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APRIL 14: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that Hamilton’s contract does indeed contain language that would allow the Angels to terminate or convert the deal if he is physically/mentally incapacitated due to alcohol and drugs (specifically, if he is less than “first-class condition”), though the clause is not unique to his deal. However, Hamilton and the union would still be able to argue that the JDA supersedes contractual clauses of this nature, so it remains unclear if the Angels would be able to take any form of action. If they were eventually able to attempt such action, they can only target Hamilton’s $30MM salaries in 2016 and 2017, as his 2015 salary of $23MM became fully guaranteed on Opening Day.
APRIL 10, 9:44pm: The union has issued a statement rejecting the idea that the Angels would have any basis to pursue Hamilton (h/t Ken Rosenthal):
“The MLBPA emphatically denies Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno’s assertions from earlier today that the Angels had requested and received the approval of the Union to insert language into Josh Hamilton’s contract that would supersede the provisions of the Joint Drug Agreement and/or the Basic Agreement. To the contrary, the collectively bargained provisions of the JDA and the Basic Agreement supersede all other player contract provisions and explicitly prevent Clubs from exactly the type of action Mr. Moreno alluded to in his press comments today.”
7:38pm: Angels owner Arte Moreno told reporters today that his club may seek to enforce provisions of the team’s contract with Josh Hamilton relating to the use of alcohol or drugs, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times was among those to report (Twitter links). Pedro Moura of the Orange County Register reports further details.
Hamilton was recently determined not to have violated his treatment program by an arbitrator, despite apparently admitting a relapse of some kind. (His early career was, of course, marred by numerous drug-related suspensions.) That led to a rather firm rebuke from the club.
The the precise language that the Angels might rely upon remains unknown, as does the remedy they could theoretically seek. “It’s not about money, nothing about money,” Moreno said. “In our contract, there’s language that he signed and that his agent approved that said he cannot drink and use drugs. So, we have specific language in the agreement. We have a couple other players who have the same language.” While the language may not be unique, Moreno did say that it was a point that the team specifically negotiated: “When we started talking to him, we went through his history. We felt it was important for us to have language in our agreement.”
Underlying the matter at this point is the fact that Hamilton not only has apparently relapsed, but that he is starting the year on the DL after two rough seasons to start his career with the Halos. The club owes Hamilton $83MM from this season through 2017 under his deal, and at this point would certainly welcome a chance to avoid some or all of that obligation (though Moreno says “it’s not about money”).
Moreno’s statements (coming on the back of the strong words from GM Jerry Dipoto) certainly seem to indicate that the team is serious about pursuing some action. Asked if he could say that Hamilton would again play in an Angels uniform, Moreno replied: “I will not say that.”
But one major issue with any attempt to pursue action under Hamilton’s contract is the collectively-bargained Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program (JDA). As Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register tweets, the prevailing wisdom holds that the JDA — which outlines punishment for PEDs and recreational drugs — precludes resort to contract terms to punish players for violating the league’s drug rules. There may be some arguments around the JDA’s bar on other means of enforcing violations of its terms, but they seem to face an uphill battle.
Needless to say, it was a frenetic end to the Winter Meetings. Over the course of the morning, several forward-looking reports emerged. We’ll round those up here:
- The Giants are focused on free agent starter James Shields, according to Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury News (via Twitter). San Francisco is alive on both Shields and Ervin Santana, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle adds on Twitter. The club met with Shields in San Diego, as Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reported yesterday (Twitter link).
- The Twins are still trying to land Santana, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, who adds that the Giants, Royals, and Yankees have also expressed interest in the free agent righty.
- The Marlins are still looking hard at the free agent and trade market for a first baseman, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports on Twitter. A deal could come at any time, Spencer adds.
- Attempts by the Marlins to deal for Justin Morneau of the Rockies have fallen apart, tweets MLB.com’s Tom Singer. He hears that Miami could rekindle talks with the Pirates regarding a Pedro Alvarez-for-Nathan Eovaldi swap.
- Communications between the Marlins and Rockies regarding Morneau will continue, MLB.com’s Thomas Harding reports on Twitter, though Harding’s source says he is not sure if the potential match “has legs.”
- The Dodgers did not make their moves as a prelude to dealing away Zack Greinke or dealing for Cole Hamels, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports on Twitter. Los Angeles has already done its heavy lifting with yesterday’s series of moves, says Sherman.
- After trading away second baseman Howie Kendrick, the Angels are “open to opportunities” for additions at the position, GM Jerry Dipoto tells Mike DiGiovanna of MLB.com (Twitter link). The Halos are not interested in free agents Jed Lowrie and Stephen Drew, per Dipoto. Of course, the team just added Josh Rutledge to join in-house option Grant Green in the current mix.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Cole Hamels | Ervin Santana | James Shields | Jed Lowrie | Jerry Dipoto | Justin Morneau | Kansas City Royals | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Los Angeles Dodgers | Miami Marlins | New York Yankees | Newsstand | Pedro Alvarez | Pittsburgh Pirates | San Francisco Giants | Stephen Drew | Zack Greinke
The Angels exercised their 2015 option to retain general manager Jerry Dipoto, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports. The decision was made around the All-Star break, though Dipoto didn’t want to publicize it. The Halos also hold an option on Dipoto for 2016, though no decision has yet been made on that year. Financial terms of Dipoto’s contract aren’t known.
Since becoming the Angels’ GM on October 29, 2011, Dipoto’s tenure has been marked by several major free agent signings (Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson, Josh Hamilton) and trades (acquiring Zack Greinke, Jason Vargas, Huston Street, David Freese) yet the team didn’t reach the postseason in either of Dipoto’s first two seasons. Between this lack of success and rumors of discord between Dipoto and manager Mike Scioscia, there was speculation that Dipoto (or Scioscia) could be replaced last offseason.
Now, with the Angels owning the best record in baseball and looking like World Series contenders, it seems as if Dipoto could remain in Anaheim for a while. It’s fair to speculate that a deep playoff run will likely get Dipoto that 2016 option or even an extension.
Dipoto, 46, enjoyed an eight-year career as a reliever with the Indians, Mets and Rockies before transitioning to scouting and front office work with the Red Sox, Rockies and Diamondbacks. He served as Arizona’s interim GM for the last half of the 2010 season after Josh Byrnes was fired.
Jerry Dipoto is plotting the Angels' future, even though, after a very disappointing 2013 season, it's unclear whether he'll still be around to see his plans bear fruit, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times writes. "I'm not going to get into it," says Dipoto when asked about his future. "I don't want to have this conversation." DiGiovanna notes that, although there's been buzz for months about the possibility of either Dipoto or manager Mike Scioscia leaving after the season, it looks increasingly possible that both could stay. Dipoto says that he will be looking for "young, controllable starting pitching," and DiGiovanna implies that one way of acquiring it would be to trade Howie Kendrick or Mark Trumbo. Here are more notes on the Angels.
- The Angels appear unlikely to extend a qualifying offer to Jason Vargas, writes Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. The team will already be close to the luxury-tax threshold of $189MM, and Gonzalez notes that if Vargas took the qualifying offer of around $14MM, the Angels would "basically already be over budget." Vargas has posted a 4.01 ERA with 6.6 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 143 2/3 innings in 2013.
- The luxury tax is an obstacle to signing Mike Trout to an extension, Gonzalez writes. The luxury tax is calculated based on the average annual value of the players on a team's 40-man roster. So, Gonzalez notes, if the Angels were to sign Trout to a ten-year, $300MM deal, $30MM per year would count toward the luxury tax, even if the contract is backloaded. Without an extension, Trout will again make near the league minimum in 2014.
Mike Scioscia is as committed as ever to the Angels, the manager tells MLB.com's Barry M. Bloom. Scioscia discusses such topics as his relationship with GM Jerry Dipoto and owner Arte Moreno, his frustrations over the Angels' disappointing season and things he'd like to change on the team in 2014.
- The Angels will look to add starting pitching to next year's roster, with an eye towards obtaining young arms, if possible. "Really what we need is organizational starting pitching. We need starting-pitching depth; we need options from within," Dipoto said. "We need young, controllable starting pitching. Essentially guys that when something goes wrong at the Major League level — inevitably an injury will occur, somebody's going to struggle for a period of time — guys that can step in and guys that you can build toward. It's gold in the game."
- Third base will be an area of concern for the team this winter. "In an ideal world, we’ll come up with what we believe is a combination of players" to play the position, Dipoto said. Chris Nelson, Grant Green, Luis Jimenez and Andrew Romine are some of the Halos' current third base options.
- Dipoto will look to add bullpen depth but Ernesto Frieri is expected to continue closing.
- Dipoto offered no comment on any extension talks with Mike Trout, though "obviously, we'd like him to be here long-term." Craig Landis, Trout's agent, said yesterday that there have been no negotiations of a multiyear contract with the team. Trout is under team control through the 2017 season and Dipoto declined to comment on whether the team had altered its policy on pre-arbitration contracts given the controversy surrounding Trout's 2013 salary.
- Dipoto didn't comment on whether or not the Angels would non-tender Tommy Hanson or Jerome Williams. Hanson is a "slam-dunk" to be non-tendered, Gonzalez opines (Twitter links), but Williams is a tougher decision since he could return to Japan rather than re-sign with the Angels at a lower price, plus the team likes his "flexibility" as a swingman. Hanson is entering his second year of arbitration eligibility while Williams is entering his third.
On this day in 2007, Terry Ryan announced that he would step aside from his post as the Twins general manager at the end of the season. As MLBTR's Tim Dierkes noted, Ryan's history was checkered at best at the time. Of course, as a read through this site's most recent post would indicate, Ryan is now back at the helm. Though the team has yet to post more than seventy wins in a season since Ryan returned in November of 2011, Minnesota stands at 15th in ESPN's latest future power rankings on the strength of its minor league system. While Ryan has long been said to have his job as long as he wants to keep it, some other GMs may not be so lucky …
- There are four general managers around the league who could soon be replaced, writes Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com. According to Gammons, two of those — Jerry Dipoto of the Angels and Larry Beinfest of the Marlins – have arguably been undone by meddling owners. (Gammons cites Arte Moreno's $365MM investment in Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, and Jeffrey Loria's propensity for "whimsically run[ning] everything.") Meanwhile, Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik may not survive to see whether the team's top young pitching talent can drive a winner. And Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd — the game's fourth-longest tenured GM — has yet to figure out how to craft a squad that can win away from Coors field. (For what it's worth, O'Dowd was in charge for the franchise's lone season with a winning road record, when it posted a 41-40 mark in 2009.)
- It would be ridiculous to consider Rangers GM Jon Daniels among those at risk, writes Baseball Nation's Grant Brisbee. While he surely could have sacrificed future value to win at all costs this season, says Brisbee, Daniels was prudent not to and still delivered a team that should qualify for the post-season.
- Teams must determine whether to make outgoing free agents a qualifying offer just five days after the conclusion of this year's World Series, and those decisions will play a major role in setting the stage for the 2014 free agent market. For non-obvious candidates, writes Dave Cameron of Fangraphs, an important part of the equation lies in valuing the compensation pick that the team would receive if the player declines the offer and then signs with another club. Working off of a rough valuation of international signing slot dollars, Cameron opines that teams could value the dollars spent on a comp pick as much as three-to-four times higher than money the team could spend outside the draft. As he explains, this would imply that there is substantial excess value in obtaining non-marketable draft picks, which could move the needle in favor of making qualifying offers in marginal situations.
- As we prepare to weigh a new class of free agents, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman ranks the best signings of 2013. His top three are a collection of veterans whose contributions have vastly outweighed the relatively meager financial commitments that they received: Pirates starter Francisco Liriano, Red Sox reliever Koji Uehara, and Athletics starter Bartolo Colon. Next on his list is Boston's David Ortiz, who as Heyman notes was the only player to accept a qualifying offer in the first year of the system.
Here's the latest from Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan:
- Angels GM Jerry Dipoto and manager Mike Scioscia are separated by a "rift" despite Scioscia's recent denial, Passan writes. Since Scioscia's contract runs through 2018, and since his influence throughout the organization is strong, Dipoto is more likely to wind up on the chopping block if the Angels do indeed decide to fire one or the other.
- General managers suspect that Jack Zduriencik of the Mariners needed to have his superiors approve potential trades at the deadline, Passan writes. He also says that the Mariners have checked to see whether former GM and current Phillies advisor Pat Gillick might be interested in coming back to Seattle. Still, now that Zduriencik is apparently under contract through 2014, it appears he'll get more time to see if the Mariners' new core of young players (which includes Kyle Seager, Nick Franklin, Brad Miller, Mike Zunino and Taijuan Walker) can come together.
- Despite the Blue Jays' extremely disappointing season, GM Alex Anthopoulos should get more time, Passan argues, noting that Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion's contracts have been terrific.
SUNDAY, 11:25am: Scioscia told reporters that there isn't a rift between him and Dipoto, according to the Associated Press. "There's no philosophical differences," Scioscia said. "Jerry and I are certainly, as far as our baseball philopsophies, in line."
Scioscia went on to say that the only decision he's publicly had a problem with was the firing of hitting coach Mickey Hatcher last year. Beyond that, Scioscia said the only other differences he's had with Dipoto have to do with disagreements in player evaluations, a normal occurence between a manager and GM.
FRIDAY, 5:18pm: The Angels are likely to replace either GM Jerry Dipoto or manager Mike Scioscia before the 2014 season, FOX Sports' Jon Morosi reports (in a series of tweets). Morosi explains that there are "philosophical differences" between DiPoto and Scioscia that make continuing on with both of them "not tenable."
Relations between Dipoto and Scioscia have been strained since, at least, early in the 2012 season, as Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times noted in May of that year. The two disagreed over the firing of hitting coach Mickey Hatcher, and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports wrote in late 2012 that Scioscia also disliked assistant GM Scott Servais, and was "resistant" to using Dipoto's staff's statistical data.
Scioscia is signed to a ten-year contract that continues through 2018, with salaries of $6MM annually from 2016 through 2018. So if the Angels were to fire Scioscia, they would have to eat the remainder of that contract. Dipoto, meanwhile, is only signed through 2014. Scioscia's contract is mostly a sunk cost, of course, and hiring a new manager wouldn't require the Angels to pay nearly as much. There's also the possibility that Scioscia could end up with another team, thus limiting the Angels' obligation somewhat. Still, as Morosi notes, Scioscia's contract could be a factor.
Another factor potentially in Scioscia's favor is that he is not directly responsible for many of the Angels' most troublesome decisions in the past two years, including the big-ticket signings of Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton and the trade of Jean Segura and two other players for 13 starts by Zack Greinke. Scioscia also is not responsible for the Angels' farm system, which currently rates as one of the worst in baseball (although Dipoto, who has only been on the job since October 2011, bears limited responsibility for that as well).
In his article today, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports took on several important issues facing the disappointing Angels. Here are some notes from the piece, which is worth a read in its entirety. (There is some interesting stuff on former Angel Zack Greinke's hot stove views.)
- It is not difficult to argue that Angels center fielder Mike Trout is the most valuable player in the game today, given his stellar production and bargain salary. His unmatched output-to-cost ratio is especially important to a club that is still in the early stages of dealing with two of baseball's most troublesome deals. While the Angels could simply choose to sit back and enjoy Trout at the league minimum for another season, Rosenthal says the organization needs to be thinking of his future cost.
- After all, when Trout reaches arbitration in 2015, he will almost certainly be paid more than any other first-time arb-eligible player in history. And the cost will only go up from there. As Rosenthal notes, a likely arbitration salary in excess of $10MM will give Trout immediate financial security, making an extension less enticing. While the team could try and dangle a long-term deal before Trout reaches arbitration eligibility, it may be hard pressed to commit the kind of salary needed, particularly given the massive outlays already owed Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. With Trout set to reach free agency at the tender age of 26, he might well elect to take arbitration year-to-year and wait out a historic contract on the open market.
- With the Halos well into a second consecutive season of angst, Rosenthal wonders who among the team's leadership might be sent packing. With GM Jerry Dipoto and manager Mike Scioscia reportedly not on the same page, one or both could certainly lose their jobs. Rosenthal says Dipoto is more likely to go, given the poor performance of recent acquisitions. (Under Dipoto's watch, Rosenthal notes, the team has wasted resources on pitchers Joe Blanton, Tommy Hanson, and Ryan Madson.) On the other hand, says Rosenthal, Scioscia has failed to deliver the kind of "crisp, aggressive teams" that he once did.
Here are a few notes from the American League …
- Angels GM Jerry Dipoto tells Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com that his squad is simply "not good right now." He notes that, with so much going wrong, "it's awfully hard to look at one area or one person and say, that's the cure." After investing huge money in Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, the club was only able to afford a pitching corps that sits near the bottom of the league in all of the major, comprehensive pitching statistics. And, of course, neither Pujols nor Hamilton has performed as expected. The team admittedly entered the year "thin after the 25-man team and the 12-man staff," according to Dipoto, and that lack of depth was tested so much that the team was forced "to start drilling for oil." Now, in a comment that Heyman describes as being "perhaps ominous," Dipoto says that the team is left waiting to see what happens as players come back from the DL: "As we get healthy, we'll have a better chance to assess where we are."
- So far, the best free agent signing of 2013 has been the unexpected Mark Reynolds, tweets Scott Merkin of MLB.com. Indeed, Reynolds is tearing the cover off of the ball for the Indians. After tonight's game, he sports a .291/.367/.645 slash with eleven home runs, which he has accomplished in part by lowering his strikeout rate to a level (25.0%) that is well below his career average (32.3%). Whether or not he keeps up this pace, he appears very likely to substantially outperform his one-year, $6MM deal. Certainly, the Orioles are likely regretting the decision to non-tender Reynolds, who would be an unquestioned upgrade at the club's disastrous DH spot.
- Pitcher Colby Lewis of the Rangers, a prospective 2014 free agent, began his rehab assignment this evening with a two-inning appearance in Triple-A. According to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (via Twitter), Lewis stretched his 45-pitch limit over just two innings as he labored through a 32-pitch second and ultimately let in three runs. As MLBTR's Steve Adams recently explained, Lewis could earn himself a multi-year contract if he shows teams that his past durability can be counted on once more going forward. In an injury-shortened 2012, the 32-year-old Lewis put up a 3.43 ERA over 105 innings and registered 8.0 K/9 against just 1.2 BB/9.