Results tagged ‘ Zack Greinke ’

Angels remain interested in Vargas …

Jason Vargas is officially a free agent, with no ties to Draft-pick compensation, and the Angels will face some stiff competition.

They’ve made it clear to Vargas for quite some time that they’d like to bring him back, but the remaining holes on their roster and the lack of wiggle-room on their payroll give them little desire to overpay.

And Vargas – as most free agents tend to do – opted to wait out the five-day, exclusive negotiating window to delve into a thin free-agent class of starters, all of whom were free to talk with other teams as of 9:01 p.m. PT on Monday.

“We obviously have interest in having Jason back,” Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said when reached by phone Monday night, though he opted not to go into further details. “This is the process, and it’s playing itself out, and we’ll honor that. Obviously Jason earned the right to see what was out there in free agency. We’ll maintain a rhetoric with him and do have interest in him returning. I think it’s a mutual interest.”

In the end, it may come down to one element: The third year.

MLBTradeRumors.com predicted a three-year, $28.5 million contract for Vargas. But the Angels are hesitant to go a third year and at this point don’t seem willing to approach an average annual value of $10 million with the 30-year-old left-hander, considering he projects as a fourth starter in their rotation.

Vargas will no doubt hold out for something better. But keep in mind that just last season, only five starting pitchers – Zack Greinke, Anibal Sanchez, Edwin Jackson, Kyle Lohse and Jeremy Guthrie – garnered extensions longer that two years. And while Vargas has been a steady, mid-rotation starter over the last four season, he isn’t considered among the top handful of available arms despite a thin free-agent class.

The Angels didn’t tender Vargas the one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer because there was little doubt in their mind that he would accept it, and they’d be too close to the luxury-tax threshold if he did.

More info here.

Alden Gonzalez

Angels 7/25 Question of the Day, on Trade Deadline

Any indication the Angels will sell next week? — @ChrisSexton

All indications continue to point to a relatively quiet next six days for the Angels, leading up to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Things change really fast this time of year. Teams get desperate, sentiments change, and there’s always the possibility that the Angels are blown away by an offer.

But here’s something you can pretty much count on: They won’t be picking up any rentals, a la Zack Greinke in 2012. And they’re not really going to be “sellers,” per se, because the construction of their roster — most notably Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols — doesn’t really allow for that. Somewhere in the middle is where I’d put them. If they can find a good deal for Scott Downs, they’ll probably take it. In August, if they don’t make progress in the standings, they can also look to trade Jason Vargas — at that point, they’d have to put him through waivers first — if he pitches well in his return from the DL.

And if there’s a deal they really like, which would allow them to turn an offensive player into controllable starting pitching, they’ll take it.

That deal hasn’t presented itself yet. And the chances of it coming this month are highly unlikely. That may have to wait until the offseason.

As one person familiar with the Angels’ thinking said recently, “I wouldn’t be surprised if they made just one minor trade.”

Alden Gonzalez

Angels nearing a deal for Joe Blanton

UPDATE: Blanton’s deal is expected to be two years for $15 million, according to a source, with ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reporting that it includes a third-year club option.

That all but squashes the Angels’ already-faint hopes to land Greinke, who many expect to command at least an average annual value of $25 million on a six-year deal. The likes of Anibal Sanchez, Kyle Lohse, Ryan Dempster and Shaun Marcum also don’t seem to be options, with the Angels’ payroll expected to be at least $10 to $15 million less than the $159 million they ended last season with.

But that’s still unclear, because the club hasn’t publicly commented on its 2013 payroll projections.

——-

Shortly after agreeing to terms on a two-year contract for lefty reliever Sean Burnett, the Angels were on the verge of signing free-agent starting pitcher Joe Blanton, sources confirmed to MLB.com.

Blanton, 31, went 10-13 with a 4.71 ERA in 31 games (30 starts) for the Phillies and Dodgers last season. From 2005-12, the right-hander went 83-75 with a 4.37 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP.

How does it affect the Angels’ pursuit of Zack Greinke or others, like Anibal Sanchez, Edwin Jackson and Joe Saunders? Still unclear, but a source said Blanton is only “a piece” for the rotation and not necessarily the final piece.

– Alden Gonzalez

Angels still not sounding confident on Greinke

The Angels continue to sound like a club that isn’t counting on resigning Zack Greinke.

Obviously, things can change very quickly, and Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto has a recent track record of being very coy about his pursuit of big-name free agents (see: 2011 Winter Meetings). But the price tags continue to be sky high — with Dan Haren signing for $13 million and Shane Victorino reportedly getting a three-year, $39 million deal from the Red Sox — and the Angels continue to seem content with simply adding one middle-tier starter and one back-end reliever.

On Tuesday afternoon, Day 2 of the Winter Meetings from the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, FOXSports.com’s Jon Morosi tweeted that the Dodgers “have become [the] clear favorite to land Greinke,” echoing a sentiment that has been widely reported/speculated for most of the offseason. The Angels, who continue to be portrayed as a dark horse, want to avoid what happened last season, when they committed a lot of money to the rotation and were essentially tapped out in August, unable to add to a bullpen that badly needed an upgrade.

The Nationals dropped out on Greinke with the Haren signing, seemingly making it a three-team race. If Greinke’s price gets to $150 million, the Angels are likely out. If he’s willing to settle for something less, they have a chance.

But this is still the most likely scenario for Dipoto: Sign one No. 3 starter to slot between Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson, and Tommy Hanson and Garrett Richards/Jerome Williams (Ryan Dempster, Edwin Jackson, Brandon McCarthy, etc.); sign one more back-end reliever to complement Ryan Madson, Ernesto Frieri, Scott Downs and Kevin Jepsen (Mike Adams, Sean Burnett, Koji Uehara, etc.).

Dipoto wouldn’t go into much detail in his daily briefing with local reporters on Tuesday, but he did re-iterate that he’s “100 percent” only looking at pitchers and that free agency — not the trade market — is almost his sole focus. The Angels did circle back with Haren, talking to him as recently as Monday, and a source said they improved on their original offer (one-year at $4 million with an $8 million vesting option) before buying out his contract.

Asked whether he was close on any pitchers, Dipoto said …

“Can’t say for certain that I’m getting warm on anything, but again, we’ve picked up the targets that we’re most interested in, we’ve had great discussions — in some cases multiple layers. We’re making progress, the extent of which I can’t tell you. I don’t know if anything gets done today, tomorrow, or post-[Winter Meetings], but I am certain that we’ll line up with a team on the field, and time will make the proper decision.”

– Alden Gonzalez

Angels continue to search for relievers

Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said after signing Ryan Madson that he’s not done addressing the bullpen “by any stretch.” And that search has intensified at the Winter Meetings here in Nashville, Tenn., where the Angels are focused on adding one starting pitcher but are keeping their ears open for additional bullpen options.

The Angels, a source confirmed, are one of several teams with a keen interest in former Nats left-hander Sean Burnett, who has posted a 2.76 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP in 176 1/3 innings from 2010-12, averaging 7.8 strikeouts and 2.7 walks per nine innings. Acquiring Burnett would give the Angels a second lefty to complement Scott Downs, who has been reliable the last few years but struggled in the second half of 2012.

It would also let the young Nick Maronde start full-time in the Minor Leagues. Some in the organization, however, believe his future is as a reliever anyway.

Another option for the Angels is right-hander Mike Adams, who posted a 1.60 ERA and a .92 WHIP from 2010-11. The 34-year-old Adams finished last season with a 3.27 ERA with the Rangers, the highest since his rookie year in 2004, due in large part to a rough September that ended with him being shut down due to a right shoulder ailment.

The Angels checked in on Joakim Soria at the General Managers Meetings, but Soria’s preference is to sign somewhere he can close — and with Madson on board, that’s no longer a selling point for Dipoto.

Burnett, Adams and Soria are sure to use the three-year deals signed by Jeremy Affeldt ($18 million), Brandon League ($22.5 million) and Jonathan Broxton ($21 million) as a starting point. That means signing one of them would almost certainly take the Angels out of the Zack Greinke sweepstakes, though a source said they’re “not closing the door on anything.” According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the Angels have checked in on the two starting pitchers a tier below Greinke — Anibal Sanchez and Kyle Lohse.

Alden Gonzalez

Haren’s market leaning East

Former Angels starter Dan Haren, who was bought out of his 2013 option for $3.5 million, is drawing heavy interest from several teams, most of them residing in the East coast.

Haren’s most aggressive suitor thus far, according to a person with knowledge of his free agency: The Red Sox. The Nationals, Orioles, White Sox, Padres and Blue Jays are among other clubs that have expressed interest. Haren, however, is said to be in no hurry to sign, preferring to let a lot of the smoke clear before making his decision.

The Angels recently checked in on Haren, but nothing had changed from a negotiating standpoint. After trading for Tommy Hanson, only one spot is left in their rotation — and their desire to resign Zack Greinke remains. If Greinke’s price tag reaches $150 million, as has been reported, the Angels will go with a much cheaper free-agent starter and sign at least one more upper-tier reliever, joining Ryan Madson.

Haren, who wants to keep pitching in Southern California, could make sense given his price tag, track record and familiarity. For now, however, a return remains unlikely.

Haren is coming off his first rough season in quite a while, going 12-13 with a 4.33 ERA, a stint on the disabled list with lower back problems and a drop in velocity. From 2005-11, though, he was one of baseball’s most consistent starters, winning 101 games, posting a 3.49 ERA and averaging 226 innings per season.

The Angels also had the framework of a deal in place with the Cubs in early November, sending Haren to Chicago for closer Carlos Marmol. In it, an industry source said, the Cubs were slated to take on most of Haren’s salary and Marmol’s. But according to ESPN.com’s Buster Olney, the Cubs backed out due to concerns over Haren’s hip — not his back.

– Alden Gonzalez 

Angels out on Greinke? …

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 

Angels, Madson close on one-year deal

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 

Angels like Kuroda, but only as fallback

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

Angels interested in Brandon League

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

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