In a press conference drummed up with the typical Angels intrigue on Tuesday afternoon, the striking takeaway had nothing to do with newly-hired Angels GM Perry Minasian. In fact, it was Moreno’s revelation that the club’s payroll would not be decreased for the 2021 season that has changed our expectations on club spending.
Perry Minasian and Arte Moreno both noted that pitching will be a necessity this off-season, Moreno said payroll is “not going down.”— Taylor Blake Ward (@TaylorBlakeWard) November 17, 2020
Baseball ownerships haven’t been shy about projecting their intentions onto the free agent market (see Brad Hand and Charlie Morton having their options declined, for example) amid a pandemic that has largely nuked attendance (ticket sales), merchandising sales, among various ancillary revenue streams―and attendance in California sports stadiums will likely hinge upon vaccines being broadly available, unlike some other states that permit a limited capacity of attendees to live sporting events.
That said, Moreno has always been a wild card. Prior to this year’s draft, the Angels announced deep cuts to their scouting department, furloughing area scouts. They were the only team who reportedly did not pay their minor league players through the end of the season. And in the hours leading up to the draft, speculation was rampant the Angels would punt their first round pick (they did not end up doing so, but it wouldn’t be surprising since the Will Wilson trade was “part of a Winter Meetings salary dump that in retrospect was a tip that Arte Moreno was starting to cry about the ops budget.” The Angels reportedly have one of the leanest baseball ops departments in baseball).
You can see, then, why Moreno’s statement on payroll was so telling in light of the current circumstances.
According to Cot’s Contracts, the Angels 2020 payroll (per 162 games) ended the year at $193.9 million for luxury tax purposes, the ninth-highest in baseball. The seasons prior, the same figure was $187mm (10th-highest) and $176.7mm (8th-highest). Keep in mind the Angels have been sellers at the deadline too, which has decreased this figure had they stood pat on August 31st/July 31st.
The Halos’ 2021 payroll (for luxury tax purposes) stands at $169 million (using arb projections courtesy of Cot’s), which would give them at least $25 million to spend this winter in a worst-case scenario. That said, payroll not going down isn’t a commitment to payroll increasing, and though the Anthony Rendon signing was a splash, there’s no indication that something similarly large will occur this winter.
A couple notes:
- The Angels did not extend a qualifying offer to Andrelton Simmons, who is now a free agent.
- The Angels outrighted RHP Cam Bedrosian off the 40-man roster, and Bedrosian elected free agency
To be conservative in each of the staff’s general manager scenarios that we’ll be rolling out shortly, we will be using $195 million as the actual payroll, which means the club would be able to spend an additional $26 million this winter. Celebrate responsibly.