With Thanksgiving now behind us, there could be more of a chance we see more signings and deals being done with the winter meetings quickly approaching. LA Angels fans have discussed so much on whether Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg would be the perfect piece and for how much, and I would say spend whatever it takes.
In a separate article that I wrote about the LA Angels not giving away young talent for pitching needs, I never said the Angels shouldn’t spend big. I’m assuming that many fans and writers know that Arte Moreno made it publicly aware that the Angels payroll will go up this offseason, and that leaves us all wondering how much is Moreno willing to spend.
The Angels have had their fair share of bad contracts in the past that haven’t worked so well, but that was all in the past and these players are certainly different this time around. The Angels are already looking at around $146 million committed to the payroll for next year, with the luxury-tax threshold coming at $208 million, I had done the basic math of subtracting the difference at about $62 million left to spend if the Angels want to stay under the threshold.
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While I am no expert at exactly how much the Angels are looking to spend this offseason, Gerrit Cole is looking to command the highest AAV (average annual value), and his agent, Scott Boras, will look to get him the highest contract attainable while even trying to make a bidding war with his other client, Stephen Strasburg.
Currently, the highest AAV for a pitcher is Zack Greinke of the Houston Astros, coming in $35 million per year, which Cole is looking to make north of the highest paid pitcher annually. While only making $36 million will put him past Greinke, I would assume teams may want to go much higher than that, however, the range may be around $36-$40 million per year.
If the Angels want to stay aggressive in the Cole sweepstakes, they should be willing to go to the limit of $40 million which may scare fans if they are concerned with payroll and being flexible enough for other moves.
The Angels have been known to want to keep some room under the luxury-tax threshold in order to maintain financial flexibility should some type of emergency or something big forces them to spend. Keep in mind that we don’t know how much the payroll will increase, but I wouldn’t be hesitant on pushing up to the $40 million mark.
Now, let’s see the other pitcher that is looking to command his fair share and is another possibility for the Angels, Stephen Strasburg. He is probably looking to get a little less than Gerrit Cole, however, because they have the same agent in Scott Boras, it is a good idea that Boras will work with both of them to compete against each other to drive both of their prices up.
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The downside to Strasburg is that his arm is like a ticking time bomb because he had Tommy John surgery in 2010 and most require another one in some time. Teams may question that, but there shouldn’t be any doubt that he will get paid and help any team that is willing to sit on their hands for a season should he need another surgery.
Gerrit Cole can easily be at risk for the same issues, however, because he has a good track record of staying healthy and his numbers, he’s over Strasburg in terms of performance. Both starters are southern California natives, which certainly helps the Angels if they both want to pitch closer to home, however, with Strasburg being previously on the World Series winning Washington Nationals, he may show interest in returning.
In the end, I do believe that the Angels should think about going big in terms of dollar amount and trying to get at least one of these top-tier starters. Even if some fans are worried about the amount it takes to get them over here.