With the Angels sitting only $22MM underneath the $189MM luxury tax threshold and holes to fill at second base, third base and in left field, owner Arte Moreno may have no choice but to incur luxury tax penalties for just the second time since purchasing the team in 2003, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times. When asked about the possibility, general manager Billy Eppler sounded open to the concept. “There are scenarios where you can see it being reasonable, and there are scenarios where you can see it not being worth it,” Eppler told DiGiovanna and other reporters. “Undetermined is probably the best way to put it,” added Eppler, who said scenarios which put the team over the luxury tax will be handled on a case-by-case basis. Eppler did admit that he’s had a wide number of trade and free-agent discussions in his search for an outfield upgrade, including names at the top of the market. While he declined to discuss specifics, players such as Jason Heyward, Alex Gordon, Justin Upton and Yoenis Cespedes are all available in free agency, and the former two would give Anaheim a much-needed left-handed bat to help balance out the lineup.
A few more notes on the Halos…
- Tyler Skaggs recently threw a 90-pitch bullpen session in Arizona, Eppler also told DiGiovanna today. The GM said the plan for Skaggs, who missed the entire 2015 season recovering from Tommy John surgery that he underwent in late 2014, is to “let him roll” in Spring Training, indicating that he won’t have much in the way of limitations placed on him. Eppler added that C.J. Wilson is expected to be “unrestricted” in Spring Training as well. The 35-year-old Wilson underwent surgery to remove bone spurs from his pitching elbow in August. DiGiovanna points out that Wilson could become a trade candidate in Spring Training if he can demonstrate his health on the mound.
- If the Halos do make a run at Heyward, fellow Gold Glove right fielder Kole Calhoun won’t complain one bit about moving across the diamond to left field, he told MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez. “If our team is going to get better, and that’s the way we’re going to get better, I’m all for it,” Calhoun said to Gonzalez when asked about a possible shift to left. Calhoun did go on to discuss the difficulties of such a switch, elaborating on the difficulty of essentially being forced to read swing paths and calculate routes in reverse. Gonzalez speculates that Heyward is the best fit among the potential free-agent outfielders for Anaheim, though he noted he’ll also be the most expensive of the bunch.
- It should also be noted that both DiGiovanna and Gonzalez note that Eppler expressed satisfaction with the Angels’ rotation and bullpen, so if further additions are made to the club, expect it to be on the position-player side of the equation. As Gonzalez writes, Eppler and the Angels will head into the Winter Meetings without a set target in mind. Rather, they’ll entertain a wide variety of scenarios to address multiple holes, but Eppler would only state that the goal “is to walk out the door with more information than you walked in with.”
- Though he notes that any club in baseball could use a star-caliber outfielder set to enter his age-26 season, MLB.com’s Mike Petriello lays out a case for his belief that the Angels need Heyward more than any other club in the Majors. The Halos’ left fielders were collectively the least-productive unit at the position in 2015, and they have at least three pitchers in their rotation — Jered Weaver, Andrew Heaney and Hector Santiago — who were among the top 25 in fly-ball percentage for starting pitchers, making Heyward’s glove all the more valuable to them. (Matt Shoemaker, too, was in the top 25 he notes, though Shoemaker isn’t necessarily guaranteed a rotation spot.) Also, with a poor farm system that was thinned out further with the acquisition of Andrelton Simmons, the Angels probably can’t add an elite talent by way of trade. It’s a well-reasoned case and well worth a full read.