Given the search the Los Angeles Angels underwent for pitching this winter, it came as no surprise that the team almost landed starter Matt Garza, but it was somewhat surprising that they got in their own way of doing so.
According to a tweet by Buster Olney of ESPN, the Angels had extended an offer to Garza earlier this offseason, but in typical Arte Moreno fashion, it was an exploding offer.
Angels had 4-year offer to Matt Garza on the table early in winter, for about what he got from MILW,but pulled it after it wasn't accepted.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) February 4, 2014
Garza would eventually ink a four-year, $50 million deal with the Milwaukee Brewers, a deal that also includes a fifth-year vesting option worth $13 million. At the time it was originally reported, it was seen as a steal of a deal for Milwaukee, as the average annual value was seen as below market value, especially for a pitcher that wasn’t burdened with the weight of a qualifying offer.
However, Moreno’s choice may have been a blessing in disguise for the Angels.
After the original announcement of the deal for Garza, the two parties then took the better part of two weeks to officially announce the deal. When the final terms were announced, the guaranteed dollar value was lower than first reported and the team had inserted a protective vesting option into the contract. Considering the hesitation from some teams in regards to Garza and the similarity of the vesting option to what Boston had done with John Lackey, many assume that something popped up in Garza’s medicals that likely scared the Brewers.
Only time will tell, but that sounds like a bullet dodged.
Meanwhile, the Angels turned their attention elsewhere, solving their pitching needs by landing both Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs in a three-team trade with the White Sox and Diamondbacks that cost them Mark Trumbo. However, given Skaggs’ limited success at the Major League level, and his struggles in the minors in 2013, the Angels may be wise to hedge their bets and give the big lefty a little bit of seasoning time in the minors again in 2014.
That’s where Chris Capuano comes into play, along with his friendly contract demands (again per Buster Olney).
Chris Capuano's asking price — at two years earlier in the winter — is down to one year, according to sources.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) January 31, 2014
The 35-year-old Capuano is coming off of a season where he struggled a bit with injuries, and then put up middling results when he was on the mound. In 24 appearances (20 starts) Capuano spun a 4-7 record with a 4.26 ERA, a 3.67 xFIP, and a solid 3.38 K/BB ratio. That came on the heels of a season where the lefty went 12-12 with the Dodgers in 2012, posting a 3.72 ERA, a 3.97 xFIP, and a 3.00 K/BB ratio.
With his demands down to a one-year deal, the could open some doors with the Angels for Capuano. Los Angeles would like to avoid a long-term deal with a free agent starter, and Capuano at a rate of between $6-$8 million would fit nicely. That would give the team time to feel comfortable with Skaggs’ development at the Triple-A level, while also buying time for top pitching prospect Mark Sappington.
Given the state of the Angels farm system, especially when it comes to young pitching, giving any of them time to development would be welcome, can Chris Capuano would be a means to an end.
And we may have Matt Garza to thank for that.