The Los Angeles Angels hit the offseason with a short, specific list of needs, and so far they have addressed each of them to some degree. The rest of the winter will likely be spent tweaking or looking for that one big move that makes them legitimate contenders.
With Mark Trumbo having been traded, the Angels don't have enough expendable assets to make any more significant deals, so they'll likely focus on free agency to find a high quality starting pitcher.
Their top choice is Masahiro Tanaka, but they still don't even know if he'll be posted by his Japanese team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles. After that, the Angels are looking at a free agent group in which Matt Garza is the most attractive option.
If they don't land Garza, they may look at the next tier of free agent pitchers, with Chris Capuano, Paul Maholm and Jason Hammel among those the Angels are expected to consider.
Signing pitchers in that range can often be dicey -- that's where the Angels got Joe Blanton last year -- so now that they have Santiago and Skaggs, they can be more cautious.
"We're in position where we did greatly improve our depth and we created flexibility," general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "Whereas (before the Trumbo trade) there was an absolute need, now we can be a little more discerning."
The Angels are in the same situation with offensive players. While they would like some type of veteran who could replace some of the production lost in the Trumbo trade, Dipoto said they can make up a lot of it simply by getting improved seasons from Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, a full year from Kole Calhoun and the addition of Freese.
Raul Ibanez is the only hitter confirmed to be on the Angels' watch list right now, but Mark Reynolds, Lyle Overbay and Adam Lind may also fit.
--OF Mike Trout is in line for a huge multi-year deal, but it's not likely to happen before opening day 2014. Trout's contract will almost certainly have an average annual value around $20 million, and the Angels don't want it to count against their 2014 payroll for the Competitive Balance Tax.
--1B Albert Pujols has told the Angels that his foot is fully recovered. Pujols, who missed the last two months of last season with a torn plantar fascia, has been taking full batting practice already. Manager Mike Scioscia said he's expecting a bounce-back season from Pujols, including playing first base rather than primarily serving as the designated hitter.
--RHP Joe Smith said one of the reasons he chose to sign as a free agent with the Angels is because his fiancee works in Southern California. Allie LaForce co-hosts a national sports talk radio show that is based in Orange County.
--2B Howie Kendrick has been hearing his name in trade rumors since last July, but it now appears he is sticking with the Angels. The team did not want to move two of its everyday players in trades, so after Trumbo was dealt, Dipoto said they were likely finished making trades for the winter. Kendrick, who has two years left on his deal, would still be a candidate to be traded in July if the Angels are out of the race or next offseason.
--DH C.J. Cron won the batting title in the Arizona Fall League, encouraging the Angels that he can be part of the solution for replacing Mark Trumbo, but they aren't planning on that immediately. Dipoto and Scioscia both said they expect Cron to be in the majors later next season, but not on opening day.
--LHP Brian Moran was acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays, who selected him from the Seattle Mariners in the Rule 5 draft. Moran, 25, had a 3.45 ERA at Triple-A Tacoma in 2013, striking out 12.2 batters per nine innings. He held lefties to a .235 average.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "What Boston did, two years ago and last year, is a great indication. I think we have potential to hopefully do what they did." -- Manager Mike Scioscia, on hopes that the Angels could have a turnaround similar to the Boston Red Sox.
The Angels spent nearly $150 million on their payroll for 2013 and it got them 78 wins and third place, their fourth straight season missing the playoffs. Although Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols, the two biggest stars, had down seasons, the main reason for their struggles was a lack of pitching depth.
BIGGEST NEEDS: The Angels would like to get a veteran starter, preferably someone who is at least a No. 3 starter. Their top targets are RHP Masahiro Tanaka, if he is posted by his Japanese team, and free agent RHP Matt Garza. If they aren't able to get anyone of that caliber, they may look for a mid-range pitcher like LHP Chris Capuano or else just stand pat, having already added young LHPs Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs. They also could use someone to replace some of Mark Trumbo's production at designated hitter.
ARRIVALS: 3B David Freese (trade with Cardinals), RHP Fernando Salas (trade with Cardinals), RHP Joe Smith (free agent from Indians), LHP Hector Santiago (trade with White Sox), LHP Tyler Skaggs (trade with Diamondbacks), LHP Brian Moran (Rule 5 draft pick from Mariners via Blue Jays)
DEPARTURES: LHP Jason Vargas (free agent, signed with Royals), CF Peter Bourjos (traded to Cardinals), 1B/OF Mark Trumbo (traded to Diamondbacks),
FREE AGENTS: INF Chris Nelson, RHP Juan Gutierrez, RHP Tommy Hanson, RHP Jerome Williams
ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE: RHP Ernesto Frieri, RHP Kevin Jepsen, 3B David Freese, RHP Fernando Salas
Freese is going to make around $4.5 million in his first year of arbitration eligibility. He will need to have a bounce-back season or he could find himself being non-tendered next year, when his salary likely would rise to at least $6 million.
IN LIMBO: RHP Joe Blanton
It's clear the Angels have no role for Blanton on the 2014, but they will bring him to spring training to see if he can show enough to allow him to be traded. The Angels still would need to eat most of the remaining $8.5 million on his contract. If they can't trade him, and an injury doesn't create a role for him, he is likely to be released.
--1B Albert Pujols (partially torn left plantar fascia) said his foot is back to 100 percent. He was taking live batting practice as of mid-December.
--3B Luis Jimenez (sore right shoulder) left the Sept. 7 game and progressed slowly ever since. He was unable to throw when the season ended.
--RHP Kevin Jepsen (appendectomy in August 2013) missed the rest of the season.
--LHP Sean Burnett (left elbow surgery in August 2013) had a torn flexor tendon repaired. He is expected to be ready for the start of spring training.
- Sports & Recreation
- Mark Trumbo
- David Freese
- Albert Pujols
- Fernando Salas
- Tyler Skaggs
- Hector Santiago
- Joe Blanton
- Jerry Dipoto