Results tagged ‘ Ernesto Frieri ’

Baylor could be back with team by April 28 …

Don BaylorAngels hitting coach Don Baylor is currently in physical therapy and manager Mike Scioscia is hopeful that he can rejoin the team when it returns from a three-city road trip, for the April 28 series opener against the Indians.

It’ll still be a while before Baylor can be in the dugout during games, and even longer before he can travel with the team. But Baylor, who suffered a fractured right femur while catching the ceremonial first pitch thrown by Vladimir Guerrero on Opening Day, can at least work with hitters and attend pregame hitters before home games in about 13 days.

“Don’s a tough guy,” Scioscia said. “He’s anxious to get back. We’ve texted a lot. He’s in touch with [hitting coaches] Dave [Hansen] and Paul [Sorrento] on a daily basis. He’s still keeping tabs on everything that’s going on.”

Baylor was discharged from UCI Medical Center on April 4, three days post-op. Based on his initial prognosis, the 64-year-old is still at least three weeks away from being able to put weight on his right side, so he’d probably be getting around on a walker upon returning to Angel Stadium.

Scioscia said he doesn’t “anticipate Don back in full force for a while.”

“Even being here and being in the dugout, getting involved; I’m not sure when that’s going to be.”

Some other pregame notes from Jackie Robinson Day …

  • Scioscia did not back off from his statements (and Howie Kendrick‘s) from Monday night regarding the bang-bang play at first base in the ninth inning: “We said it last night and we looked at it again yesterday. I don’t know what angle they were looking at, but the way it’s explained to us is the ball has to hit the back of a fielder’s mitt before you stop the play to see where the runner’s foot is. And Howie’s foot is clearly on the bag before that ball hits the back of [Daric] Barton’s mitt.
  • Asked if he believes David Freese, dropped to seventh after striking out twice in each of his last two games, is putting added pressure on himself, Scioscia said: “We’ve had those conversations with David and we monitored them very quickly. He’s very calm on the baseball field and I think he understands that he can play better than he did last year. Coming to a new team, there might be an element of that. But I think he’s very comfortable with the teammates, he’s very comfortable with what his role was on the club, and hopefully he’ll start to hit stride and get the big hits that he’s capable of getting.”
  • It appears, though it’s unofficial yet, that Dane De La Rosa was reaclled from Triple-A Salt Lake so that he could be placed on the 15-day disabled list. Scioscia said the injury “is not significant” and that De La Rosa will continue in his throwing program. … Sean Burnett is playing catch again today and is expected to go to Arizona to throw off a mound in a few days. … And yes, Ernesto Frieri is still the closer.

Athletics (9-4)

John Jaso, C
Jed Lowrie, SS
Josh Donaldson, 3B
Brandon Moss, 1B
Yoenis Cespedes, LF
Alberto Callaspo, DH
Josh Reddick, RF
Craig Gentry, CF
Eric Sogard, 2B

SP: RH Dan Straily (1-1, 2.77 ERA)

Angels (6-7)

Kole Calhoun, RF
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, 1B
Raul Ibanez, DH
Howie Kendrick, 2B
J.B. Shuck, LF
David Freese, 3B
Chris Iannetta, C
Erick Aybar, SS

SP: RH Garrett Richards (2-0, 0.75 ERA)

Alden

An encouraging outing for Hector Santiago …

Hector SantiagoHector Santiago‘s Angels career started off 0-2, with eight earned runs in 9 1/3 innings through two starts against the Mariners.

He needed a change.

So he took the mound against the A’s on Monday with his socks up high for the first time.

“You gotta change it up sometimes,” Santiago said, trying to crack a smile despite a crushing 3-2 loss. “Actually, it was kind of scary, because the last two times I did that with the White Sox it didn’t go so well.”

The more tangible difference was that Santiago had much better command in the opener of a three-game series, while pitching seven innings of one-run ball in what ended up being a no-decision because of John Jaso‘s two-run, ninth-inning homer off Ernesto Frieri. Against an A’s team that came in ranked third in the American League in walks, Santiago — with his career walk rate at 4.6 — didn’t issue a free pass until the seventh inning and didn’t allow much hard contact besides Yoenis Cespedes‘ fourth-inning solo homer.

Santiago felt “more in control of myself,” and that was particularly obvious while working out of jams in the sixth and seventh.

The Angels’ defense extended Santiago’s inning in the sixth, when Erick Aybar had a tough time reading Craig Gentry’s liner off the bat and Albert Pujols threw high of second on an ensuing pickoff. But Santiago got Jed Lowrie to line out and struck out Josh Donaldson for his third punchout. The A’s put runners on first and second with one out in the seventh, but Santiago induced a flyout of Nick Punto and came back from down 3-0 to get Josh Reddick to pop out behind the plate.

This was the kind of outing the 26-year-old left-hander badly needed.

“Definitely; there’s no doubt,” Santiago said after lowering his ERA from 7.71 to 4.96. “Coming into today I was like, ‘I need some positive [momentum] moving forward. [First start of the season], I was antsy, man. I had a lot of adrenaline going. First game as an Angel. Last game I think I was just like, ‘OK, forget about it and let’s attack. Let’s go at ‘em, let’s go as hard as I can as long as I can.’ Today I was like, ‘Let’s attack, but let’s be under control.’ I took a little bit from each of those first two games and made it work in this game.”

And for next game, the high socks will return.

“Oh, there’s no doubt,” Santiago said. “I’m going to stick with it until it tells me not to. … I love the look, you know. I love the look for sure. And sometimes you just have to mix it up.”

Alden

De La Rosa, Burnett throw in sim game …

Dane De La RosaKey Angels relievers Dane De La Rosa and Sean Burnett took important steps in their respective rehab programs while taking part in simulated games at Angel Stadium early Wednesday afternoon.

Not a moment too soon.

The Angels’ bullpen has started the year by giving up eight runs over six innings through the first two games, with closer Ernesto Frieri and setup man Joe Smith sitting idly by as the middle relievers struggled to keep small deficits manageable. On Monday, Kevin Jepsen and Nick Maronde gave up six runs in the ninth. On Tuesday, Michael Kohn gave up two more in the ninth.

But by the time the Angels play their next home game — on April 11 against the Mets, following a six-game road trip through Houston and Seattle — De La Rosa expects to be back.

“I’m getting antsy,” said De La Rosa, who’s working his way back from a right forearm strain suffered on March 6. “When we get everybody healthy, together at the same time, we’re going to be a shutdown bullpen.”

Before April comes to an end, Burnett — limited to 13 games last year, recovering from August elbow surgery — also hopes to return, giving the Angels a critical late-inning lefty reliever.

“I just want to get out there and play,” Burnett said. “I’m a baseball player. It’s been what I’ve doing since I was a little kid. I’m itching to get back out there.”

De La Rosa, who has already taken part in a couple of Minor League games, threw roughly 35 pitches in the bullpen and 25 more to hitters knew what was coming ahead of time. When the Angels hit the road, De La Rosa will venture out on a rehab assignment with Double-A Arkansas in hopes of being activated by next Friday.

Burnett threw 30-some-odd pitches in the bullpen and another 15 in the sim game. It was his first time facing hitters since May 26, 2013, and called it “the biggest hurdles I think I can possibly clear.” He’ll throw in another sim game in Arizona in two days, then hope to go out on a rehab assignment after that.

“I couldn’t throw the ball much better than I did today,” Burnett said. “Now it’s just arm strength, building up to 25, 30 pitches.”

Here are the lineups for the series finale, with the tarp currently on the field …

Mariners (2-0)

Abraham Almonte, CF
Brad Miller, SS
Robinson Cano, 2B
Justin Smoak, 1B
Corey Hart, DH
Stefen Romero, RF
Dustin Ackley, LF
Mike Zunino, C
Willie Bloomquist, 3B

SP: LH James Paxton (0-0, -.– ERA)

Angels (0-2)

Kole Calhoun, RF
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, 1B
David Freese, 3B
Josh Hamilton, LF
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Raul Ibanez, DH
Chris Iannetta, C
Erick Aybar, SS

SP: LH Hector Santiago (0-0, -.– ERA)

Alden

Door is open for a fast Angels start …

A strong belief in one’s roster is usually followed by a phrase like “as long as we stay healthy.”

Well, the American League West is anything but to start the season. The Rangers are littered with injuries, with starter Derek Holland (right knee), second baseman Jurickson Profar (right shoulder) and catcher Geovany Soto (knee) all out until midseason and Yu Darvish (neck) starting the year on the disabled list. A’s Opening Day starter Jarrod Parker will miss all of 2014 after undergoing his second Tommy John surgery and A.J. Griffin (right flexor muscle strain) is on the shelf. And the Mariners — in town the next three days — have two starters on the DL in Hisashi Iwakuma (right middle finger) and Taijuan Walker (right shoulder).

The door is wide open for the Angels.

Mike Scioscia, Jerry DipotoThey’ve had the fourth-worst April winning percentage the last two years, crippling any chances they had of reaching the playoffs. But of the Angels’ 27 games through the month of April this year, only nine will come against teams that made the playoffs in 2013. Four will come against an Astros team that has lost 100 games three straight years (though, granted, they won 10 of 19 games against the Angels last year), and three will come against the Mets, who haven’t been to the playoffs since 2006. But there’s one really tough swing — a three-city trip from April 18-27, which will see the Angels visit the Tigers, Nationals and Yankees.

The Angels will also be off in each of their first six Thursdays. Yes, you’d rather have the days off at the end of the year, but a fast start is crucial this year, and those off days certainly won’t hurt that cause.

In hopes of facilitating a better start, the Angels tweaked their Spring Training program. Position players took more swings and focused more on situational hitting. Starting pitchers were stretched out earlier. Relievers attacked their bullpens more aggressively. Live BP was re-introduced after a one-year hiatus. And more shifting is taking place defensively, after the Angels went from 2nd to 27th in Defensive Runs Saved over the course of one season.

One year after having by far the worst Spring Training record and ERA in the Majors, the Angels had a much better camp. Here’s a look at the numbers …

Record: 19-11-2, 2nd in the Cactus League
Runs: 190, 4th in MLB
OPS: .803, 3rd in MLB
SP ERA: 4.01, 11th in MLB
RP WHIP: 4.20, 4th in MLB

Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols, Kole CalhounPositives from camp: Albert Pujols looked light on his feet around the bag and on the bases. … Josh Hamilton quickly got his timing back after missing time with a strained left hamstring. … Tyler Skaggs was mostly sitting at 95 mph, after having a hard time touching 90 mph last year. … Erick Aybar and Kole Calhoun — batting ninth and first, respectively, and ahead of Mike Trout — drew a combined 21 walks. … C.J. Wilson had a 1.88 ERA in 28 2/3 innings. … Ernesto Frieri didn’t allow a run in 10 outings. … Trout batted .414/.460/.828. … The Angels rid themselves of two potential distractions, releasing Joe Blanton and signing Trout to the much-talked-about extension. … Out-of-options infielder Andrew Romine was turned into much-needed starting-pitching depth in Jose Alvarez.

Negatives from camp: Sean Burnett is still working his way back from August surgery, but he’s expected to face hitters for the first time in a sim game on Tuesday or Wednesday. … Dane De La Rosa is starting the season on the DL with a right forearm strain, but he could be back as soon as the weekend series in Houston. … Brian Moran is working his way back from left elbow inflammation, leaving Nick Maronde (1.89 Cactus League WHIP) as the only lefty in the bullpen to start the year. … Skaggs and Hector Santiago had their occasional long innings, an indication that there will be some growing pains. … Newcomers David Freese (one extra-base hit) and Raul Ibanez (.218 batting average) didn’t have great results at the plate, but both were happy with the way they were driving the ball.

Now, what does all this mean for the regular season?

I have no idea.

***

The Angels’ depth chart can be found here.

Now, if you’ve followed baseball long enough you know that a team never goes an entire season with the same 25-man roster (or even the same five-man rotation). So, here’s a look at who’s next in line at every position …

Catcher: Luis Martinez
Third base: Luis Jimenez
Shortstop: Tommy Field
Second base: Grant Green
First base: C.J. Cron
Left field: J.B. Shuck
Center field: Matt Long
Right field: Brennan Boesch
Starter: Wade LeBlanc or Alvarez
Reliever: Brandon Lyon

***

Mike TroutOn that Trout contract

For months, many wondered how much Trout would be worth in the open market and speculated what it would cost to lock up the best all-around player in baseball. They put his three arbitration years at upwards of $60 million, had him pegged as a $35 million free agent and believed he could be baseball’s first $300-million player.

But three are three important things to keep in mind about Trout’s situation …

1. He isn’t in his free-agent years yet. He still needed to get through three arbitration years, which greatly limits how much a player can make.

2. Being a $300-million player would’ve probably required a 10-year, contract, and that wouldn’t have been ideal because Trout wants to cash in on another monster contract by hitting the open market before age 30.

3. There’s just as much incentive for Trout as there is for the Angels, no matter how great he is. Why? Because free agency is a whole four years away, a lot can happen in four years, and it’s hard to turn down that much financial security so early.

So, Trout’s contract is $144.5 million over the course of six seasons, from 2015-20 (with a full no-trade clause, basic incentives and no additional option years or opt-outs). And I think it gives both sides what they want. It gives the Angels three additional years of Trout and some cost-certainty. It gives Trout a chance to be a free agent again at age 29 and makes him the highest-paid player relative to service time at every juncture.

Here’s a look at the year-by-year breakdown, and who Trout surpasses …

2014: $1M (Pujols in 2003 and Ryan Howard in ’07 with $900K for a pre-arbitration player)*
2015: $10.25M (Howard, $10M in ’08 for first-year arbitration)**
2016: $15.25M (Howard, $15M in ’09 for second-year arbitration)
2017: $19.25M (Howard, $19M in ’10 for third-year arbitration)
2018-20: $33.25M (Miguel Cabrera, $31M AAV in ’14 for a free agent)

* the $1M compensation was done before the contract
** $5M of that will be paid to Trout in 2014, as part of a signing bonus

***

Jered WeaverSome questions, answered …

Can the Angels stay competitive for the next seven seasons to keep Trout’s interest in the team? (@ryanwjsmyth)

One of the reasons Trout felt comfortable staying with the Angels long term is because he knows the owner, Arte Moreno, isn’t afraid to put his money into making this team competitive. One thing is for sure: The Angels will not be in rebuild mode over the life of Trout’s contract, or even while Moreno is around. But it’ll be harder and harder to stay below the luxury tax and put a World Series-contending product on the field as Hamilton and Pujols naturally decline. Jerry Dipoto has a tough task at hand — continue to build a contending team while also developing young pitching. Getting Santiago and Skaggs is a good start, though. Also, keep in mind: Trout’s decision to stay will be based more on how good the Angels can be after 2020, not necessarily what they’ve done leading up to it.

Will Albert Pujols hit 30+ home runs this season? (@adreamersview)

If healthy, I think you can bank on that. He hit 30 in 2012 even though he went a month and a half without hitting his first (and I don’t expect that to happen again). Plantar fasciitis didn’t just limit his defense and baserunning. It made his right knee, surgically repaired the previous offseason, swell up. And it sapped his power because a hitter is nothing without a healthy base. I’m never going to doubt Pujols’ ability to hit. He’s proven it long enough.

If the Angels make a run for the postseason what do you see them doing at the trade deadline? (@gizmosol)

Trying to get their hands on more starting pitching. Justin Masterson and Max Scherzer are heading into their final seasons before free agency, Cliff Lee and David Price may get shopped, and all sorts of other starters could become available in July. The Angels still have roughly $15 million below the luxury-tax threshold that they’re willing to use. Yes, the farm system is still pretty barren. But the list of teams in the market for a starting-pitching rental in July is usually very short, and the Angels could dangle Cron or Taylor Lindsey or Kaleb Cowart or some of their (few) good pitching prospects if they feel they’re close (and hope for a better result than the 2012 trade for Zack Greinke).

***

Here are some links to our Opening Day coverage …

The Angels 2014 Season preview
Jered Weaver gets franchise-record sixth Opening Day nod
Ibanez reflects on what Opening Day means to him
Broadcaster Jose Mota talks about the upcoming season

Some feature stories from earlier in the spring, in case you missed them …

Weaver leads rotation’s quest for redemption
Pujols, Hamilton facing more doubt than ever
Mike Scioscia eager to reclaim winning formula
John McDonald “a magician” with the glove
The odyssey of De La Rosa, and a lesson in never giving up
Trout can’t believe how fast this is all happening

Alden

ST Game 28: Angels 8, Cubs 4 …

Brandon LyonMost important thing: It actually took place in the backfields of the Angels’ Tempe Diablo Stadium complex, where Jered Weaver made his last start of the spring and was lights out against the Brewers’ Triple-A team, pitching seven shutout innings, giving up four hits, walking one and striking out eight in a 102-pitch outing. He’ll start Opening Day on five days’ rest.

Second-most important thing: Three outs away from snapping a six-game winning streak, the Angels plated six runs in the ninth inning, getting a leadoff homer from Ian Stewart, an RBI double by Collin Cowgill, an RBI single from Shawn O’Malley, a two-run single by Abel Baker and an RBI single from Stewart when he came up again.

Third-most important thing: Weaver’s start in a controlled environment made Tuesday a bullpen game. Brandon Lyon gave up a couple of runs while recording only one run in his second inning of work; Ernesto Frieri pitched his eighth straight scoreless inning of the spring; Fernando Salas had a clean inning to put his spring ERA at 3.00; and Michael Kohn gave up a run on two hits and a walk to put his spring ERA at 7.00.

Fourth-most important thing: All the everyday players except Howie Kendrick (stomach virus) and David Freese (tight quad) got a couple of plate appearances. Albert Pujols had a sac fly, Josh Hamilton walked and hit a double that almost left the ballpark, Raul Ibanez hit a solo homer and Mike Trout went 1-for-2 to finish Cactus League play with a .412 batting average.

Fifth-most important thing: Grant Green went 2-for-4 with a double and a triple to put his batting average at .362. John McDonald is officially the Angels’ utility infielder now, and it’s unlikely that Green makes the team. But he’s had a very nice spring at the plate and is getting better at shortstop.

Best defensive play (that I actually saw): Speaking of Green, he made a nice diving stop in the first inning while playing second base.

Best quote: Mike Scioscia on Freese being a late scratch: “He was ready to play. It was not even anything that would hamper him from taking ground balls. But the medical staff thought it would be prudent to have him take today off and tomorrow so he’ll be ready to play. It’s not even a concern.”

Angels’ record: 16-10-2

Alden

Hamilton batting 3rd, at DH, vs. Giants …

If you’re coming to Tempe Diablo Stadium today, you’re going to see Josh Hamilton — back at his customary 240 pounds — make his Spring Training debut. He’s batting third and serving as the designated hitter, and will get two or three at-bats.

St. Patrick’s Day is exactly two weeks from Opening Day, but Hamilton said Sunday that starting the season on the disabled list “isn’t even on the table,” even though he typically likes to get somewhere between 45 and 55 at-bats to get ready for the regular season. He can load up on at-bats in Minor League games, and he’s been taking part in live batting practice in each of the previous three days.

Some other notes from Monday morning (the two split squad lineups are here and here) …

  • Raul Ibanez, as you might have noticed, debuts at first base today — a position he hasn’t started since 2005. If Ibanez and/or Calhoun can prove capable of playing first base, then Scioscia won’t have to change his lineup on the days Albert Pujols DH’s.
  • Garrett Richards will pitch on the main field at Tempe Diablo Stadium at 1 p.m. PT during the Angels’ off day on Tuesday, against another organization’s Triple-A team. Hank Conger will catch, and Ernesto Frieri is also slated to pitch. Richards will get up at least six times.
  • Pujols got permission to leave the team today in order to attend an event benefiting the Pujols Family Foundation in Chicago. He’s expected back on Tuesday.
  • Speaking of Pujols, we’re five days away from the first official game of the regular season (in Australia), which is a good time to look at the Angels’ No. 5.
  • The Angels optioned five players to Triple-A Salt Lake: Right-handed reliever Josh Wall, left-handed reliever Buddy Boshers, first baseman Efren Navarro, third baseman Luis Jimenez and shortstop Tommy Field. They’re now at 44 players.
  • Mike Scioscia will stay at home to watch Hector Santiago; pitching coach Mike Butcher (and probably a ton of scouts) will go to Mesa, Ariz., to watch Joe Blanton.

Alden

ST Game 4: Angels 3, D-backs 2 …

Most important thing: The Angels got their first taste of expanded instant replay. Angels manager Mike Scioscia used it to challenge a botched hit-and-run that saw Luis Jimenez get thrown out at second. Scioscia thought Aaron Hill missed the tag after fielding Bobby Wilson‘s high throw, but umpires upheld the call and Scioscia couldn’t challenge anything the rest of the day. The Angels have 14 more of these “replay games.”

Second-most important thing: Garrett Richards looked really good, breezing through three scoreless innings while giving up just two hits, walking none and striking out two. The 25-year-old right-hander looked great last spring, too, with a 1.45 ERA in 18 2/3 Cactus League innings.

Third-most important thing: Ernesto Frieri made his spring debut, after temporarily leaving the team while his wife gave birth on Friday, and pitched a 1-2-3 fourth inning.

Fourth-most important thing: Jimenez and outfielder Collin Cowgill, both competing for spots off the bench, each had two hits.

Fifth-most important thing: Only two regulars were in the Angels starting lineup (Kole Calhoun and platooning catcher Hank Conger). Most of the rest of the everyday players took part in a scrimmage at Tempe Diablo Stadium in the morning.

Best defensive play (that I saw): Hill smoked a line drive off Frieri to start the fourth, but Jimenez extended to his left and snared what looked like a sure single.

Best quote: Richards, when asked whether not having to fight for a job will alter his approach this spring: “These last two years, I’ve competed for a spot, so I know what it’s like to be on that end of the stick. I try keep the same mentality I’ve had every spring. Just because I’m in the rotation right now doesn’t mean I’ll be in the rotation at the end of the year. I have to stay sharp and improve.”

Alden

How much is left for starting pitching? …

The Angels’ budget got a little clearer on Monday, upon announcing they were non-tendering Jerome Williams, Tommy Hanson, Chris Nelson and Juan Gutierrez. That clears about $10 million in projected salary, crucial to an Angels team that needs to add at least two starting pitchers while staying below the luxury-tax threshold of $189 million.

So, how much room do they have left on the budget?

Let’s have a look …

The Collective Balance Tax Payroll is the average annual value of all 40-man-roster contracts, plus benefits, pensions, bonuses, etc. First, let’s add up the AAV of the 10 players on the budget …

Josh Hamilton: $25M
Albert Pujols: $24M
Jered Weaver: $17M
C.J. Wilson: $15.5M
Erick Aybar: $8.75M
Howie Kendrick: $8.375M
Joe Blanton: $7.5M
Joe Smith: $5.25M
Chris Iannetta: $5.18M
Sean Burnett: $4M

That equals $120.56 million. Then you have to add the $18.6 million the Angels owe the Yankees for the final season of Vernon Wells’ contract, which puts the total at $139.16. Then you have to project ahead for arbitration. Below are the Angels’ five remaining arbitration-eligible players, with the projections provided by MLBTradeRumors.com …

Mark Trumbo: $4.7M
David Freese: $4.4M
Ernesto Frieri: $3.4M
Kevin Jepsen: $1.4M
Fernando Salas: $700K

That’s $14.6 million, and it puts the CBT payroll at $153.76 million.

The last part is when it gets really uncertain with more than four months left before Opening Day (keep in mind: a team’s final CBT payroll isn’t calculated until after the season). To that figure, you have to tack on all the contracts for players with zero to three years of service time (the Major League minimum in 2014 is $500,000) plus benefits. I’m told the best way to go about it is to just allocate $20 million for all of this.

That puts the Angels’ CBT payroll at roughly $174 million, which gives them about $15 million of wiggle-room before hitting the luxury tax.

That figure is nowhere near exact, but as close as you can get at this point.

Alden

Angels reportedly sign RP Joe Smith …

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

Mike Trout, the CBT and why the link matters …

Every article or blog post or tweet regarding the Angels’ offseason strategy — whether it’s the pursuit of starting pitcher or the scenario at third base or the situation regarding Jerry Dipoto and Mike Scioscia — tends to be followed by a response very similar to this:

WHO CARES, JUST LOCK UP MIKE TROUT NOW!!!

It’s understandable, given the fact that Mike Trout is the unquestioned best player on the star-laden Angels and, at 22, may already be the best in all of baseball. The Angels, however, have not begun extension talks with Trout, sources confirmed, and were never expected to with arbitration still a full year away.

Why?

It’s all about the Competitive Balance Tax payroll.

Let me try to explain. There are two different types of payroll. There’s the actual team payroll, which is what the active players are making in that season. And then there’s the CBT payroll, which is the payroll Major League Baseball uses to tax teams that go over a certain threshold. For the Angels — and the Yankees, and all of the teams that spend big on their roster — the latter is the most important.

The CBT payroll is calculated as the average annual value of all player contracts on the 40-man roster, plus benefits.

So, for example: Albert Pujols is making $16 million in 2013, which counts towards the Angels’ payroll figure. With regards to the CBT, though, he’s making $24 million — the average annual value of the 10-year, $240 million contract he signed in December 2011.

How does this relate to Trout?

Well, let’s say the Angels sign him to a 10-year, $300 million deal (that’s just a number I’m throwing out, basically because it’s easy to divide — and perhaps because I’m thinking of Robinson Cano). Even if in that contract, Trout is making only $1 million in 2014, the figure for the CBT payroll would be the AAV of that: $30 million.

And by that point, you can forget about adding any pitching to the roster.

The CBT threshold — the number at which first-time offenders are charged a tax of 17.5 percent — is going up from $178 million to $189 million this offseason. That buys the Angels a little extra wiggle room, but they’re still awfully close to that figure. So close, in fact, that it’ll affect whether or not they extend the qualifying offer to Jason Vargas, a figure that’s close to $14 million and would allow the Angels to receive Draft-pick compensation if he signs elsewhere. If Vargas takes it, they’d basically already be over the luxury-tax threshold.

Here’s what’s in the books for the Angels in 2014 (the first number is what the player will make that season and the second is the AAV that counts towards the CBT payroll) …

Albert Pujols: $23M, $24M
Vernon Wells (to the Yankees): $18.6M, $18.6M
Josh Hamilton: $17.4M, $25M
C.J. Wilson: $16.5M, $15.5M
Jered Weaver: $16.2M, $17M
Howie Kendrick: $9.7M, $8.375M
Erick Aybar: $8.75M, $8.75M
Joe Blanton: $7.5M, $7.5M
Chris Iannetta: $4.975M, $5.18M
Sean Burnett: $3.875M, $4M

That adds up to $126.5 million in payroll commitments, and just under $134 million for the CBT. But we’re not done. Not even close. There’s also the pending arbitration cases for eight players: Peter Bourjos, Ernesto Frieri, Juan Gutierrez, Tommy Hanson, Kevin Jepsen, Chris Nelson, Mark Trumbo and Jerome Williams.

A rough — very rough — estimate for what that would amount to: $25M (though Hanson, Williams, Nelson and Gutierrez are all non-tender candidates).

Then there’s the 25 or so other players on the 40-man roster that you have to pay (a little more than $500K each), and then there’s the benefits and bonuses for all of them, which is a rough estimate of $10M. And that puts the Angels pretty close to that $189M figure.

If you add a Trout extension, to a payroll in which Wells will be the second-highest-paid player, then they’ll have to shed payroll.

So, the logical question is: What’s the rush?

Alden

* thanks to Cot’s Contracts for providing all the info

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