Mike Trout Rumors
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.
Mike Trout is arguably baseball's greatest value at a salary of $510K, but the time will come when the Angels will have fork over a whole lot more to keep him long-term. However, that time might not be this offseason as agent Craig Landis says that things are still status quo, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.
“I'll answer one question on contract talks — there have been no discussions,” said Landis. “Obviously, Mike's future is extremely bright. We'll be patient. Mike's a young guy. However it goes, he's going to make a lot of money and be a great player.”
For his part, Trout says that he loves playing with the Angels but he also feels that it's time to go house shopping and he'd like to know if he'll be buying in southern California or elsewhere. Some still fear that there is lingering resentment between Trout and the Halos for his salary this season and while they can name a better price in 2014, he'll be eligible for arbitration the following year. The 22-year-old is scheduled to hit the open market after the 2017 campaign.
Trout followed up his Rookie of the Year winning performance in 2012 with even stronger offensive production this season. The center fielder owns a .324/.431/.557 slash line with 26 homers in 698 plate appearances.
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that there are several top teams that will have surpluses in certain areas this offseason that will be second guessing whatever move they make. In the case of the Dodgers, they have four strong outfielders in Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Andre Ethier, and Carl Crawford. One would imagine that Ethier, who is frequently in trade rumors, would be the one to go, but GM Ned Colletti could also give some thought to dealing Kemp if the right offer comes along. Here's more from today's column..
- After bouncing back from a slow start, catcher Carlos Ruiz is desirable again and the Phillies are more enthused about the idea of re-signing him. That may prove to be difficult once Ruiz gets to the open market as he’d be a cheaper alternative to Brian McCann or Jarrod Saltalamacchia and more consistent than Dioner Navarro.
- According to Mike Napoli's agent Brian Grieper, there still haven't been contract talks with the Red Sox. It appears they will play it out and decide about a qualifying offer. One possibility is that they put Xander Bogaerts at third and Will Middlebrooks at first, taking Napoli out of the equation.
- Tim Hudson, 38, wants to return from the ankle fracture he suffered in July. Hudson, who should cleared for baseball activities by mid-December, will be a free agent but wants to stay in Atlanta. It'll come down to the money for the veteran, who earned $9MM this season.
- Grady Sizemore tried to get back playing this season, but he needs more time for his knees to heal. He'll likely be ready for a major league camp next spring and work out for teams this offseason to show he’s healthy. If he looks OK, he’ll probably get a few teams interested.
- Some still believe that it was a mistake for the Angels to only pay Mike Trout $510K this season and that he won't forget it when it comes time to work out a new deal with the club.
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.
MVP awards are supposed to be based on a player's value to his team, but voters don't ordinarily take contract considerations into account, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports notes. If they did, Passan says the Angels' Mike Trout, who is making just $510K this year compared to Miguel Cabrera's $21MM, would likely win the AL MVP this year. The next-most-valuable player, when considering performance and salary, would be Matt Harvey, who is making $499K. Of course, players like Cabrera and Clayton Kershaw, who have higher salaries but also provide spectacular performance, are still extremely valuable even after factoring in their contracts. But Passan quotes Padres analyst Chris Long, who makes a distinction between value (that is, the degree to which a player outperforms his salary) and mere performance. Most MVP debates only consider the latter. Here are more notes from around the Majors.
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington says that he believes fewer players are being placed on waivers than last August, and that more players are being claimed, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review tweets. That might suggest it will be difficult for the Pirates, and perhaps other teams as well, to pull off August trades.
- GM Rick Hahn has the White Sox on the right course, Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago writes. Hayes argues that Hahn's trading has added high-level prospects (particularly Avisail Garcia, acquired from the Tigers in the Jake Peavy deal) and depth (in the form of the other three prospects acquired from the Red Sox in the same deal). Hahn also cleared salary by trading Peavy, Alex Rios, Matt Thornton and Jesse Crain. "Although this wasn’t how we wanted to spend the July and August trading periods, overall we are pleased with both the return talent-wise as well as the flexibility created by the deals," says Hahn.
- With their trades, the White Sox cleared $10.7MM in salary in 2013 and $27MM in 2014, Baseball America's Matt Eddy notes. Eddy has compiled a list of what each team traded at the deadline, and what it received in return.
Angels star outfielder Mike Trout has the most trade value of any player in Major League Baseball, according to Dave Cameron of Fangraphs. That opinion is certainly hard to dispute given Trout's incredible performance level and team control, even though we are unlikely to see Trout's trade value tested on the market any time soon. The more interesting question with respect to Trout is what it might cost the Angels should they approach his agent, LSW Baseball, in a bid to lock up the 21-year-old to a long-term deal. Certainly, you should read the entirety of Cameron's trade value series if you have not already. (Links to to the full series are found at the above link.) Trout may be an easy call at the pole position, but the list is (as it should be) ripe for debate. I'd venture that Yadier Molina (#11) and Yasiel Puig (#24) are among the two biggest surprises on the high side, though Cameron certainly has insightful and interesting reasons for their placement.
In honor of the young Mr. Trout, let's take a look around the AL West:
- In case you were wondering, there were no substantial developments overnight on the prospective deal that would have delivered Matt Garza to the Rangers. Click here to get up to speed on where things ended last night. As we wait to see what direction that situation is headed, it is worth your time to take a look at this piece from Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs discussing why, exactly, the Rangers are pursuing Garza in the first place.
- The Mariners continue to be a fascinating team to watch as the trade deadline approaches. While Seattle has no realistic postseason prospects at this point, the club has performed well of late and appears to be loath to part with its more obvious trade assets. The team has several attractive veterans on short-term contracts that could be exchanged for minor league depth. On the other hand, a push for a .500 record could energize the fan base and help spur the development of its young core players, making the second half more important than one might expect for a club in this position. This piece from Larry Stone of the Seattle Times breaks down the decisions facing the club.
- For instance, GM Jack Zduriencik might prefer to make Kendrys Morales a qualifying offer next year rather than trade him now. Likewise, the M's could hang onto Raul Ibanez given his high standing in Seattle. Indeed, that would be Ibanez's apparent preference. He told reporters, including Stone, that while he does want to play for a contender, he doesn't see why that can't happen in Seattle. In fact, ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that the Mariners have shown "zero indication" that key veterans like Morales and Ibanez will be made available.
- Trade talks on Astros starter Bud Norris -- the consensus choice for top controllable starter available -- are heating up, tweets Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. Though he does not offer details on actual trade talks, Crasnick says (on Twitter) that several teams could make sense as destinations for Norris, including the Giants, Indians, Nationals, Dodgers, Red Sox, Pirates, and Rangers.
It's been a disastrous 2013 for the Angels, who sit 10 games below .500 and 11 games out of first place in the AL West. Angels owner Arte Moreno spoke with Bob Nightengale of USA Today regarding his team's slow start. Here are some highlights from the piece...
- Manager Mike Scioscia and GM Jerry Dipoto aren't in immediate danger of losing their jobs, though Moreno notes that he will re-evaluate the team in the offseason. Moreno says that he likes Dipoto's analytical systems and still considers Scioscia an elite manager.
- Moreno says he's never seen anything like the struggles that Josh Hamilton has endured to open the season, however he feels it's too early to judge 32-year-old: "Five years from now, we can sit down, and then ask me about the investment in the man.'' Hamilton, of course, is batting just .207/.262/.378 and has played below replacement level according to both Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference.
- Moreno tells Nightengale that he has no buyer's remorse when it comes to the Albert Pujols deal. The opportunity to bring one of the best hitters in the history of the game to Anaheim was a "treat." Pujols hasn't struggled at Hamilton's level, but his .258/.330/.447 batting line and injury problems don't bode well, considering he's owed $212MM from 2014-21.
- There have yet to be any serious negotiations about Mike Trout, partly because it's so difficult to put a value or dollar amount on his incredible numbers to date.
- The Halos can opt out of their stadium in 2016 to either have the 50-year-old park refurbished or have a new one constructed. Moreno says that the ideal situation would be to remain in the current Angel Stadium.
Earlier this month, the Angels renewed the contract of outfield sensation Mike Trout for $510K, $20K over the league minimum. Trout, of course, had an otherworldly campaign, winning Rookie of the Year and finishing second in the AL MVP vote. Baseball's collective bargaining agreement allows teams to set salaries for players who are not yet arbitration eligible, so Trout's agent Craig Landis had no leverage to negotiate.
That didn't stop Landis from issuing a statement, in which he said Trout's salary "falls well short of a 'fair' contract." Trout's season was uncommon, but good players with less than two years of Major League service being renewed is not. This became a news story only because of Landis' statement. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported this week that Landis implied to the Angels that Trout wanted a $1MM salary, which would have topped the $900K the Phillies bestowed upon Ryan Howard after his '06 MVP season.
Some might say the Phillies were foolish for giving Howard $520K above the league minimum in '07, because that gift did not buy enough goodwill to prevent the two sides from going to an arbitration hearing a year later. The same argument could be taken by the Angels, who chose not to make an exception to their service-time based pay scale.
In contrast, a few members of today's Clubhouse Confidential panel at this week's excellent SABR Analytics conference, particularly Dave Cameron of FanGraphs, opined that the Halos should have given Trout the million dollars he reportedly sought. Cameron's stance is that the Angels could have treated the extra $510K as a worthy public relations expenditure. The Angels would have made headlines for their generosity, and setting a precedent for their future zero-to-three players would not be a concern since Trout's situation is so rare. Now, it's your turn to weigh in -- choose the number that you like best.
The Angels' $510K renewal of Mike Trout's contract for 2013 has made minor news this week. Now FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports that Trout's agent, Craig Landis, has suggested his client wanted a $1M contract for 2013. Since Trout is a pre-arbitration eligible player and does not have a long-term deal, the Angels were not obligated to pay him any more than the league minimum salary of $490K, despite Trout's exceptional 2012 performance. One source tells Rosenthal the Angels did not negotiate the deal at all. Another tells him that the Angels initially offered Trout a contract of more than $510K, but Trout did not accept it, and the Angels gave him the $510K contract as punishment. In any case, as Rosenthal suggests, the mini-controversy over Trout's 2013 salary will quickly vanish into history if the two sides can agree on a long-term deal. And, of course, salaries near the league minimum are routine for pre-arbitration eligible players, even spectacular ones. Here are more notes from around the majors.
- The Blue Jays' offseason acquisitions of Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey have put the squeeze on several Jays pitchers, including J.A. Happ, who no longer has much of a shot at a rotation job. Nonetheless, Happ continues to prepare for the season as a starter, writes Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com. "Right now I'm focused on being a starter, building up and doing what I've done in the past," says Happ. Happ could win a job in the bullpen, or he could wind up in the rotation at Triple-A Buffalo, even though he will earn $3.7MM this year.
- Third baseman Eric Chavez, now with the Diamondbacks, says he needed to leave the Athletics organization behind after suffering numerous injuries in his last seasons there, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports. Chavez left the A's after the 2010 season, and signing a minor-league deal with the Yankees gave him a chance to "restart everything" by escaping from expectations established early in his career in Oakland. Chavez hit .281/.348/.496 in a successful 2012 campaign in New York, leading to a one-year, $3MM major-league deal with Arizona for 2013.