What started out as a pie-in-the-sky, dream number now looks like a very hard dose of reality.
Zack Greinke is expected to garner a contract of six years at $150 million, making him the highest-paid right-handed pitcher in baseball history, according to Tuesday reports from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com and Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com. Buster Olney of ESPN.com reported he could even beat CC Sabathia’s record contract of seven years and $161 million.
That may be too rich for the Angels’ blood.
And according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com, the Angels have pretty much relented, writing Tuesday that they are “now unlikely to sign” Greinke because they aren’t willing to shell out that kind of money. “Long-term costs are making it tough,” an industry source told MLB.com, adding that “there are financial limits” with the Angels.
And that’s part of the problem.
The Dodgers, reported by several media outlets to be the favorites, could generate up to $7 billion in a TV deal with FOX Sports that kicks in after 2013 — or, an average of $240 million for 25 years — according to a report by The Los Angeles Times. In short, they don’t really have “financial limits.” That gives them the ability to outbid anyone for Greinke, even though they already have nearly $200 million tied to 18 players.
The Angels agreed on a one-year contract with Ryan Madson Tuesday, which is pending a physical, but that’s expected to be a low-base salary, high-incentive deal. They cleared a bunch of money by letting Torii Hunter go, buying out Dan Haren’s option and dealing Ervin Santana.
But if the Dodgers are willing to write a blank check, as is essentially being reported, there isn’t much they can do.
Keep in mind, though, that this is a negotiation and a fluid situation. And agents sure have a way of driving up the price. The Angels are basically in a two-front bidding war for Greinke — against the Dodgers on the West coast, and against the Rangers in the AL West.
– Alden Gonzalez
UPDATE, WEDNESDAY, 10:46 A.M. PT: Madson finalized his contract with the Angels. It’s for a base salary of $3.5 million and can be valued up to $7 million. There’s up to $2.5 million based on time on the active roster, and $1 million for amount of games finished.
The Angels’ desire to upgrade the bullpen has seemingly taken them to Ryan Madson, who missed last season with Tommy John surgery but could be a big addition if he reverts back to form next year.
A source confirmed to MLB.com on Tuesday morning that the Angels and Madson are closing in on a one-year contract, following an initial report by CBSSports.com. Details are still being ironed out and the team hasn’t commented on the deal, which wouldn’t be official until Madson passes a physical.
A Madson-Angels pairing would in many ways be ideal, given Jerry Dipoto’s aspirations to add to the ‘pen but also balance that with the need for starting pitching, particularly Zack Greinke. Madson’s new contract is expected to be low in base salary and high in incentives, perhaps mainly based on games finished.
Madson, represented by Scott Boras, was born and raised in Southern California, currently lives in Temecula, Calif., and rehabbed from Tommy John surgery in Anaheim under the watch of Angels doctors. He had a base salary of $6 million during his lost season with the Reds in 2011, then declined his half of the $11 million mutual option for 2013 in order to get the $2.5 million buyout (the Reds would’ve declined their half anyway).
The Angels ranked fourth with a $159 million payroll last season, but cleared a lot of it by not resigning fan favorite Torii Hunter – quickly signed to a two-year, $26 million deal by the Tigers – paying $3.5 million to buy out Dan Haren’s option and sending more than 90 percent of Ervin Santana’s 2013 contract to the Royals.
With the remaining money, the Angels hope to fill two spots in their rotation and strengthen a bullpen that has totaled an American League-leading 47 blown saves the last two years.
If this deal gets finalized, and Madson bounces back, they can perhaps scratch that last part off their list.
– Alden Gonzalez
Former Angels speedster Chone Figgins was just designated for assignment by the Mariners after a rough stint in the Northwest, but don’t anticipate a return to Anaheim. A source with knowledge of the team’s thinking said Tuesday night that Figgins is “not likely to be a fit” for the Angels in 2013.
By designating Figgins for assignment, the Mariners have 10 days to trade, release or outright him before he becomes a free agent. If he clears waivers and is not traded, he will be released, Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik said. Figgins will most likely slip through waivers, which means the Mariners will simply pay the $8 million owed to him in 2013 and set him off into free agency.
The Angels, who are prioritizing pitching, have Alberto Callaspo slated as their starting third baseman for 2013 and have several options for the utility infield spot — Andrew Romine, Angel Sanchez and Brendan Harris.
Figgins, who can also play all three outfield spots, excelled with the Angels from 2004-09 but struggled mightily in his three years with the Mariners, compiling a .227/.302/.283 slash line. In 2012, he appeared in just 66 games and finished with a .181 batting average.
“He just became an expendable piece and that’s it,” Zduriencik told MLB.com’s Greg Johns. “That’s the end of the story.”
– Alden Gonzalez
UPDATE, MONDAY, 1:30 P.M. PT: Fujikawa did indeed meet with Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto this weekend, a source confirmed to MLB.com, with Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times specifying that it took place Saturday and Mike Scioscia was also in attendance.
Right-hander Kyuji Fujikawa, the top closer in Japan for nearly a decade, is a free agent now, has begun meeting with Major League clubs and is slated to stop by the Angels’ facility, according to a recent report in The Dallas Morning News, which added that the 32-year-old had already visited with the D-backs and Cubs and was also slated to meet with the Dodgers. The Rangers are also believed to have interest.
Since he’s a free agent, Fujikawa won’t have to go through the expensive posting system, where teams bid on the rights to simply negotiate with a player. Fujikawa, who mixes a mid-90s fastball with a split-finger and slider, has gone 42-25 with a 1.77 ERA, a 0.96 WHIP, 914 strikeouts and 220 saves in 692 1/3 career innings for the Hanshin Tigers. In 2012, he posted a 1.24 ERA and 41 saves in 56 games.
Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto likes him, but he’s among several free agents the club is looking at in hopes of improving the bullpen.
“I have seen Fujikawa; we have up-to-date scouting reports on him,” Dipoto said. “We have scouted him, as have the 29 other Major League clubs. He’s no secret in the industry. Everyone has seen him. He’s been a premier closer in Japan for the last half-dozen, seven years, and it remains to be seen where he winds up. But he’s one of the available free agents, and therefore he’s a name that we, like everybody else, have considered.”
– Alden Gonzalez
The Angels are among those interested in signing veteran right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, as Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first reported. But he’s mostly considered a fall-back option if they can’t resign Zack Greinke, a source told MLB.com.
The Angels probably can’t afford to sign both. Not when you consider Kuroda turned down the Yankees’ $13.3 million qualifying offer, a sign he’s looking for more money; or that Greinke’s price tag will probably be at least $120 million on a six-year deal; or that the Angels also have to fill holes in their bullpen; or that Jerry Dipoto paid $3.5 million to buy out Dan Haren’s contract largely because they didn’t want to pay $15.5 million for a back-end starter.
Of course, Kuroda was much better than Haren last year, and there’s a lot to like about him moving forward.
The 37-year-old has talked about finishing his career back home in Japan, so it may only take a one-year deal to sign him. He’s been very consistent in his five years in the big leagues, going 57-57 with a 3.42 ERA and 184 innings per season (including a career-high 219 2/3 with New York in 2012). And he spent his first four years on the West coast, pitching for the Dodgers.
Heyman also listed the Dodgers and Red Sox as interested suitors in Kuroda, adding that he’s a priority for the Yankees.
The Angels have just Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson returning from last year’s rotation — with Garrett Richards being the fifth starter, in an ideal world — so they’re checking in on basically every top arm available.
But the most important thing for them is to get more clarity on Greinke’s future destination. The sooner that happens, the better an idea they can have on how to allocate their money.
– Alden Gonzalez
As the offseason ensues, and the chances of Torii Hunter returning to the Angels continues to look awfully bleak, the list of potential suitors for the veteran right fielder continues to grow.
On Monday, CBSSports.com reported that as many as 13-14 teams have checked in on Hunter, with the Tigers, Rangers and Braves being the most aggressive. The Dodgers are out on Hunter, according to ESPNLosAngeles.com, which said Hunter will make a decision on his 2013 destination within the next couple weeks.
As for the Angels? They haven’t offered Hunter anything more than a one-year, $5 million contract since mid-September, a source said, because they have plenty of depth in their outfield and need to allocate funds to shore up their pitching — specifically a rotation that has only two 2012 members guaranteed to return and a bullpen that blew 22 saves.
General manager Jerry Dipoto previously admitted that it’s “not likely” Hunter returns, and Hunter’s agent, Larry Reynolds, echoed those same thoughts. They could free up more money for Hunter if they get something back on the $42 million owed to Vernon Wells over the next two seasons, but that doesn’t seem favorable right now, either.
Hunter, 37, batted a career-high .313 with 16 homers and 92 RBIs in 2012. His production, health and athleticism at this stage in his career, coupled with his leadership and character, make him an appealing, affordable free agent. So does not having to give up a Draft pick to sign him, since the Angels didn’t tender a $13.3 million qualifying offer to Hunter.
“My plan is to win no matter what, and of course I’m going to try to get with a ballclub that’s trying to win,” Hunter recently told MLB.com. “That’s the plan.”
The Angels have been in talks with the Mariners for right-handed reliever Brandon League, sources said Sunday, though it’s unsure how deep those discussions are at this point.
An industry source told MLB.com on Sunday afternoon that the Mariners could be close to trading League to either the Giants or Angels. Nothing is definite just yet, but the Angels are an interested suitor. They’ve been looking for another late-inning bullpen option all month, but after giving up pitchers John Hellweg and Ariel Pena along with shortstop Jean Segura for Zack Greinke on Friday, they don’t have a lot left in their farm system to deal. The Mariners seek young offensive help.
League, 29, is a free agent at the end of the season and is making $5 million in 2012. He struggled through the first two months and lost his job as closer, but has rebounded ever since. In 44 1/3 innings, he has a 3.05 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP, with 26 strikeouts and 19 walks. As an All-Star last year, he posted a 2.79 ERA and 37 saves in 65 appearances.
– Alden Gonzalez
The non-waiver Trade Deadline is now only five days away, and the Angels continue to work diligently to find a reliable starter for their rotation or an additional weapon for their bullpen, or both.
Can first-year general manager Jerry Dipoto work his magic to shore up some glaring holes on the Angels’ staff?
The chips are stacked against him, it seems.
A source with knowledge of the team’s thinking described the Angels’ chances of acquiring a starter as “below average and diminishing” on Thursday. The asking prices are too high, the competition for pitching is too intense – largely due to the additional Wild Card that has more teams in the hunt than ever – and the Angels don’t have an abundance of intriguing prospects to offer up.
That, and a $155 million payroll with little wiggle room, has made the Angels’ search for a starter “an uphill task,” the source said – before adding, “But don’t underestimate Jerry.”
The Angels continue to search for additional bullpen pieces, particularly a cost-controlled lefty. But it’s starting pitching – the one area that seemed rock solid at the start of the year – that seems most necessary considering the struggles of Ervin Santana and the recent back troubles of Dan Haren.
But how many feasible upgrades are out there?
Cole Hamels has agreed to a lucrative extension to stay in Philadelphia, the Marlins seem unwilling to part ways with Josh Johnson, Wandy Rodriguez has moved on to the Pirates, Matt Garza has some elbow issues, Ryan Dempster seemingly only wants to pitch for the Dodgers and Francisco Liriano is fresh off giving up seven runs in 2 2/3 innings, putting his ERA at 5.31.
That makes the competition for the likes of James Shields (signed pretty affordably through 2014) and Zack Greinke (free-agent-to-be) quite fierce.
It would be a shock, a source said, if the Angels were to move Garrett Richards, who’s 24, cost-controlled for five more seasons and boasts a ton of upside. Young center fielder Peter Bourjos, a reserve with Mike Trout now in the fold, is perhaps their biggest chip – though Dipoto has publicly said he’s unwilling to trade him because he’s still a big part of their future. Then there are prospects like middle infielder Jean Segura, catcher Hank Conger, first baseman C.J. Cron and pitcher John Hellweg, among others, who could be expendable in the right package.
More on Angels.com soon.
– Alden Gonzalez
As Monday’s trade with the Tigers showed, the underachieving Marlins are sellers this July.
And that shifts the focus partly to Josh Johnson, the ace pitcher whose deal expires after the 2013 season.
Angels director of pro scouting Hal Morris was in Miami on Monday night, watching as Johnson gave up just one hit and struck out nine in six innings against the Braves. The Angels would no doubt love to get their hands on Johnson, who was having a disappointing year coming off surgery shoulder surgery before that outing (5-7, 4.35 ERA) but no doubt provides an instant upgrade to the rotation.
Johnson is one of many arms the Angels would consider, though — along with guys like James Shields, Matt Garza, Francisco Liriano and, as mentioned frequently, Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke.
If the Angels are to add a starter, though, the preference would be to add someone who’s under contract for more than just the next two months (like Shields, Garza and Johnson).
Any deal for Johnson would probably have to include center fielder Peter Bourjos, who the Marlins have targeted for quite a while.
– Alden Gonzalez
There are indications that the Angels have interest in trading for Rays starting pitcher James Shields. Whether they can actually get a deal done in the 10 days leading up to the non-waiver Trade Deadline remains to be seen — but Shields is an intriguing name for several reasons.
He was born and raised in Southern California (Newhall), is under contract through 2014 (the Angels are very hesitant to trade for any rental players, especially under this new CBA) and would provide an instant upgrade to their staff, which has been among the best in the American League all year but has a 4.98 ERA in July.
The Rays had a high-level scout at Comerica Park earlier this week — while Garrett Richards threw seven scoreless innings against the Tigers on Tuesday — and the Angels reportedly had a scout in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Friday, when Shields gave up three runs in 7 2/3 innings in a no-decision against the Mariners. But that could also be due to the fact that these two clubs play each other next weekend.
Shields, 30, has struggled a bit this year, going 8-6 with a 4.39 ERA and leading the Majors in hits allowed. But he’s a known commodity who’s been very durable, averaging 220 innings while posting a 3.86 ERA from 2007-11, and has long been the subject of trade talks. Shields also has two affordable club options coming up, for $9 million in 2013 and $12 million in 2014. The Angels could free up money to pick up those options by declining those of either Dan Haren ($15.5 million) or Ervin Santana ($13 million).
One potential hiccup in any deal with the Rays: They’re strapped financially and are hesitant to take on any money in a deal.
Prior to Saturday’s game, manager Mike Scioscia announced Richards will get the start on Tuesday, a move that would send Jerome Williams to the bullpen.
Will the Angels have a new starter by then?
– Alden Gonzalez