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LA Angels: Bright future ahead for payroll, team to look at major stars

TEMPE, AZ - FEBRUARY 28: Albert Pujols of the Los Angeles Angels looks on during the spring training game against the Texas Rangers on February 28, 2020 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images)
TEMPE, AZ - FEBRUARY 28: Albert Pujols of the Los Angeles Angels looks on during the spring training game against the Texas Rangers on February 28, 2020 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images)
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The Angels are getting closer to a point of payroll flexibility that will allow them to contend.

The Halos haven’t been in the playoffs in quite some time, but that is about to change. The Angels are getting closer to a position where they will have more payroll flexibility than they have seen in quite some time. The Angels have long been the victims of payroll suicide as they continue to sign men like Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols, and others to huge contracts that don’t pay off at the end of the term or in the case of Hamilton and Pujols, don’t really pay off ever.

The Angels currently are projected to have three sizable contracts on the books following the 2021 season to Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, and Justin Upton. Obviously, Trout is not a ‘bad contract’ because you truly can’t put a dollar figure on him — he’s the best player in baseball. That in itself is priceless. On the other hand, though, Justin Upton is an albatross contract. Rendon looks like a very reasonable contract at this point in time.

In 2022, Trout will earn $37.1 million, Rendon will earn $36.6 million, and Upton will earn $28 million. That is $101.7 million committed to just two players. That’s a lot, but as we look forward to 2023, things get more interesting. Upton will be under contract for the 2021 and 2022 seasons, but he will be a free agent following that period. Trout and Rendon will still be under contract. The Angels, while having a ton of money committed to just two players, may finally find some financial ground after the horrifyingly bad contracts of Albert Pujols and Justin Upton are gone.

In the winter of 2021 prior to the 2022 season, stars like Francisco Lindor, Kris Bryant, and Freddie Freeman become available. Guys like Carlos Correa and Noah Syndergaard will become available as well. That next year, though, a lot will happen — right when the Angels have the utmost payroll flexibility. 2023 will bring guys like Jacob deGrom, Aaron Nola, Max Muncy, Jose Ramirez, Mike Clevinger, and Trea Turner to the free agency table. The Angels will be able to make the big splash of their choosing.

While it might tough to remain patient given that Angels fans have been patiently waiting for the team to be good for awhile, art is never rushed. Come 2023, the Angels should be amongst the best teams in baseball if they play their cards correctly.

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