The Los Angeles Angels need pitching help. That's no secret. They had a subpar rotation last season and lost their best starting pitcher, Shohei Ohtani. The Angels have some talented arms like Griffin Canning, Reid Detmers, and Patrick Sandoval, but they lack a true ace. If they were to get that ace in free agency, they're running out of options.
The two best pitchers left by a considerable margin are Jordan Montgomery and Blake Snell. Both would be strong fits if they pitch the way they did in 2023, but both would come with question marks and absurdly high price tags. At least that was the expectation.
According to Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com, Snell might be open to considering a different contract structure. Instead of a lengthy deal that would take him to his late 30s, the southpaw could be open to a shorter-term deal with a higher AAV. That could be more palatable for the Angels.
Creative contract structure could make Blake Snell more attractive for the LA Angels
Here's what Cotillo had to say about the Snell contract situation:
"The somewhat mercurial Snell seems like less of a clean fit and some now believe he might command a shorter, more creative deal for a team in win-now mode. Earlier this week, a person with knowledge of the pitching market suggested something like a three-year deal with a high average annual value and opt outs may be the route teams take with Snell."- Chris Cotillo MassLive.com
Now, the Angels aren't exactly a team ready to win, but they say they want to win. It'd be up to Snell as to whether he'd consider this short-term deal with the Angels, but that kind of structure is definitely more appealing.
With a shorter-term higher-AAV deal, the Angels would be eliminating a lot of the risk and giving Snell more money upfront. They'd have a much quicker out if Snell either struggles, suffers through injury issues, or both. They'd also have Snell likely for the rest of his prime years and would have his money off the books by the time he'd be (likely) regressing. For Snell, he'd get more money quicker and get another chance to cash in two or three years later assuming he pitches well. It's a bet on himself.
The Angels have roughly $70 million to play with before they hit the luxury tax threshold for this offseason. They have more than enough available to give him a ton of money for the next couple of years. While Montgomery seems like a safer bet on similar long-term deals, Snell at two or three years certainly sounds better than Montgomery at five or six.
Whether Snell actually goes through with taking a short-term high-AAV deal the year after he wins a Cy Young remains to be seen. It'd certainly be unprecedented. Whether he even considers that kind of deal with a team that wants to win now but doesn't realistically have the pieces is another question that he'd have to answer. If both answers are yes, that's something the Angels should strongly consider.