The Angels are in a tough spot. Baseball is a sport in which the team isn’t as good as its best players but one in which the team is as good as its worst players. Hence a team with both Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani not sniffing the playoffs because it is also the team of Andrew Velasquez, Tyler Wade, and a host of others.
A major impediment to raising the floor around Mike Trout is owner Arte Moreno’s payroll restraints. Yes, $190 million per year is a significant amount of payroll. However, when $75 million of that is tied up in two players, there’s not enough to pay 24 other good players plus replacement depth.
When $38 million is going down a black hole and giving you absolutely no value, that problem is amplified. So let’s take a look at shedding Anthony Rendon’s salary and giving Perry Minasian a real chance at building a team.
I realize the odds of this happening are about the same as the odds of me winning next year’s Tour de France, but let’s take a look at what could happen if we jettisoned Rendon’s salary.
The obvious starting point is Ohtani. With a year and a half of control, a huge raise in arbitration looming (further constraining payroll), and team going nowhere, attaching Rendon to Ohtani would significantly reduce the talent return but free up at least $55 million in spending capacity for next year.
Steven Cohen flexes his muscle here and lands the biggest star in baseball. He also picks up Brandon Marsh because nobody can have unlimited payroll. The cost do so is absorbing Rendon’s contract, but Cohen can always commit some more financial fraud to cover that.
Taijuan Walker leads the return to the Angels. He’s pretty good when healthy, pitching to a ERA+ of 157 over 91 innings this year, and has a $6 million player option for 2023 that he’ll likely not take. But if he does, we’re better off for it.
Khalil Lee has had two cups of coffee in the bigs and largely put up solid lines in the minors. He’s 24, under control for six years, and likely profiles as a fourth outfielder, which we need.
I’m going to preface this trade by saying I think the simulator greatly over values Taylor Ward. However, I think Ohtani is likely under valued. Probably enough to about even things out.
Here the Yankees West do what they’ve done before: absorb bad contracts to get premium players. Ohtani becomes a huge star in Hollywood and gets to the post season. The Dodgers shore up their one real weakness on the grass and become runaway World Series favorites for the next two years. Plus they have the financial muscle to extend Ohtani after next year.
The return here is nice. The Dodgers pay a bit of a talent premium and send near MLB ready pitching prospect Bobby Miller to the Angels. He’s likely our 2 or 3 next season. Basically, he replaces the $21 million per year Thor so this trade likely nets Minasian at least $75 million in spending power next year.
Can’t forget about the original Yankees here, either. Ohtani in the Big Apple is every baseball writer’s dream. He immediately makes this juggernaut even more juggernauty and Marsh’s left handed bat would probably crack 20 bombs a year in that Little League ballpark while he covers a ton of ground in left.
The Angels take on Joey Gallo for the remainder of the year. He’s a non-factor here but needs to be moved so NY can add Marsh to the roster.
Beck Way has a good fastball and an effective slider. He’s a two pitch pitcher and could likely be rushed to an MLB bullpen gig next year if a team gives up on trying to make him a starter. Considering his fastball sits mid 90s and touches 99, that might not be a bad thing.
Not pretty, is it? Thankfully the computer screen is keeping the tomatoes from hitting me. However, maintaining the status quo is only going to maintain the status quo.
If the team were to do this, I’d also want to unload Reisel Iglesias $16 million for the next three years. But that’s an article for a different day.
By shedding Rendon’s contract, along with Ohtani’s likely $15+ million next year, the Angels would have significant buying power. Enough to absorb Eric Hosmer from the Padres and add significant prospect capital if they chose. Or sign a full rotation. Or get a legitimate shortstop and save some for the following year.
Trading Ohtani would also allow the Angels to get back to a 5 man rotation, meaning one less free agent pitcher to sign. I really think a team with this little depth would benefit greatly from this. And if one of those pitchers is Miller or Walker, then we’ve added quality while subtracting a need.
I think it would make way more sense to pursue a rebuild around Ohtani and try to trade Trout to Philly with Rendon attached. Angels would still get a haul of prospects back even with Rendon’s contract heading their way. I’d imagine something like Bohm plus 3 top prospects is attainable with that swap.
Then trade away Raisel, Loup, Tepera, Thor, Lorenzen and Stassi as well to the extent possible.
Finally, give Ohtani a record breaking extension to build around. If he doesn’t like/want that scenario, trade him too and start from scratch.
Phillies (or for that matter any team) will not take 70-80 mil/year in payroll for years and give up prospects who are any good. If we trade, Ohtani is really the ONLY valuable piece we have. So everyone “stays,” one way or another, if we manage to keep Ohtani.
Even tearing down will be quite expensive, both in dollars and prospects. I’m getting convinced that, just as a matter of business, Arte is probably better off financially in medium to long term (if he wants to keep owning the team) increasing the payroll to 250 million range for a year or two (while spending a bit on player development and scouting, too).
In other words, trading Trout without Rendon contract attached is not valuable? That doesn’t make sense to me as in my view Trout would fetch quite a prospect haul even with 8 years/$297M left on his deal. Judge is about to get $300M+ at same age as Trout and similar checkered injury history but not even close to Trout’s track record of production/performance. I’m fairly confident that all the big market teams in win now mode would be interested in taking Trout off our hands at his price tag plus prospects, and would be MORE willing to part with top prospects for 8 years of Trout vs. 1 year of Ohtani. Even Rendon would be useful to the big market teams like LAD, NYY, NYM, that currently don’t have a long term 3B solution, at the right price.
Interesting idea. Won’t get a lot of prospects back, but that does save $75 million per year in payroll space. If we could unload Iggy, that’s $91 million.
Angels management would never do this.
I dont think Ohtani himself is the reason for the 6-man rotation, believe it is an Angel organization choice. Last year, Shoehei had better stats in a 5-man.
According to Fletcher in his new book, it was the Angels idea for a 6 man.
BTW Ohtani has never pitched on 4 days rest. I think You mean 5 days of rest which has in career 5 times. Considering the lack of off days you would still need a ton of 6th starters. As an example look at the Angels out of the all star break. They have 20 games in 19 straight days. So unless you want to fix Ohtani and then rotate through 4 to 5 starters to keep them on 4 days rest, your plan wont work.
Also Thor had some interesting comments to Fletcher about the trade rumor. Generally he said he really likes the Angels and praised the 6 man rotation. So maybe there are some guys out there that would prefer it going forward?
It’s a real shame that we finally cut ties with Pujols and then along comes the Rendon signing. At what point does the FO realize their errors in contracts such as these? Mediocrity does not have to be the way going forward. Do better damn.
Considering the GO you reference is really the owner, I’d say never.
To dump Rendon I’d try something like Bachman, Neto and Rendon for a bag of balls and a 12 month subscription to the jelly of the month club.
if I’m going to deal Ohtani, I do it without attaching Rendon.
You can’t very well rebuild by trading the future, can you? Rendon is not going anywhere, best we can hope for is a return to normal for him. It was a bad signing from day one, but it can’t get any worse than him not playing.
I am a true proponent of rebuilding this team and would love to Trout for life, Shohei for even longer and off Rendon. The W-L looks good when he is in because we have no one worth a dang to replace him at the Hot Corner. In a rebuild that will take 4-5 years you follow the pattern that worked for Houston and Atlanta, is working for Baltimore currently and even Detroit that is clueless is going to get better. Oakland rebuilds and starts winning and dismantles with Miami doing the same every 5 years. The Angels are not the model for keeping high priced contracts and then paying out the rest 2-million-dollar deals, doesn’t work as we have proved it. By tearing it all down and starting over you have a shot in 4-5 years of being winners. Right now, we have no chance of even having a +.500 record in the next 5 years. Trout just might play his heart out and play with his injuries if back by his real home. Shohei will bring a lot of value to certain clubs. Rendon it could be he will recover and be here another 4 year count down like we had with Albert.
By saving money that means that attendance will fall, but the little bit of money saved can be shifted to organizational rebuild. Scouting could be improved; Development and teaching and coaching will improve and those traded for and drafted can be taught the right ways of doing the things they need to know to go to the top. Then as fans we can watch the team go from 62 win season to 102 win season, and the fans will return. Ohtani could maybe end up across town so we can watch him every night too. Mike will join Gurrero in the HoF as an Angel too. Rendon will be at the end of the line too.
Lock Arte and his 3 top guys in a closet and give them spiked milk every night. Better yet, send Arte to Arizona and e-mail him the scores and fired all the dead wood. Keep PTP as GM and bring in a POBO. Sign up for 5 more years at the Big A. Build a solid team and they will come.
I guess my praying for you is getting through 👃 👌 👀
Those who think he will ever become a productive player again are kidding themselves.
Thanks Jeff for shedding some light on how to dump his contract. That’s some pretty nasty medicine.
But as you pointed out what I thought was the only problem is now just the biggest. Trout looking like Rendon 2.0. The terrible three in the bullpen. Ohtani about to go goodbye. And Marsh/Adell looking like crap, until they get traded.
It’s obvious it’s no easy fix and Arturo/Minasian are not the pair who can pull it off. Cue the Keystone Cops and run the Yakkety Sak music.
a problem I have with the trade evaluator is that Rendon’s negative value is substantially higher than Ohtani’s positive value. Gallo is terrible and would hurt the Angels more by playing than Rendon does by sitting. Yet Gallo has a positive number (2.8) and Rendon has an absurd negative 135.
That’s not the real world. It’s an interesting way of computing values but I just don’t buy that outrageous Rendon number.
The simulator really, really values control. And it really penalizes hefty contracts.
In this case, Gallo is cost controlled and a free agent at the end of this year. His value is that he’s cheap.
Rendon, however, would completely hamstring a small market club. Could you imagine Milwaukee or Tampa Bay with that contact? They’d be sunk. The contract is so bad that only 3-4 teams in the league could possibly absorb it. And at age 32, the likely performance is headed down.
So to quantify that contract, he’s got a really negative number.
Not saying I agree with all the valuations, but that is the logic.
All the losing started once he went down. I think he has a bigger impact then most of us realize when he’s healthy.
The W/L numbers sure indicate that.
It’s probably that he cares so little about winning that all the other players feel they have to try extra hard to actually play baseball.
When he was healthy this year Ward was hitting like Trout, Detmers was throwing no hitters, and Walsh was playing at an MLB level.
If his mere presence is responsible for all that, he’s under paid.
It’s prettier than you’d think after you really look at it. Especially if you’re desperate to be rid of Rendon. I’m actually not. He seems to lead somewhat, and he’s good when healthy. 3B is a tough spot to fill. We can get outfielders and DHs fairly easy and hopefully bolster the pitching staff via these trades.
BUT, if Shoe + Trout + Rendon = 100+ M in payroll I’m not gonna play like it doesn’t make sense to get out of that situation.
I’d like to trade Trout too if we’re going down this road. If we get free of all our huge contracts AND pick up a guy like Bobby Miller and an equivalent prospect while losing all of our big 3 I can think of worse new adventures to start out on.
Might as well trade Iggy too for a little more prospect action.
We’ll totally look like the A’s when we’re done with all this, but I’m cool with that if it helps us build back better.
Politics radar triggered! /s
I too love watching overpaid players made of glass
Let’s just spend more and for the 3rd season in a row, hope Rendon and Trout come back healthy
We’re still paying Matt Shoemaker? Now that was stupid.
Is this a joke? WTF would we trade Ohtani and Ward just to shed Rendon’s salary for a speedy Dave Kingman or some other prospects and their yet undiagnosed UCL tears?
And by the way its not like Rendon is some big flaming cokehead asshole. I know hes been injured ALOT but other than damaging Arte’s wallet, the team is much better when he plays then when he doesn’t.
Case in point his 2022 W-L record:
Rendon & Trout in the lineup: 23-18
Rendon no Trout in the lineup: 3-1
Trout no Rendon in the lineup: 9-29
I wanted to do analysis with Rendon/Trout/Ohtani or Rendon/Ohtani but G.A. set in and I lost interest. But you get the point, we are way better off figuring out a way to keep Rendon healthy then trade our few valuable assets with his bad contract to try and get relief.
No! Rendon is the devil! And he doesn’t care about how evil he is! He looks like my lady’s ex. He does not look like Gerrit Cole. He must be cast out!
As @MarineLayer stated above, those who think Rendon can still bounce back after this season and last, are kidding themselves.
Well, count me in as those who are still “kidding themselves.”
I really don’t think Rendon is a huge problem. He’s produced well when he’s healthy. And yes, whether it was a coincidence or not, the horrible streak started when he went down (and Ward too, and Trout sucking so bad). Having Rendon after Ohtani or Trout in the lineup is still much better than having Rengifo in there. He’s not sold out for power (like Trout has), and he’s still consistently getting on base even when he’s not hitting. 3B has also been a hard hole to fill for the Angels – just look at the garbage paraded this year after Rendon went down. His defense is still top-notch.
I’m on the camp where, if Rendon is offloaded, might as well truly burn it all down and start from scratch. Offload Ohtani, Trout, Walsh, Ward, Iggy as well. No more of this “we’re rebuilding, but we’re really not.” dance they’ve been doing for the last decade or so.
Put a team of real cost-controlled youngsters such as Sandy, Barria, Suarez, Adell, Marsh, and whoever prospects we get from an all-out fire sale. No more Trout, midlevel star, and the kids.
I don’t see a way for the Angels to realistically compete with both the Trout and Rendon mega contracts on the books at the same time. Adding an Ohtani one on top of that will just compound it.
Take a look at how next year is set up:
$190 million payroll
$37 million Mike Trout
$38 million Anthony Rendon
$16 million Raisel Iglesias
$7 million Ryan Tepera
$7.5 million Aaron Loup
$6 million David Fletcher
That’s $111.5 million in 6 guys. None of whom are really setting the world on fire right now.
That leaves $78.5 million for the other 34 guys.
Ohtani gets a raise in arbitration. Will set a new record off back to back MVP’s. Bellinger got $11.5 million after one MVP. So let’s budget Ohtani for $15 million (an absolute bargain).
Now we’re down to $63.5 million to fill out a team with no real shortstop at least two holes in the rotation, no depth to speak of, no catching, and the need for a six man rotation.
We all know the bottom part of the 40 man roster will be minimum wage guys. Let’s say 20 of them are. That’s $15 million.
So we are now set to try the Angels from fourth to the playoffs with at best $48.5 million to spend.
I’d be frantically trying to dump Iggy’s salary for sure. But as long as the two parameters of a fixed payroll number and the two huge salaries exist, we’re toast.
The question becomes do we want to be toast for a year and rebuild or keep repeating the last decade?
Here’s what I wrote last week. I took the approach that we run it back next season but it will require Arte going Mike Illitch and acting like a big market like the Skanks, Doyers, Chowds & Mets for once. (The payroll amounts are for the CBT calcs including the straight lining of salaries and player benefits) Cots has the best analysis I can find for salary figures, payroll commitments and CBT calculations https://legacy.baseballprospectus.com/compensation/cots/al-west/la-angels/
The CBT threshold moves to 233 million next year. We are currently at 206 million. Thats not alot of increase considering our established 2023 obligations for MNT, Redone, Fletch, Stassi, Iggy, Pooop, Tepera and an Arb estimate for Shohei. I put that number including player bennies and 40 man salaries at about $167 million. That leaves only $66 million for Arte to fill out 18 roster spots Including 5 starting pitchers, 1B, 2B, LF, RF , Backup C, 3 bench spots and 5 bullpen flotsam/Jetsam. Of those TBW, Sandoval, Rengifo, Canning (who may get NT) & Barria (who also may get NT but I doubt it) are all Arbitration eligible for the first time. (Anybody want to take a stab on those amounts? Maybe 20 Million total? ) Also Detmers will be back and at least Marsh and/or Jo Adell. And I would also guess Quesadilla & at least one of the A & W brother at around the league minimum. (say around $4.5 million?) Even if Arte agrees to spend up to threshold That leaves less than $42 million for 3 starting pitchers, 1B, a backup catcher, 3 key bench spots and 3 bullpen spots all of which have to perform above replacement if we are to improve.
Obviously it only works next year if Arte’s willing to go up to and over the CBT. If not then tear it down. Thats why I’m hoping this predicament forces him to spend until the farm system recharges the roster.
I think we’re a year away from a cost controlled pitching staff, hence the two year deals Perry threw out to Loup and Tepera.
TBW cited several bullpen options that should start making their way here in 2023.
I’m less bullish on rotation pieces but at least a couple of Bachman, Bush, Silseth, Daniel, etc. should be back end material
There’s no ace coming, perhaps something resembling depth, but if in 2024 our rotation is 5/6ths homegrown as is most of the bullpen, we might just barely squeak by.
Stassi is signed for next season also, is he not?
He is. He’s in the numbers,
I think that means just one thing: payroll has to go up to $250mil. If Arte wants to pay megabucks for the superstars, he needs to have a payroll like he means it. Of course, I have zero expectation that this will happen.
I feel all of this Jeff. And it is for that reason that I am generally on board with one of two options:
1. Tear it completely down and rebuild for the next 3-5 years; or
2. Arte increases payroll to around $240 million.
One proviso is that tearing down will still be expensive. Either expensive contracts have to be absorbed, one way or another, or high quality and cost controlled players/prospects (the ones we need for the rebuild) need to be packaged with bad contracts. What’s more, sometimes, “bad” contracts turm out to be not so bad after all (see Kevin Appier in 2002) I waffle on this, but I’m currently thinking that raising payroll to $250 mil for a year or two is probably the better approach than tearing down and still bleed oodles of money and/or prospects while losing for the same period.
This is why they call it “burn it down” instead of “softly steam clean off the couple of parts I don’t like and then demand a higher payroll.” It burns. Then it falls down.
All the more reason, it seems, that going for the $250 mil payroll makes more sense. But, in the end, it’s Arte’s money…
It’s funny, almost everything I want other people to do for me or give me makes great sense to me too.
On this case it would probably make sense for Arte too.
Having 3 million actual people in the ballpark o stead of 3 million sold but half that in attendance would be a lot of parking, beer, and concession money.
His radio station airing real commercials I stead of PSA’s would be more money.
His tv partners selling real ass instead of PSA’s keeps that money rolling in.
During the worst of the McCourt era, the Angels outdrew the Dodgers. Now we’re an afterthought.
Yup. You know I’ve said it before. Arte needs to fix his drawing power by not sucking.
I guess I’m just repeating what Jeff said already, but I don’t care what Arte does “for me.”. I think he should do it for himself–unlesd he has done terminal disease and does not expect to see the end of 2023 season.
Good read, something different and gets the wheels turning on what an almost complete rebuild would look like. Not flashy for sure
I’m working on a complete rebuild piece. Will likely get me tarred and feathered.
This organization is really in a bind top to bottom.
Payroll ceiling, huge contracts, no bats on the farm, poor scouting and development.
Do it! Go full Rachel Phelps!!!!!
Just as long as Jeff keeps his clothes on.
Just because there are ‘knowns’ out there (past practices of Arte) doesn’t mean we couldn’t look through the lens of what an athletic or rays organization would do, even with our inflated budget to cushion crappy decisions/outcomes! That’s how I read these at least.
Seeing Ohtani or Trout play elsewhere would hurt, suck and be a whole bunch of not cool things. It would almost certainly get a better product on the field in 2-3 years. Sucks for angels baseball, you get to be a ‘fan’ of the team for only 1/2 the season if you’re lucky. And even at events like HRD or ASG Trout and Ohtani are over it (which is totally fine!). Anyway road trips and breaks in play are perfect for articles like this.
Complete rebuild piece is going to be awesome fun. I have messed with the same thing…. there are so many options. It’s more fun than you think.
OH! We should have a Theoretical Rebuild Derby. Like a time capsule of this pickled shit of a season. Something like….
You have to trade away Trout, Rendon and Ohtani.
Your Lux Tax payroll must be below 90M at the start of the 2023 season.
You get extra points for every XXX million it is under 90M.
You build a 90M< roster…. even better, you can build a 40man, but you have to set a 25 for 2023.
After the 2026 season (or, whenever Rendon’s contract is done.) we all go back and look at the players and prospects we traded for and signed to trash heap contracts (as well as cheap 2022 Angels we kept.) We see what our total team WARs would have been and if that would have made us play off contenders….. see who can build the best 40man for 2026 on the cheap.
We can compare the value of what we traded away too…. minus that from our “points” somehow.
Winner gets The Golden Donkey trophy!!!
Not interested in trading Rendon. He makes a lot, but he’s also the third best player on this team.
Jeff, I think that your way of looking at this is real. Besides which Shohei’s agent(s) are going to want out of this circus anyway. But I also believe that in return for the package we really need to trade (if even possible now) the Dodgers in that they have minor leaguers that we really need, although Miller might work, he has yet to be what they thought he would be. Youth is the answer in return. And trading Trout to the NY teams is also something that should be addressed. It’s time for the rebuild to happen.
I’ll very politely say “no, this won’t work”. It’s similar to getting rid of Cozart and adding Will Wilson to do it. We might as well release everyone, then we could start really fresh! Trout has been getting hurt. Include him in the deal, too.
With all that money we can sign….who?
I understand the point is to lose the Rendon salary but there has to be a better way than to give up Ohtani (!!! Ohtani!!!) to do it.
Releasing them doesn’t remove them from the payroll.
Arte has been gifted a once in forever player in Ohtani. He’s also made blunder after blunder with big signings that hamstring the team.
In this case, he’d sacrifice that gift to make up for his own mistakes.
It won’t happen. If anything he’ll sign Ohtani to an extension then leave Minasian with $70 million to complete the team. 16 of which goes to Iglesias.
Interesting to think about but even I, someone who reads this blog and appreciates the idea behind these moves, take pause at the return.
Imagine the normal Halo Honk casual fan. They might burn the stadium down if this is what we got for Ohtani, Ward, Marsh, Rendon etc.
I think we’re stuck with Rendon like we were Albert. Best hope is he gives us a surprisingly productive next 2 years by getting on base a lot.