel and he says they party all the time and the pitchers smoke dope.

    5 What ever happen to bunting. Every player should be able to do it. Even Pujols.

    6 Every game is a must win. Loses in April are just as costly as in September.

    7 Batters need to wait to get pitches to drive, instead of swinging at pitches that result in weak grounders to short or 3rd

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