I must say, the writers at MLB Trade Rumors seem like they know how the Angels operate, at least going by their predictions for our pursuit of free agents this offseason. (Link) Here are the three players they see us signing:
Yoenis Cespedes - Angels. Six years, $140MM. Cespedes, 30, vaulted up the free agent ranks after bashing 25 home runs in the season's final three months. Signed by the Athletics for $36MM as a free agent out of Cuba, Cespedes' choice to limit that contract to four years has paid off. He's ineligible for a qualifying offer, and seems unlikely to return to the Mets. The Angels are one possibility for Cespedes, though they would prefer a left-handed masher. The Astros, Giants, Mariners, White Sox, Rangers, and Yankees could get in the mix, but this one's tough to predict.
Daniel Murphy - Angels. Four years, $56MM. Murphy, 31 in April, has long served as a solid second baseman for the Mets. He had the best contact rate in baseball among qualified hitters this year and can also handle third base. He's a below average defensive second baseman. After hitting a career-high 14 home runs in the regular season, Murphy smashed seven more in the span of seven postseason games against the Dodgers and Cubs. His bat quieted in the World Series, and he also committed a costly error in Game 4. The idea that 14 postseason games had his free agent value swinging $20MM in either direction was always nonsense, as a qualifying offer and a contract in the range of Chase Headley‘s four-year, $52MM pact made sense for Murphy before the postseason narratives set in. The Angels and Yankees are the favorites among MLBTR writers, with the White Sox also getting a mention.
Ian Kennedy - Angels. Four years, $52MM. Kennedy had a 4.28 ERA for the Padres but seemed deserving of better. He will deal with the drag of a qualifying offer, but several teams will gravitate toward a pitcher with a 9.3 K/9 over the last two seasons. Kennedy's biggest issue is home runs; no one posted a higher rate per nine innings this year. The Angels, Giants, Astros, Tigers, Blue Jays, and Orioles are potential suitors.
I have to be honest, the offseason outlined above would make me pretty angry. Not only are the dollars and years pretty outrageous, but the message these signings would send would be one of having learned nothing from a past full of long and expensive free-agent gambles; continual undervaluing of what a good farm system can reap (something the lack of a QO to David Freese also seems to signify); and the tired notion that past success equals future rewards.
Sure, these moves would fill the hole in LF and the hole at 3B/2B, but how well? And with several other, more promising options out there, why make these kinds of commitments to these kinds of players? To put it bluntly, the Angels would be forfeiting a draft pick and making a lengthy and expensive investment in three players on the wrong side of 30.
Luckily, they're just predictions. For now.