The MLB offseason is officially underway! Managers and coaches are finding homes, pending free agents are letting their intentions be known and we are all standing by, hoping somehow our opinions make their way through the inter-webs and onto Billy Eppler's desk.
Charles "Can I call you Charlie?" Nagy: I would assume that was the first question Jeff Fletcher asked. Then he asked him about his style: "My philosophy is like any other pitching coach's philosophy -- of throwing strikes, working ahead, working fast," Nagy said in a phone interview. "What I need to do right now, in this next week, is just touch base and build relationships, build trust with these guys. Just build a good working relationship from day one until we get into the season. That's the most important -- treat everybody as individuals and work with the players, let everyone know that I'm there with them, and just try to show my experience and my passion for pitching and baseball." Sure seems like a swell guy, if nothing else. It is no surprise, then, that he has a victim of Kevin Towers' ideology of a time when men were men and pitchers were out for blood: Upon dismissing Nagy, then-GM Kevin Towers said he wanted more toughness out of his pitchers. He wanted them to establish the inside part of the plate and sought a pitching coach who was going to "chew a little rear end when needed," prompting Towers to hire Mike Harkey.
Dave Hansen: The Angels have yet to make an official announcement, though Jeff Fletcher let it leak through Twitter that Hansen will indeed be named the Angels' next hitting coach, much to the delight of many here at Halos Heaven. It shouldn't be too surprising, considering the Halos kept him away from the A's a year ago.
Bring back Murphy?: Jeff Fletcher was a busy boy yesterday, pointing out that the Angels have until Wednesday to decide whether to pick up the $7 million option on David Murphy. "Although Murphy was competent in left field, the Angels probably don't see him as an everyday left fielder. C.J. Cron's strong second half was good enough that they also likely don't want to platoon him with Murphy at DH." I can't really agree with any of that. If by competent he means "not an abject disaster" in left, then yeah, OK. He was competent. But I'm also not buying Cron as an everyday player. This is a team with at least three holes in their line-up. I would think the $7 million price tag on Murphy is a perfectly reasonable insurance policy to ensure there's some depth there next season.
The Freese Decision: Later in the Murphy piece, Fletcher points out that Friday is the deadline to make David Freese a qualifying offer. The Angels could make him the offer, assuming he would reject it. Although $15.8 million is more than Freese would get for 2016 if he signs a multiyear deal, he would likely be guaranteed at least $30 million over at least three years if he goes on the market.
Arbitration: Arte Moreno recently left open the possibility of spending past the luxury tax threshold. Good thing, as some of the Angels' young, cheap talent isn't going to be so cheap anymore. Garrett Richards (second year eligible), Hector Santiago (second) and Kole Calhoun (first as a Super II) will all be in line for a nice pay bump. Also in line for arbitration are Fernando Salas (third), Cesar Ramos (third) and Collin Cowgill (second as Super II). I would assume the latter three are declined an offer this time around.
Elsewhere in Baseball
Those Crazy Nationals: Just when we thought the Washington Nationals made the most rational decision possible in replacing failed manager Matt Williams with our beloved Bud Black, they chose to lowball him and wound up with analytic-punching bag and Angel legend in his own right Dusty Baker as their new skipper: "I am so pleased to welcome Dusty Baker to the Nationals family," Washington general manager Mike Rizzo said in a release. "In getting to know Dusty and identifying what we wanted in the next on-field leader of our team, we are excited to have him on board." Well, now we know there will be at least one major league manager that is less statistically-inclined than Mike Scioscia. To his credit, Baker is known as a player's manager, so in that regard he is an upgrade over the surly Matt Williams.
Cashing In: As expected, Yoenis Cespedes is looking for big money this offseason and is hoping for at least a six-year deal. According to a Mets' official, they expect him to sign elsewhere. The 29 year-old outfielder had a breakthrough season in 2015, hitting .291/.328/.542 with 35 HR and 105 RBI between the Tigers and Mets.
Cleaning House: The Brewers outrighted a handful of players off their 40 man roster, including former Angels' farmhand Johnny Hellweg. Hellweg, as many of you might remember, was one of three players sent to Milwaukee in the Zack Greinke trade. Hellweg has great stuff but never could harness it, walking 6.4 batters per 9 innings in his minor league career.
Catchers on the Market: It seems like only yesterday Matt Wieters was a top prospect but he is now set to test the free agency waters. He had a down year after recovering from Tommy John surgery, but is still expected to decline his qualifying offer. The 29 year-old Wieters is a good-hitting backstop with two gold gloves on his resume, putting him in line for a nice payday. Also available this offseason: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, if you want the low-calorie model.