Report: Angels want to lock up Street, Iannetta & Richards

By Brian Helberg
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Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com reported on Tuesday that the Angels are interested in signing Huston Street, Chris Iannetta, and Garrett Richards to contract extensions before the start of the 2015 season. Street and Iannetta are currently entering the last year on their contracts, and Richards is going through the arbitration process for the first time in his career.

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The Angels dealt for all-star closer Huston Street this past July from the San Diego Padres. The 31-year-old provided the Angels with a veteran presence at the back end of their bullpen. Street went 1-2, with a 1.71 ERA and 17 saves across 26.1 innings in an Angels’ uniform. Overall, the Austin, TX product posted a record of 2-2, with a 1.37 ERA and tallied a career high 41 saves in 2014. He has been named an all-star in two of the past three seasons. Street is scheduled to make $7 million dollars in the final year of his contract. Halos’ General Manager Jerry Dipoto is likely to pursue a short-term contract extension with his closer. Tacking on an additional two years with an average annual salary of $8-$10 million sounds right to me.

Chris Iannetta joined the club in 2012 after spending the first six years of his career with the Colorado Rockies. Iannetta has been the Angels starting catcher for the last three seasons, appearing in at least 108 games in each of his last two campaigns. The 31-year-old backstop was a quality offensive contributor for the Halos in 2014, batting .252, with 7 home runs and 43 RBI’s. Iannetta has never been considered a great defender behind the plate, but last season he showed significant growth with the leather. He posted a .997 fielding percentage, good for the second best single season mark of his career, and his 30% caught stealing percentage tied his career high. The Providence, RI product is set to earn $5.525 million in the final year of his contract. Iannetta is another candidate for a short-term extension, likely in the one to two year range, worth roughly $6.5 million per season.

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Garrett Richards had a breakout season for the Angels in 2014, going 13-4 and posting a 2.61 ERA over 26 outings. The 26-year-old posted career best numbers across the board last season, and figures to reside near the top of the Halos’ starting rotation for years to come. However, in terms of an extension, Richards is a more complicated case than Street and Iannetta. The Edmond, OK product is arbitration eligible for the first time in his career. He requested $3.8 million in arbitration and the Angels countered with $2.4 million. His hearing is scheduled for early February after failing to agree to terms, but both sides would prefer to cut a deal to avoid the hearing. Richards’ spectacular season was derailed in August after tearing his left patellar tendon at Fenway Park in Boston. Reports indicate he is on track to return sometime in April, but the severity of the injury muddies the water in negotiations. Richards is not scheduled to hit free agency until after the 2018 season, so the Angels would likely want to buy out the remaining four seasons of arbitration eligibility. It would probably take an average annual salary of $5-8 million to get the job done.

Based of their 2014 performances, all three of these players are deserving of a contract extension. I would wager Street is the most likely to be extended prior to the start of the season. Dipoto has already stated he will begin negotiations with the reliever’s representation during spring training. Next on the check list for the Halos would likely be Chris Iannetta. Due to the free agent climate for 32-yer-old catchers, and the Angels lack of starting options, a deal between the two sides seems plausible. I do not anticipate Richards being extended this offseason. His arbitration status and injury issues make the negotiations too complex. However, if Richards can put up similar numbers in 2015, I believe the two sides will revisit extension discussions next offseason.

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