While the LA Angels reportedly had to “bust their budget a little bit” when they agreed to terms with closer Cody Allen, owner Arte Moreno and general manager Billy Eppler may just have something up their sleeve.
When the LA Angels have made big signings in the past, they have been a surprise team. Even this offseason, it has been very rare that the Angels would be linked to a player by reporters prior to signing them. There were no reports about Cody Allen, Matt Harvey, Jonathan Lucroy, or Trevor Cahill prior to the Angels agreeing to deals with them.
In fact, every report the Angels have been apart of has been with players they ultimately didn’t sign. Even last week, the Halos were linked to Mike Moustakas – who would have been a great fit in Anaheim – only to see him return to the Milwaukee Brewers. Nearly every starting pitcher on the market had reports with the Angels attached to them. It’s obvious Billy Eppler and Co. prefer to work under the shadows, but are they still up to something?
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Every LA Angels fan remembers the Josh Hamilton signing. Obviously that signing did not go how most though, for many reasons, but what a lot of people forget is what happened earlier in the offseason. The Angels essentially told Torii Hunter, who every fan loved and adored, they did not have enough money to retain him, and watched him walk away and join the Detroit Tigers (under Brad Ausmus, small world).
Now, the Angels are telling the public they don’t have enough money to sign players. Moustakas signed for $10 million, which is a steal for the Brewers. Are the Angels actually out of money, or are they saving their cash for a much bigger fish (not a Trout reference)?
There are reasons to believe they could be. Despite saying the budget is a broken, Arte Moreno also told reporters that he was interested in buying Fox Sports West in order to make it an Angels focused network. He is also in negotiations with the city of Anaheim on a new stadium deal. Obviously, Arte has money to spend. The question is whether or not he’ll use it to improve the roster, or for other ventures regarding the club.
Arte Moreno also spoke very fondly of long-term contracts, stating “We don’t get Albert Pujols if we don’t give him a long-term deal”. Obviously, Moreno has a much more positive view of the Pujols deal than Angels fans, but the fact he spoke positively about longer contracts while the rest of the MLB hides at the idea of signing anyone longer than three years is notable.
Earlier this offseason I wrote a piece about how the Angels could be the illustrious “mystery team” for Manny Machado or Bryce Harper. Obviously Machado is off the table given his 10-year, $300 million deal with the Padres (which gives the Angels a layout for a Trout extension).
However, Harper is still a very attractive piece, and with rumors of doubt regarding the Phillies, maybe it’s time for a mystery team to swoop in. If not Harper, the Angels still might not be done, and may just go after a Dallas Kuechel or Marwin Gonzalez type of player.
The Angels have been in this spot before. There have been many off-seasons where fans don’t believe the team has the money to go after the big free agent on the market. Then we got Pujols. And CJ Wilson. Then Hamilton. For better or for worse, the Halos came out of left field and signed all three, even while most believed they were strapped for cash. Don’t count them out this offseason, or any for that matter.