Happy Hunger Games, and may the odds be EVER in your favor.
If any one tagline could be used to describe this forthcoming offseason, THAT is probably it. Only a handful of free agents really have "expected" landing spots, and those are the ones expected to stay where they are. A number of names figure to be tossed around the rumor mill in terms of trades. Where they stop, nobody knows.
The list of guys I figure the Angels to have even "kick-the-tires" type interest in is always growing. I'll be going over five players at a time, in no particular order or fashion. What I've done is taken a couple dozen guys (and the list always grows, so more may be in the future) and used a combination of park adjustments, career statistics in Anaheim as visitors, recent trends and environmental factors to determine how they would perform in an Angels uniform--both next season and over the life of a contract.
ROBINSON CANO (2B, NYY 2005-13)
He's the crown jewel of this year's free agent class. He and Jay-Z are said to be asking a $300 million contract, which some team may be crazy enough to give him. Many of us fear that that team...is the Angels. Now notorious for "big splashes" over the past few offseasons (Vernon Wells, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton are the past three), it's natural for Angels fans to think--in however positive or negative a sense--that Robinson Cano is on Arte Moreno's radar. He's expected to earn anywhere from 8 to 10 years on any contract. For argument's sake, we'll call it in the middle for this projection at 9 years. For the sake of statistical projection, his salary is irrelevant, but to expect a Prince Fielder-type contract isn't unlikely (9 years, $214 million). His Anaheim numbers:
2014 SEASON WITH ANGELS
Not that those numbers are terrible, but I doubt the Angels will want to throw another 9-figure contract at a guy who will perform below career averages. Statistically speaking, only Cano's 2008 season would be worse than this one. But let's see how this looks over the course of NINE years!
NINE-YEAR CONTRACT WITH ANGELS
Would you pay $214 million over 9 years for this? For a guy who will basically give the same output here that Howie Kendrick has for a fraction of the cost? Arte, I hope you're reading and you have your statistical translator with you (Lord knows you don't read the stats for yourself). STEER CLEAR. Not a BAD player in general terms, but a BUST for a large contract.
BRIAN McCANN (C, ATL 2005-13)
Another premier hitter on the offseason market, and easily the biggest catching target to be had, McCann is likely to command a 4-6 year contract at about $12-18 million per year. Calling each total in the middle, we can assume 5 years at $15 million per ($75 million total) is the likely going rate for McCann's services. The Rangers WERE seen among his biggest suitors, but they re-signed Geovany Soto on a one-year contract and made it very clear that HE will be their starting catcher. McCann isn't going to sign big bucks to play backup. So with Texas out, it could be that the Angels' fringe interest turns a bit more serious--serious enough to deal Chris Iannetta or Hank Conger (or both) and ink McCann? Let's see what that would reap:
2014 SEASON WITH ANGELS
...when was the last time we had a starting catcher that batted above .250? Anybody want to take a wild guess? If your answer was 2009 Mike Napoli, you're right! And his slash was almost identical to the one McCann would post in an Angels uni (Naps went .272/.350/.492 that year), but in 17 less games than McCann would be projected to play. As much as I love Chris Iannetta and his walk-machine ways, it honestly wouldn't bother me to have a catcher that knows how to hit--and hit WELL. But can he maintain his ways over the length of a five-year contract?
FIVE YEAR CONTRACT WITH ANGELS
Can't say that I'm bothered. I CAN say that I'm intrigued. The only question for me is if he could hold up as a catcher across all five years of the contract--we can't afford for him to become a first baseman or designated hitter, seeing as those avenues are all clogged (Albert Pujols, Mark Trumbo, Kole Calhoun and Josh Hamilton will all be occupying one or both of those roles during McCann's potential tenure here). The concern of McCann's health and durability as a catcher is enough to give pause to signing him--but your concern does NOT need to be for his bat holding up, as it projects to do just that. Would YOU take the chance?
TIM HUDSON (SP, OAK 1999-2004, ATL 2005-13)
It's a valid question, especially if we lose Jason Vargas. Hudson isn't the frontline pitcher that most teams want to acquire, but with a young arm like Garrett Richards in our possession, and likely to ascend to the starting rotation for good, Hudson is the perfect fit for a "veteran mentor" type of role, while still being able to (hopefully) hold his own. The assumption of Hudson pitching to form would make him a stellar #3 arm in our rotation, and likely on the cheap; a two-year contract or a one-year with a vesting option is likely to be what Hudson receives. We'll assume the former and give Hudson two guaranteed years at $8 million per year. Let's see what turns up.
2014 SEASON WITH ANGELS
Not bad...not bad at all. We're not signing him to be Cy Young, but I've got to say, I'm not going to complain about a free agent pitcher giving us a 3.56 ERA after what our last two ventures got us (Tommy and Joe, I'm looking RIGHT at you). Can he replicate that during a second year? Does the contract become a good move--potentially job-saving--for Dipoto and company? Let's see.
TWO YEAR CONTRACT WITH ANGELS
Not at all disappointing. I'll take it happily over a 6.02 ERA from a pitcher getting paid similarly (again, Joe...). If we keep Vargas, then perfect; Hudson makes a number four and a veteran mentor to Richards pitching fifth. If we can't keep Vargas, fine; Hudson and Richards make a 3 and 4, and we stick Jerome or Shoemaker or (ugh) Blanton in the fifth spot.
Another installment will be forthcoming in the next few days, featuring a trade target that many teams would give up the farm for, a rather woolly bullpen solution, and another something nice to have that we certainly don't need.