UPDATE, 3:20 P.M. PT: The deal is nearing completion and is expected to be announced by Tuesday night. The Angels would get Skaggs and Santiago, the White Sox would get Eaton, and the D-backs would get Trumbo and two players to be named later (one each from the Angels and White Sox).
The Angels, Diamondbacks and White Sox are working on a three-team deal that would involve Mark Trumbo going to Arizona, and Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago going to the Angels, sources confirmed to MLB.com on Tuesday. Keith Law of ESPN.com, who first reported the specifics, said D-backs center fielder Adam Eaton would be going to the White Sox.
The D-backs would also be receiving two prospects, though it’s still uncertain from which clubs, an industry source told MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert.
“We think that we are on the cusp of doing some other things that I think our fans are going to like,” White Sox executive vice president Ken Williams told MLB.com’s Scott Merkin.
The deal, which is not done, could potentially fill a need for all parties involved.
The Angels would get some much-needed cost-controlled pitching. Skaggs has posted a 5.43 ERA in 13 starts with the D-backs over the last two years, but he’s only 22 and he’s a former first-round pick, drafted when Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto was the D-backs’ director of scouting and player personnel. Santiago, a 25-year-old left-hander, went 4-9 with a 3.56 ERA in 34 games (23 starts) for the White Sox in 2013 and would be looked as a starter with the Angels. Santiago is still a year away from arbitration.
Trumbo, 27, would transition to a corner-outfield spot in Arizona and supply some much-needed power. Over the last three years, Trumbo — a homegrown player who grew up an Angels fan — has hit 95 homers and driven in 282 runs while providing a .773 OPS. If Trumbo ultimately departs, the Angels feel they’d need to replace his bat via free agency. But if no money changes hands in this deal, and no other players are involved, the Angels would be saving about $4 million, since Trumbo could make roughly $5 million as a first-year arbitration-eligible player.
Eaton, 25, gives the White Sox a young center fielder with some upside. He’s posted a .254/.332/.373 slash line in 88 games with the D-backs over the last two years, but batted .375/.456/.523 in the Minors in 2012.
– Alden Gonzalez
Mark Trumbo is “in play” for clubs looking to add right-handed power at the Winter Meetings, FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal reported via Twitter on Monday.
His availability, however, could greatly hinge on how the Angels can bolster their rotation via free agency.
Matt Garza is perceivably at the top of their list in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., because he’s 30 years old, isn’t tied to Draft-pick compensation, is from Southern California and has posted a 3.76 ERA while averaging 175 innings over the last six innings. If the Angels can work something out with the Nez Balelo client — who also represents the already-signed Jason Vargas and Phil Hughes — they’re in good shape, with a front four of Jered Weaver-C.J. Wilson-Garza-Garrett Richards.
If they can’t, they may have to get creative.
The free-agent market after Garza could drop considerably. Consider: The Angels haven’t shown a willingness to sign anyone tied to Draft-pick compensation, which eliminates Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana; they’ve expressed interest in Bronson Arroyo, as the right-hander reiterated to MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon earlier today, but are less willing to overpay for a 36-year-old; they aren’t interested in Bartolo Colon, who’s 40 years old and has a history of PED suspensions; A.J. Burnett has previously had trepidations about pitching in the West coast; and Masahiro Tanaka, who is expected to be posted this week, remains a long shot.
Once you get past those guys, and Garza, you have to move on to the likes of Jason Hammel, Mike Pelfrey, Chris Capuano and Paul Maholm. That’s a big drop.
Howie Kendrick continues to be available, and the Angels could look to part ways with a catcher (Hank Conger or Chris Iannetta) and a reliever (Michael Kohn, Dane De La Rosa, Kevin Jepsen among them). If Garza signs elsewhere, though, Trumbo and potentially shortstop Erick Aybar could join that list.
– Alden Gonzalez
They could sign two moderately-priced free-agent starters, they could sign one high-priced free-agent starter and leave the fifth spot open for competition, or they could sign one free-agent starter and trade for another. The latter remains the most likely scenario, but with three days left before the Winter Meetings, the Angels are keeping their options open as they try to patch up the two holes remaining in their rotation.
Matt Garza, who’s 30 years old, is from Southern California and isn’t tied to Draft pick compensation, is a target. But they could turn to the next tier down — guys like Jason Hammel, Chris Capuano, Mike Pelfrey and Paul Maholm — if his price tag remains too high. The Angels aren’t particularly interested in Bronson Arroyo or Bartolo Colon at this time, and they still have no plans to sign any of the three starters tied to Draft pick compensation (Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana or Hiroki Kuroda, who’s almost surely returning to the Yankees).
Howie Kendrick continues to be dangled, with shortstop Erick Aybar and outfielder/first baseman Mark Trumbo still unlikely to be dealt (that, however, can change if the Angels don’t like what’s available to them in the free-agent market). The Angels also have flexibility in their bullpen, allowing them to dangle the likes of Michael Kohn, Kevin Jepsen and Dane De La Rosa. Catchers Chris Iannetta and Hank Conger could also be made available in a package for starting pitching.
The Angels really like Masahiro Tanaka. But with a proposed maximum bid of $20 million, the Japanese star may not be posted by his current team, the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, and if he is, most of if not all teams will throw their hat in the ring (the proposed agreement between Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball allows the posted player to negotiate with any teams that are tied for the highest bid).
– Alden Gonzalez
UPDATE, 4:53 P.M. PT: Williams has been non-tendered.
As of 3 p.m. PT — six hours before the deadline — Jerome Williams’ agent hadn’t heard from the Angels on whether or not they’ll tender his client a contract. It’s possible that they haven’t told him anything because it’s a no-brainer that they will, but far more likely that they simply hadn’t made up their minds just yet.
Williams represents a very interesting dilemma for the Angels.
On one hand, they need to allocate as much money as possible to address their rotation, where at least two starting pitchers are needed, and can’t afford the luxury of paying about $4 million — what Williams would get in his final season of arbitration — for a sixth starter/long reliever.
On the other, $4 million for Williams may be a bargain if he were a free agent in this year’s class, especially after seeing Scott Kazmir get two years and $22 million from the A’s. If nothing else, the Angels may be able to keep him on the roster and then trade him for something else.
Williams’ agent Larry O’Brien said he’d be “very, very surprised” if Williams were non-tendered, but he isn’t sure.
“If he isn’t worth four to five million bucks, the guys that are getting paid multi-year, guaranteed deals out there – really? Tender him and trade him,” said O’Brien, part of Full Circle Sports Management. “It kind of baffles me, but they can do whatever they want to do. I think the guy can start for a number of teams and be a fourth or fifth starter and get 32 starts and let the chips fall where they may.”
Williams seems like the only big question for the Angels prior to the 8:59 p.m. PT non-tender deadline.
Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said Monday that Kevin Jepsen will be tendered a contract, saying he “never thought it would be an assumption he wouldn’t be.” Mark Trumbo, Ernesto Frieri, David Freese and Fernando Salas are also expected to be tendered. Tommy Hanson and Chris Nelson, meanwhile, seem like locks to be non-tendered.
If Williams isn’t tendered, O’Brien sees it as an opportunity for his client to potentially get a job as a full-time starting pitcher.
“Jerome loves the Angels,” O’Brien said. “He has a house in Mission Viejo, he’d love to pitch for them. I know deep down he’d love to start. And I don’t get it. I don’t know why everybody writes that the Angels need two more starters and blah-blah-blah, and they don’t talk about Jerome Williams. Why don’t you go out and give the guy the ball for 32 starts and see how he does? I just don’t quite get why they don’t have that confidence. But it is what it is. All I can tell you is that it’s not a big concern of mine either way. I’d be very, very surprised if they don’t tender him, but that’s their call.
“We’ll just see what happens. If they tender him, great. He’ll compete for the job, and if they want to use him as a swing man or do whatever they want to do, then that’s their right. And if they don’t, then we move on. I wish him the best, I’m sure they’d wish him the best, and it’d be a blessing in disguise.”
– Alden Gonzalez
The Angels have signed free-agent reliever Joe Smith to a three-year contract worth about $15 million, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported on Saturday night.
Smith has posted a 2.42 ERA, a 1.16 WHIP and a 2.20 strikeout-to-walk ratio with the Indians over the last three years. On the Angels, the 29-year-old right-hander will provide a major boost to the back end of the bullpen, joining closer Ernesto Frieri, lefty Sean Burnett and power right-handers Michael Kohn, Dane De La Rosa and Kevin Jepsen.
On Friday, the Angels also acquired 28-year-old righty Fernando Salas along with third baseman David Freese, as part of the four-player trade that sent outfielders Peter Bourjos and Randal Grichuk to the Cardinals.
The Angels still need to add at least two starting pitchers, but were targeting a veteran setup man like Smith – as well as Edward Mujica – to round out the bullpen.
– Alden Gonzalez
UPDATE, 11:50 A.M. PT: The trade has been finalized. The Angels also get right-handed reliever Fernando Salas and the Cardinals get outfield prospect Randal Grichuk.
The Angels traded center fielder Peter Bourjos to the Cardinals in exchange for third baseman David Freese, a source told MLB.com on Friday.
The deal, still awaiting finalization and likely involving prospects, fills a need for both clubs.
Freese, under club control for two more years, batted .262/.340/.381 in 138 games for the Cardinals last season. Prior to acquiring Freese, the Angels had uncertainty at third base, with Chris Nelson, Luis Jimenez, Andrew Romine and Grant Green among the internal options.
Bourjos, heading into his first year of arbitration, is a premium defensive center fielder who battled injury last season and has combined for only 391 plate appearances the last two seasons. In 2011, though, the 26-year-old batted .271 with 12 homers, 11 triples and 22 stolen bases.
In St. Louis, Bourjos figures to form somewhat of a platoon with the left-handed-hitting Jon Jay.
With Bourjos moved, the Angels project a 2014 outfield of Josh Hamilton in left, Mike Trout in center and Kole Calhoun in right, with Mark Trumbo at designated hitter.
– Alden Gonzalez
The Angels’ hopes of resigning free-agent starting pitcher Jason Vargas were squashed on Thursday, when the Royals announced they have signed the veteran left-hander to a four-year contract.
The average annual value of Vargas’ new deal, a reported $32 million, is $8 million. The Angels were willing to give him that much, but they weren’t willing to go four years (it would’ve been hard for them to even give him a third year).
And so, the Angels still have at least two holes to fill in their rotation.
Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Garrett Richards are returning, Tommy Hanson is likely to get non-tendered in December and Joe Blanton — if not released this offseason — will not go into the season as a guaranteed member of the rotation. General manager Jerry Dipoto did not tender the $14.1 million qualifying offer to Vargas because he was almost certain Vargas would accept it, and by accepting it the Angels would already be dangerously close to the luxury tax threshold of $189 million.
Vargas was acquired in a one-for-one deal with the Mariners that sent Kendrys Morales to Seattle last December. In his first year in Southern California, where he grew up and briefly attended Long Beach State University, Vargas went 9-8 with a 4.02 ERA in 150 innings in a season that saw him miss two months with a blood clot.
The Angels are expected to use the trade market to bolster a rotation that ranked 11th in the American League in ERA last season, but they may also turn to other free agents to fill Vargas’ void. And while they aren’t expected to go after the likes of Ubaldo Jimenez, Ricky Nolasco or Ervin Santana, names like Phil Hughes, Dan Haren, Bronson Arroyo, etc., etc., could be enticing.
– Alden Gonzalez
UPDATE, FRIDAY A.M.: The Angels and Cardinals were deep in talks on a deal that would send David Freese to the Angels as of late Thursday night. Peter Bourjos would be the one expected to go to the Cardinals in exchange, but other players, and perhaps money, could also be involved. Talks are ongoing.
The Angels and Cardinals have discussed a trade that would involve third baseman David Freese going to Anaheim to fill a void at the hot corner, FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal reported on Thursday morning. In return, Rosenthal added, the Cardinals would seek outfield depth.
The Angels can easily part ways with outfielders without really affecting their everyday lineup, with the trio of Peter Bourjos, Kole Calhoun and J.B. Shuck all being expendable. The Cardinals need a shortstop, but Rosenthal said Erick Aybar is not on the table, which makes sense, since the Angels likely wouldn’t move Aybar — who plays a premium position they would have to fill externally — without getting some pitching in return.
The Angels are expected to use the trade market to acquire cost-controlled starting pitching, but also have a desperate need at third base, with several questionable internal candidates — including Luis Jimenez, Chris Nelson, Andrew Romine and Grant Green — and a weak free-agent market to supplement it. They could kill two birds with one stone if they can also snatch some cost-controlled starting pitching from the Cardinals.
St. Louis has become a hub for cost-controlled pitching, with eight pre-arbitration pitchers – Michael Wacha, Shelby Miller, Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly, Carlos Martinez, Trevor Rosenthal, Seth Maness and Kevin Siegrist – making big contributions in a pennant-winning season.
– Alden Gonzalez
Former Reds starter Bronson Arroyo went on MLB Network Radio on Monday and mentioned the Angels among the teams that have expressed interest in the early portion of his free agency.
In addition to the Angels, Arroyo, entering his age-37 season, said the Phillies, Dodgers, Giants, Twins and (maybe) Orioles have reached out to his agent, but no teams have tendered any offers just yet. The Twins and Giants, who just signed Tim Hudson to a two-year, $23 million deal but need more starting pitching, have been in touch more than once, Arroyo said.
Arroyo, who did not get a $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Reds, seeks a three-year deal, though that may be very difficult to come by — even for someone like Arroyo, who has a great health record.
Over the last two years, while pitching mainly at the hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park, Arroyo has put up almost identical seasons, compiling a 3.76 ERA, a 1.18 WHIP and a 3.67 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 404 innings. The veteran right-hander has averaged 207 innings over the last 10 years, doing so with a 4.10 ERA.
The Angels could turn to Arroyo as a fallback option if they can’t resign Jason Vargas, but Arroyo will probably be more expensive — at least with regards to average annual value.
“I feel like I’ve proven myself in the game, I feel like I’ve given any team that I’ve ever played for their money’s worth,” Arroyo told MLB Network Radio. “And so I really would like somebody to come further than two years and give me a three-year deal. I feel like I’ve got plenty left in the tank for that.
“I feel as good now as I did when I was 25, other than a few days in the weight room when your knees hurt a little bit squatting. My repertoire of pitching is without question better than it’s ever been, my mind is better than it’s ever been. That just comes with experience and learning your body and knowing how to get hitters out with what you have. So I don’t feel like I’m going downhill at all.”
– Alden Gonzalez
The Angels front office is in Orlando, Fla., at the General Managers’ Meetings, and their main focus is to gauge the interest level of other teams in their pursuit of starting pitching.
Mark Trumbo, Howie Kendrick, Erick Aybar, Peter Bourjos and Kole Calhoun — maybe others — will be dangled by GM Jerry Dipoto, who’s trying to bolster the starting rotation with a depleted farm system and few available funds. Speaking to reporters (including our own Ken Gurnick), Dipoto said there has been “a fair amount” of interest in his hitters so far.
“We’ve got a talented group,” Dipoto said. “Our offensive players are fairly accomplished, some at a very young age. There have been a lot of inquiries on a lot of them. We’ve not predetermined to move any of them. We are open to solve our needs that are more on the pitching side than the offensive side.”
– Alden Gonzalez