Beckham, LeBlanc expected to be non-tendered …
The Angels aren’t expected to tender contracts to infielder Gordon Beckham or starter Wade LeBlanc by Tuesday’s 9 p.m. PT deadline, a source told MLB.com on Monday. Third baseman David Freese, however, will be tendered a deal for his final season before free agency.
Freese is slated to make more than $6 million through the arbitration process in 2015 while Beckham, also in his final year of arbitration, lines up to make about $5 million. LeBlanc would make less than $1 million, but every little bit helps for a team that wants to stay below the luxury-tax threshold of $189 million.
By non-tendering Beckham and LeBlanc, the Angels would have roughly $9 million of wiggle room below the threshold.
Beckham never quite lived up to the expectations of his rookie season in 2009, when he batted .270/.347/.460 with the White Sox. The 28-year-old batted .241/.300/.361 over the next five years and was dealt to the Angels for a player to be named later or cash considerations on Aug. 21, appearing in 26 games as a backup infielder down the stretch.
Beckham is a strong defender at second and third base and the Angels feel comfortable with him at shortstop. They’d like to bring Beckham back as a utility infielder for a lesser contract, perhaps tacking on more years to compensate for a lower average annual value, a source said.
“Obviously, I hope I’m here going forward,” Beckham said as he cleaned out his locker in October. “Hopefully, it’s here. If not, it’ll be somewhere else.”
Freese – Most Valuable Player for the National League Championship Series and World Series in 2011 – came over alongside Fernando Salas in the November 2013 trade that sent Peter Bourjos and Randal Grichuk to the Cardinals. The 31-year-old batted .260/.321/.383 in his first year with the Angels, almost mirroring the .262/.340/.381 slash line he posted in what was considered a down 2013 season.
Freese was taken out late in games for defense and had only a .656 OPS against opposing right-handers, but he posted a .929 OPS in September and the Angels, who love Freese’s makeup, don’t have a clear replacement at third base for 2015.
LeBlanc was with the Angels twice in 2014, coming over on a Minor League contract last offseason, then getting claimed off waivers by the Yankees in June, electing free agency after being designated for assignment two weeks later and resigning with the Angels shortly thereafter. The 30-year-old left-hander posted a 3.94 ERA, a 1.15 WHIP and a 3.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 29 2/3 innings in the big leagues.
The Angels went into the offseason with 10 arbitration-eligible players slated to make roughly $25 million combined. Reliever Vinnie Pestano agreed to a $1.15 million contract three weeks ago, and six others – starters Garrett Richards and Hector Santiago, relievers Kevin Jepsen, Fernando Salas and Cesar Ramos, and outfielder Collin Cowgill – are locks to be tendered contracts on Tuesday.