After committing $325 million dollars to CJ Wilson and Albert Pujols last off-season, the Angels finished third in the AL West with the highest payroll in team history and fourth in the major leagues. Should they really commit a long-term deal worth over $100 million to a single player?
Is it really such a crazy question to ask?
Currently, the Angels have $92 million dollars committed and four players who are arbitration eligible which estimating on the high-end, should cost the Angels $8-10 million and put the Angels payroll at roughly $100 million. Leaving them something to the effect of $50-55 million to spend this year.
If the Angels signed Greinke to his desired $150 million over 7 years that would average out to $21.4 million a year for the right-handed pitcher. In all likelihood, Greinke does not get his desired contract and earns less but let’s roll with the worst-case scenario. That leaves the Angels payroll for 2013 at roughly $122 million for 2013.
At $122 million that still leaves the Angels $32 million under their 2012 payroll. Assuming owner Arte Moreno is willing to maintain the payroll at last years $154 million, that’s $32 million (which due to our high estimation might be more) that could be used to sign a short-term deal for a back-end pitcher (maybe even 2!) and bolster the bullpen.
The big contracts that the Angels signed last year are all backloaded. Pujols is owed $16 million in 2013 but that jumps up to $23 million in 2014 and increases by 1 million each year until his contract expires in 2021.
The same goes for CJ Wilson who is owed $11 million next year but $16 million in 2014, increasing by $2 million each year after that until 2016. Jered Weaver has a similar contract that has him earning $16 million in 2013 and 2014 but increasing after that.
As of right now, the Angels have over $65 million committed to three players in 2016 who all be in their mid to late 30s by then. In other words, adding another long-term expensive contract in signing Greinke would leave the Angels more financially hand-cuffed in seasons to come.
This could become a major factor when trying to sign future free agents. Not to mention that if Mike Trout remains healthy and productive, the Angels will be facing some hefty arbitration years come 2015.
Win Now, Deal With Fallout Later
From the lucrative contracts that the Angels have been handing out over the past couple of years, the front office seems poised on winning now and willing to deal with the fallout of being financially constrained to aging players in their mid-30s later.
It may be the right mentality for the Angels to spend now. They have a solid core of players in the prime of their career, many of them still relatively cheap. Signing Greinke to a long-term deal is a good bet to help improve this club’s chances of winning now. The question lies in whether it’s worth the financial burden it will add to future years.
If the past few years are any indication, the Angels will spend big again this off-season. And if they win a championship, then it’s probably worth it. But if they don’t, the Angels will be staring down a future of bloated contracts to aging players seasons to come.