Robert Stephenson injury shows why LA Angels refuse to pay free agents big money

Free agent signee Robert Stephenson may not be on the Angels Opening Day roster.

Los Angeles Angels pitcher Robert Stephenson
Los Angeles Angels pitcher Robert Stephenson / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

Fool me once, shame on you. But fool me twice, shame on me. That would seem to be the line of thinking for Arte Moreno and the Los Angeles Angels front office this offseason. One of the most topsy turvy organizations in baseball, the Angels have been ridiculed by the media and their fanbase throughout the entire offseason.

After losing Shohei Ohtani early in the offseason, things have only gotten worse for the Angels. Anthony Rendon's questionable comments had him trending on social media for several days (and not in a good way), Mike Trout didn't sound as committed to the Angels organization as he had been in the past, and almost every team in the AL West has gotten better. Yes, even the Oakland Athletics.

While it's almost always sunny in Los Angeles, it seems as though there's a black cloud hanging over Angel Stadium, and the latest injury surrounding Robert Stephenson is not good. The right-hander is experiencing shoulder discomfort and his status for Opening Day remains very much up in the air less than 10 days out.

Robert Stephenson injury shows why LA Angels refuse to pay free agents big money

If Stephenson's injury turns out to be more than just some minor discomfort, it could be the final nail in the coffin when it comes to free agent spending in Anaheim. The Angels have consistently gone hunting for big game, and more times than not, come up empty handed.

Need we review the number of bad contracts the Angels have taken on in recent years? Rendon (seven-year, $245 million), Josh Hamilton (five-year, $125 million), Albert Pujols (10-year, $240 million), and Justin Upton (five-year, $106 million) are some of the most recent examples of swings and misses on the part of the Angels organization. That's over $700 million for players who, while they had their moments, were incredibly underwhelming while playing in an Angels uniform.

And this isn't just the work of one general manager. Perry Minasian has been in charge since 2020. But before that, the Halos were run by the likes of Tony Reagins (2007-2011), Jerry Dipoto (2011-2015), and Billy Eppler (2015-2020).

The LA Angels have resisted the urge to spend big this offseason

The Angels were patient throughout most of the offseason, avoiding the ridiculous contract demands of players like Blake Snell, Jordan Montgomery, and others. While the Halos have been linked to both left-handers, Los Angeles has been patient in their pursuit, preferring not to jump in with both feet as they're prone to do.

Most the Angels' additions have consisted of one-year pacts and minor-league deals with non-roster invites. The Angels added Aaron Hicks to a one-year deal, but the New York Yankees are paying most of the outfielder's salary.

The Angels are hopeful that new manager Ron Washington can bring some discipline and focus to a franchise that lacks both. Hopefully Washington rubs off on the Angels front office as well. A clear direction would seem to be the first step towards ridding LA of their current mess.

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