During today’s media event to introduce new general manager Perry Minasian, Angels owner Arte Moreno responded to a question about the club’s 2021 payroll by saying “it’s not going down.” (J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group was among those to report the news.) The Angels’ payroll was projected at roughly $179.5MM heading into the 2020 season before the shortened season reduced that number to just under $65MM.
Many teams are expected to slightly to heavily decrease payroll this offseason, and the Angels already exhibited some financial restraint earlier this year when they made widespread furloughs of employee salaries throughout the organization. Moreno’s statement will therefore bring some relief to Angels fans who were perhaps worried that the team might take a step back to reload rather than push to end its streak of five consecutive losing seasons.
According to Roster Resource, the Angels have a projected payroll of just over $158.75MM in 2021. An 11-player arbitration class will see at least a few non-tenders and thus a few more million taken off the books, leaving Minasian with approximately $25MM to work with in his first offseason in Anaheim. That doesn’t factor, of course, the possibility that other salaries could be moved as part of trades.
A lot can be done with $25MM, especially in an offseason when team spending could be down and a depressed market could lead to some bargain signings. That helps an Angels team that has plenty of holes to fill in the middle infield (a replacement for free agent Andrelton Simmons), potentially at first base or catcher, and most of all, in the pitching staff.
What $25MM wouldn’t do, however, is accommodate a large average annual salary for an upper-tier free agent like J.T. Realmuto or Trevor Bauer, unless some other money was moved around elsewhere on the roster. The luxury tax threshold is also something of a concern, though with a current tax number of just over $174MM, the Halos should be able to stay under the $210MM threshold. While the Angels have maintained high payrolls under Moreno, they have paid a tax bill only once — 2004, Moreno’s first full season owning the team.