Tonight the Marlins made a blockbuster trade with the Toronto Blue Jays sending Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, infielder Emilio Bonifacio and catcher John Buck, along with a reported $4 million cash to the Blue Jays for Yunel Escobar, starter Henderson Alvarez, infielder Adeiny Hechavarria, catcher Jeff Mathis, minor league pitchers Justin Nicolino and Anthony Desclafani and minor league outfielder Jake Marisnick.
In the midst of the Twitter frenzy after the trade had been announced and confirmed, Garrett Wilson at Monkey with a Halo proposed the following question:
Let’s play a game: if the #Angels could dump Pujols, Wilson and Kendrick via trade and get prospects and salary relief, should they do it?
— Garrett Wilson (@MonkeyWithAHalo) November 14, 2012
For an Angels farm system that is depleted and a bloated payroll that has left the Angels out of the playoffs for the last two years, it’s a good question. After all, it wouldn’t be a total rebuild but a rethinking of sorts. Let’s break it down.
So let’s play. The name on the door to the GMs office is yours.
Pujols has $238 million dollars (!) remaining on his contract and is due $16 million next year. CJ Wilson has $65 million owed next year with $16 million owed next year while Howie Kendrick is owed 8.75 million of his $33.5 million dollar contract in 2013.
That would be $40.75 million off the books just for next year. And 336.5 million in the future. Think about what the Halos could do with that money. Maybe sign a one Mike Trout to a long-term extension?
Wins Above Replacement
Here was these three players WAR according to Baseball-Reference in 2012.
Howie Kendrick: 2.7
Assuming these players maintain a similar WAR in 2013, then the Angels as a team would lose roughly 6.4 Wins above replacement.
With Pujols and Kendrick gone and assuming that the Halos replace these two with league average players or through in-house choices, the starting team would look something like this.
C- Chris Iannetta
1B – Kendry Morales
2B – ?
3B -Alberto Collaspo
SS – Erick Aybar
LF – Mike Trout
CF – Peter Boujos
RF – Mark Trumbo
This line up was worth 24.4 WAR in 2012.
Here there are a lot of question marks. With CJ Wilson gone it would leave Jered Weaver and Garrett Richards as the only sure spots in the rotation. Yet, in many ways, the Angels likelihood of having a better rotation than in 2012 still largely exists. After all Haren’s WAR was -0.6 while Ervin Santana’s was -1.6. Out of all five pitchers in the starting rotation last year, only Weaver’s WAR was had a positive number of wins above replaced player. The only way seems to be up.
And look at the free age market. Edwin Jackson, Shaun Marcum, Jeremy Guthrie and Brandon McCarthy all had positive WARs in 2012. With 40.75 million off the books just for next year and 336.5 million in total, surely there is cash to sign at least two of these pitchers.
Or is there? With a hole at 2B now, a bullpen that needs to be solidified and a nearly completely gutted rotation, how much of that $40.75 would be left? Not much at all. So if the goal was to shed payroll for 2013, then the Angels would still be hard pressed to keep it under what they paid in 2012.
This becomes even more complicated if the Angels chose to sign Greinke, currently looking for 7 years and a $150 million. If he got that contract, then that’s $21.4 million a year, leaving very little spending room.
Do you make the trade?
Clearly, it’s hard to make a clear and accurate decision without knowing who the Angels would get in return. But knowing what you know now, what decision would you make.
And if you do make the trade, then what do you do with the extra money?
The extra $40+ million would likely go towards a couple of middle of the rotation starters or Zack Greinke and a back of the rotation guy if you goal was to win now but wouldn’t allow you much more spending room if you couldn’t go over the 2012 payroll.
Then again, if you chose to try and save money, then the $365 million you are saving over the long-term could free up time to re-sign Mike Trout while the prospects you received in the blockbuster deal developed.
Decisions, decisions, decisions. Which would you choose?