Despite reportedly being a finalist to land him, Masahiro Tanaka is not heading to Anaheim. The Japanese starting pitcher has signed a seven-year, $155 million deal with the Yankees. Including the posting fee, the deal can total $175 million with an opt-out after the fourth year. FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweeted that Cubs, Dodgers, White Sox, and Astros were all involved. Not included were the Angels. Jerry Dipoto even confirmed that they did not make a formal offer.
What free agent are the Angels turning their attention to? Matt Garza. After spending time with the Twins, Rays, and Cubs, Garza was traded to the Rangers last summer. In thirteen starts with Texas, he went 4-5 with a 4.38 ERA after going 6-1 in Chicago.
Arguably the best starting pitcher available right now, his asking price has likely just been set thanks to Tanaka. While he will not command Tanaka-like money, it is still going to be a lot. The Halos are said to have $15 million to spend before hitting the luxury tax threshold of $189 million. With a Mike Trout extension looming, the team is almost certain to go beyond the threshold. And don't forget about David Freese. He will also be seeking a contract. So Arte Moreno & Co. might as well just spend on Garza.
Ken Rosenthal has noted that the current labor agreement expires in 2016 and the luxury tax threshold will undoubtedly go up; therefore, signing Garza to a six-year $119 million deal (just a ballpark number set very high) would not hurt the team in the future. The luxury tax threshold is based on the average annual value of a contract. Factor in my $19.8 million assumption for Garza with Albert Pujols' $24 million, Josh Hamilton's $25 million, and Trout's possible $30 million per season, you have yourself nearly $100 million taken. Throw in C.J. Wilson's $15.5 million and Jered Weaver's $17 million average annual value. Now the team sits at about $132 million. This is after Vernon Wells and Joe Blanton have contracts that evaporate after this season. That's $26 million freed up.
Bringing in Matt Garza would work financially because of the luxury tax threshold being raised. So if the Angels go over the new luxury tax threshold, it would not be by much and Arte Moreno would likely have no problem paying the penalty. Or maybe he is waiting for Max Scherzer to hit free agency next winter...