Albert Pujols tops the list of the 25 biggest payroll albatrosses in baseball, as compiled by ESPN’s Dan Szymborski (Insider subscription required). The Angels still have six seasons and $165MM remaining on their ten-year, $240MM contract with the slugger. Szymborski figures the Halos needed at least five years of Pujols matching his 2011 production “for this contract to not be a disaster” before the inevitable decline in his last 30’s, but Pujols has hit a comparatively underwhelming .266/.326/.478 and 115 homers over his first four years in Anaheim. Injuries have played a role in Pujols’ performance, though it’s hard to see him suddenly revisiting his Cardinals-era prime as he enters his age-36 season. Here’s more about the Halos…
- Joe Smith tells MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez that the Angels have yet to approach him about a contract extension, which the veteran reliever understands given how the club is busy with other needs. Smith is a free agent after the season and he’s encouraged about finding another nice contract given how several non-closers (i.e. Darren O’Day, Tony Sipp, Ryan Madson, Joakim Soria) all received healthy multi-year deals this winter.
- In another piece from Gonzalez, Hector Santiago relates how he spent most of the offseason figuring he would be traded. The speculation added to what was already a busy winter for the left-hander, who got married in November. The Angels reportedly received lots of trade interest in Santiago, and his agent even called him in November to say that a trade to the Orioles was imminent.
- While the three-team deal that would’ve brought Michael Saunders to the Halos is apparently off, Pedro Moura of the L.A. Times notes that the attempted trade revealed that the club is still focused on left field upgrades. The platoon of Craig Gentry and Daniel Nava is tentatively set to share the left field duties, and while the Halos at least checked in on big-name free agent left fielders (i.e. Justin Upton, Yoenis Cespedes) this winter, payroll constraints have led them to explore cheaper options. GM Billy Eppler didn’t specifically state that the Angels were focusing on left field, just saying “I’m looking for any reinforcement at any single position we can find, wherever we can improve this club.”