The offseason is starting to pick up as we approach Spring Training, which will begin next month (subject to change due to the ongoing pandemic).
After the monstrous moves that sent Yu Darvish and Blake Snell to the Padres and Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco to the Mets, we have seen a flurry of moves since then. While the Angels have not been super involved in those moves, we did see them pick up their catching option to pair with Max Stassi for the 2021 season. 37-year-old Kurt Suzuki, the Cal State Fullerton alum, joined the Angels on a one-year pact worth $1.5 million.
What Suzuki brings to the Angels
Suzuki is a rather boring addition to the club but he’ll fill a position of need. With Max Stassi’s uncertainty coming off of his second hip surgery, there were questions about the depth beyond him. Suzuki himself has been an above-average hitter for the past four seasons, ranking fifth in Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) during that time (111 wRC+). Fitting the trend of recent Angels teams, Suzuki is a premier bat-to-ball hitter who posted a whiff rate in the 90th percentile in 2020. He has sneaky pop (50 HR since 2017) and hits for a high average (.272 since 2017) to offset his poor defensive skills. In that same timeframe, Suzuki leads all catchers with a 151 wRC+ versus left-handed pitching, an area that the Angels have struggled in recent years.
This move also continues a trend of one-year deals that new Angels general manager Perry Minasian has pursued. After acquiring Raisel Iglesias and Jose Iglesias, both free agents after 2021, Minasian has signed two players to one-year MLB contracts (Suzuki and Alex Claudio). It’s definitely an interesting trend and one wonders if this strategy is part of Minasian’s agenda to wait out the starting pitching market or if he has a hard budget from Angels owner Arte Moreno. Time will tell in the coming weeks.
Arbitration updates for six Angels
Five of the six arbitration-eligible players were not surprising, with those five all coming within the projected figures from MLB Trade Rumors.
Bundy and Heaney, both in their final years of arbitration before they hit free agency, are the top-two projected starters for the Angels and were paid accordingly. The bigger surprise, however, came from the lack of a deal with Shohei Ohtani, who will go to an arbitration hearing with the Angels. The two sides are $800 thousand apart on a deal, with Ohtani asking for $3.3 million and the Angels offering $2.5 million. Ohtani is one of 13 arbitration-eligible players who did reach deals with their respective clubs.
The reaction to the Ohtani news was a complicated one, with many fans clamoring for honoring Ohtani’s commitment to choosing the Angels when coming over from Japan. The argument that I’ve seen is that Ohtani sacrificed millions of dollars to come to America before the age of 25 (he would’ve made significantly more had he waited) and therefore, the Angels shouldn’t nitpick over a relatively small difference. While I understand and kind of agree with that sentiment, I also don’t think this will be detrimental to the long-term relationship between the two sides. As you can see above, there are plenty of other talented players who did not agree to deals with their respective clubs. This will be a non-issue if the Angels decide to extend Ohtani to a long-term deal in the next few years.
The current payroll situation
According to Roster Resource, the Angels current luxury tax payroll sits just above $179 million, giving them roughly $31 million to spend before hitting the first tax level. Arte Moreno hasn’t given any indication that he’ll reach that luxury mark, nor has he ever come all that close to it. This website has the club about $11 million short of the luxury tax mark they hit in the 2020 season (prior to the pandemic-shortened season). That doesn’t leave the club with much room to add significant talent via free agency, unless Moreno decides to spend a bit more than usual.
As far as what’s next for the club, it’s easy to envision the club making a trade for one significant starting pitcher. Whether it’s Joe Musgrove, who is an obvious and more attainable starter, or Luis Castillo, whose price will likely be bananas, I’d imagine that this will be an avenue the Angels explore. If they can acquire one strong, cheaper starting pitcher through trade, they’d still have enough resources to possibly add one more starting pitcher, beef up the bullpen, and find a stopgap outfield option via free agency. Given the frantic activity of the past week or so, perhaps the Angels make their first significant splash of the offseason in the near future.
I was hoping for a Mercedes but could only afford a Suzuki.
You and Arte both!
Adding Castillo would help as would to a lesser degree adding Musgrove, both thru trade.
Perry “did his job” only if the new SS is a one year rental.
When I was thinking about reeling in Bauer I was not thinking about it being a “Cole” type contract. He is coming back to sunny SoCal anytime soon me thinks.
I believe whole heartily that Perry has stayed the coarse as set by Arte and has done about what should been expected.
Unless traded the youngsters will make up the OF with JUp having a good year.
Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different outcome…..Relying on the same starters as the season before…
800 thousand dollars can’t be worked out? Does anyone know if Perry or Ohtani know what it is to go to Arbitration? Nasty hurtful stuff is coming down the road. Just sayin’.
Obviously this is how we all feel about signing Suzuki to play part time catcher for 1.5M.
Ohtani has not consistently performed, and not everyone comes back from TJ surgery. If going to a hearing motivates Ohtani and he performs, he’ll get a nice arb number next year. If not, he has proven Perry to be correct. It’s on the player to earn the contract.
Short of Caseli signing here instead of his home town team, or demanding Realmuto if I was an unrealistic manbaby, Kurt’s where it’s at. Sure, he’s not the complete package, but only Realmuto’s that and he will cost 10X as much. A healthy Suzuki/Stassi are our best gamble. Otherwise we were in Tony Wolters/Tyler Flowers zone and the bitching and keening about how much they suck would have been loud and flat. Or we could have paid Molina even more to suck also but be a prick about it. Between the two of these guys we will most likely get slightly better than league average positional offense and average defense…. for 3.1 million bucks.
I’d say Perry did his job on this position…. and closer…. and short stop…. and LHRP….. it’s almost like he’s actually done some stuff while appearing to not do stuff. We all think he’s just a dumb platypus, but when no one is looking…..
Now all we need is for pitchers and GMs to stop batting their eyelashes at each other and start coming together. If I were GM I would call Brett Anderson’s agent and offer him 5 million in the dead of the night…. just lock up that extra low BB/9 back end starter I know I need right now, then see about trades or another FA.
“And our top story Tonite……Owner Arturo ‘Arte’ Moreno is still Cheap.”
Is General Francisco Franco still dead?
See everyone in two weeks when the Angels make another small move.
Hell if you make it about 4 weeks we’ll have this to talk about:
In terms of how much we have to spend, Arte has always made it rather clear that he operates by payroll, not luxury tax.
We were projected to have spent around 185mil on payroll last year, if we had a full season. Arte has said payroll is “not going down.” We currently have 165mil of payroll allocated, and that is including a 2.9 mil projection for Ohtani.
Thus, I would say it is fair to assume we have, at the minimum, 20mil left to spend, and perhaps up to 25mil, depending on various factors. That should be enough to secure two pitchers, especially if we get a cost-controlled one via trade. It just means we won’t be signing Bauer.
Good point. I’m also curious to see how true Moreno is on his word given the unusual factors for the 2021 season. $20 million gives them the space to add those two starters and possibly another FA reliever and OF bat.
Good, signing Bauer will doom this franchise to 6 more years of hell.
I just returned from the future. We didn’t sign much pitching help.
Try again, for the sake of all of us.
Exactly. Bauer was just a dream. Perry will make on trade for a SP, and will sign a free agent SP that will make most of us puke 🤮
Stove is very cold this winter. 🙁
::A new top contender for worst signing ever appears::