Expensive Center Field Free Agent Market Highlights Angels’ Affordable Depth At Position

By Saxon Baird

Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

Players don’t seem come cheap for the Angels anymore. In 2012, the team sat fourth highest in payroll and it doesn’t look to be going down with two major rotation spots to fill and a strong push to sign Zack Greinke.

However, with B.J. Upton signing a five-year, $75 million dollar contract with the Atlanta Braves yesterday and with Michael Bourn and Josh Hamilton likely to sign for similar if not more money; the Angels find themselves in a nice and affordable place when it comes to the center field position.

At first, BJ Upton may not seem worth the contract he inked yesterday. After all, his batting line last year was an unimpressive .246/.298/.454. However, early reactions have been positive of the signing due to BJ Upton’s considerable upside. As RJ Anderson wrote recently at Baseball Prospectus, “No free agent receives more credit for his remaining upside than Upton does.”

With Upton now with the Atlanta Braves, we now wait and see what Josh Hamilton and Michael Bourn — the other center fielders on the free agent market who are also high-risk/high-reward like Upton — sign for.

Luckily for the Angels, they have two center fielders they are happy with. One just won Rookie of the Year. You know his name. According to Jerry Dipoto he’ll move to left field next year for the other center fielder, Peter Bourjos.

Until Denard Span signed with the Nationals today, Peter Bourjos’ name has often been linked in a possible trade with Washington. Now with Span headed to the Nationals that seems unlikely.

It probably always was, though.

Both Bourjos and Trout are under team control until 2017. In 2013, their combined salary is expected to sit at around (and possibly under) $1 million dollars.

Think of that when Hamilton and Bourn put ink to paper with a new ball club.

With a few major rotation spots to fill and a bullpen that needs some rebuilding, the Angels talented and cheap starting outfield is likely to remain untouched this off-season. And that’s probably the smartest non-move they can make.