Los Angeles Angels GM Jerry Dipoto began his offseason rebuilding of the rotation by trading right-hander Ervin Santana to the Kansas City Royals for minor-league lefty Brandon Sisk.
Santana had been a fixture in the rotation, winning 96 games (including a no-hitter in 2011) and making one All-Star team since his debut in 2005. But he had a very uneven season in 2012 (9-13, 5.16 ERA) and the Angels had no intention of exercising an option in his contract for 2013. Instead, they got something for nothing -- activating the option year before dealing him (along with $1 million) to the Royals for Sisk, who will compete for a spot in the bullpen next spring.
"We were able to bring back a piece in Brandon Sisk to add to our stable of pitching arms and create depth that before today we didn't have," Dipoto said. "This is an opportunity for both teams to cash in on something that they didn't have."
The Angels faced a similar decision on right-hander Dan Haren before a Nov. 2 deadline and were attempting to make the same kind of trade.
But the most important piece of Dipoto's rotation reshaping this offseason involves the re-signing of right-hander Zack Greinke. Greinke is the most attractive starting pitcher on a free-agent market with few front-of-the-rotation talents. He is expected to draw interest from numerous teams -- including the Angels, Dodgers and Rangers -- and most likely will command a contract in excess of $100 million. Greinke declined a contract extension from the Brewers last spring that was in the neighborhood of the five-year, $112 million deal signed by RHP Matt Cain with the San Francisco Giants.
The Angels have two front-line starters under contract for 2013 -- ace Jered Weaver and lefty C.J. Wilson -- with young right-hander Garrett Richards almost certain to be given a spot in the rotation.
Right-hander Jerome Williams was the fifth starter for much of 2012 and likely would compete for that spot again next spring. But the Angels have a serious shortage of starting pitching depth in their farm system and almost certainly will have to shop the free-agent and trade markets this winter to replace Santana and Haren.
"It's certainly an area we feel we need to address," Dipoto said as the offseason began.