Earlier in 2011 I wrote a post on another site explaining a thought: That no matter what the outcome of the season is, the Angels could be in a win-win situation, because the franchise has a lot of money coming off the books this offseason. Upwards to about $45 million will be freed up, and there has been talk of Arte Moreno increasing the payroll again, starting with this trade deadline. The season may or may not be a success, either way the Angels will have all the room to buy this winter, and maybe more.
About a month and a half ago, I speculated that the front office could sell at the deadline and free up even more cash to get some younger veterans with many years ahead of them. That was during a rough stretch where the Halos were losing six games in a row. Since June 13, however, the Angels are 27-13. So my speculation has become rather mundane at this point. But that still doesn't mean there won't be enough flexibility this winter.
Reagins probably should have sold last season, while still bringing in Haren for the future. Had Reagins done so, we might not have worried about this at all earlier in the year, and this would be a redundant post, which it probably is considering the Angels are in fact in contention and this is mainly food for thought.
How about this? I am one of the minority who thinks getting a rental isn't such a bad idea. Sure, selling young prospects can sometimes come back to bite you, but this team has seen an entire decade go by since it's first World Series appearance, and the clock is ticking. It will still be more of a crapshoot considering this team's lack of depth and overall experience in certain areas. But it should still be fun to watch; starting with the next Texas series on August 15, one quarter of the remaining 40 games this season are against the Texas Rangers. That should be an exciting race to the finish. Then, whatever happens in October, the Angels can get right back to signing and dealing.
$23 million dollars alone comes from the expiring contracts of Gary Matthews Jr. and Scott Kazmir. If possible, there's the team's next franchise bat right, unless Mark Trumbo is turning into that for peanuts. Had the Angels' 2011 season continued to go down the drain, as it did in May, we'd probably be saying goodbye to a few recent fan favorites.
One of those fan favorites who's departure may not happen, but could help free up more cash is Bobby Abreu. His $9 million option for 2012 is guaranteed after 550 plate appearances. If the team decides to buy out his option, I can see them possibly doing this at the deadline; teams do use the deadline as a point at which to evaluate performance.
Here's an example of a move that still boggles my mind, but still indicates the possibility the same could happen to Abreu: While failing to make a deal at the 1998 deadline, Bill Bavasi called up Troy Glaus to be the everyday third baseman, and then just a week later (Aug. 6) he released Cecil Fielder, who was leading the team in RBI's! I remember Harold Reynolds went off for about three minutes over this that night on ESPN. I was shocked. The Angels lost the division. I was unable to find any vesting options attached to Cecil's contract; however, I do remember it was incentive-laden -- something had to have prompted Cecil's release. If that can happen, then I would guess Reagins may have the same thing in mind. We'll know on Monday.
There is also the school of thought that says: "We can't take another year of this group coming up short, so it's time to upgrade through trades." With the financial cushion Reagins (or the next GM) will be sitting on, he will have all the leg room he can use up to upgrade via free agency, or though trades, or both. This gives the Angels a chance to finally be a complete team, and contend for another World Series from the start in 2012.
What I'm really looking forward to though is what will happen in the offseason in 2013, where so far there is only about $70 million committed. I wonder what what the team will look like then. In any case, the Halos should come out winners, regardless of where they finish in 2011.