Matt Swartz has developed a very accurate model that MLBTR uses to project arbitration salaries, as explained in this series of posts. We've heard from many MLB teams and agencies that reference the projections in their work. The Angels are next in our series. Estimated service time is in parentheses, and estimated 2014 salary follows.
- Mark Trumbo (3.027): $4.7MM
- Jerome Williams (5.049): $3.9MM
- Tommy Hanson (4.114): $3.9MM
- Ernesto Frieri (3.101): $3.4MM
- Kevin Jepsen (3.163): $1.4MM
- Juan Gutierrez (4.035): $1.1MM
- Peter Bourjos (3.062): $1.1MM
- Chris Nelson (2.122, Super Two): $1MM
Trumbo projects for a healthy salary his first time through arbitration, with career numbers of 95 home runs and 284 RBI and a platform year with 34 homers and 100 knocked in. His flaw is a .299 career on-base percentage, which should improve if he holds onto gains in his walk rate and his batting average recovers. There is value in a player with Trumbo's profile, especially at $4.7MM. I wouldn't be too aggressive about a long-term deal, though, and a healthy Albert Pujols would give the Angels the depth to consider trading Trumbo.
Bourjos is another trade candidate. This year a hamstring injury and wrist fracture each cost him over a month, with September wrist surgery ending his season. Angels GM Jerry Dipoto showed faith in Bourjos as his starting center fielder entering the season, and if Trumbo, Pujols, and Josh Hamilton are rotated through the designated hitter spot in 2014, there's room for everyone to start. On the other hand, MVP candidate Mike Trout is more than capable of handling center, making a Bourjos trade possible. Bourjos' value is at a low point after the injuries limited him to just 55 games in 2013, but he's also quite affordable his first time through arbitration and should remain cheap beyond 2014.
Frieri notched 37 saves in 2013, so he'll get paid through arbitration despite allowing 11 home runs with a 3.80 ERA. Agents of relievers like Joe Nathan, Grant Balfour, Joaquin Benoit, Edward Mujica, and Brian Wilson are surely hoping the Angels will throw some money at the ninth inning this winter, pushing Frieri to a setup role. Regardless, he's worth retaining at his projected salary.
The Angels' bullpen also includes arbitration eligible relievers Jepsen and Gutierrez. Jepsen, 29, averaged almost 96 miles per hour on his fastball and whiffed a batter per inning in 2013. He also allowed 41 hits in 36 innings, missing time due to a lat strain and emergency appendectomy. With a $1.4MM projection, he's worth retaining. Gutierrez, another hard thrower, won a spot in the Royals' bullpen out of Spring Training but was designated for assignment in July. The Angels added him on a waiver claim, and he posted a 5.19 ERA for them in 26 innings despite striking out 9.7 per nine innings. His spot on the 40-man roster seems tenuous, even with a low projected salary.
Williams was again a useful swingman, but with his salary projected to nearly double, the Angels might consider non-tendering him and using the funds elsewhere. Hanson is a certain non-tender, after missing significant time due to a personal matter, hitting the DL for a forearm strain, and getting a demotion to Triple-A. At just 27 years old, Hanson's former promise may earn him a big league contract on the free agent market, if his health checks out.
With two years and 122 days of Major League service, Nelson represents the unofficial Super Two cutoff for 2013. With a projected salary only $500K over the league minimum, that's not a big factor in the Angels' tender decision. Nelson joined the Angels from the Yankees on a May 18th waiver claim, but was designated for assignment less than a month later. He remained in the organization after accepting an outright assignment, and after finding his way back to the bigs hit the DL for a hamstring injury. Expect him to be cut loose by the Angels.
If the Angels tender contracts to Trumbo, Frieri, Jepsen, and Bourjos, they're looking at a projected $10.6MM for four arbitration eligible players.