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Weekend HaloLinks: Kicking off the hot stove with a little Up-Town Funk

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For the second straight year, Billy Eppler solidifies left field on offseason, day 1.

Texas Rangers v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

As baseball writers have been assembling their lists of top free agents in preparation of the Hot Stove season, Angels’ GM Billy Eppler took one major player off their big board, inking Justin Upton to a 5 year, $108 million deal.

The Angels now have the biggest piece they were hoping to land this offseason, a big bat to pair with Mike Trout, while also establishing their outfield as one of the very best in the business. There is much work to be done, but this is a heck of a way to kick off an offseason.

Let us head into the weekend with some Halolinks:

Some Angels News!

It was never a certainty that Justin Upton was going to exercise his opt-out clause, as teams have been reluctant to spend big on offense the last few seasons. Couple that with MLB clubs saving their pennies for the upcoming monster 2018-19 free agent class, it makes sense that a simple restructuring of his current deal was the way to go. One of the rare occasions where the contract appears to be just as good for the team as it is for the player.

Jeff Sullivan at Fangraphs likes this move for the Angels, as it gives them one of the most enviable cores in the game. However, he lacks faith in the health of their talented pitching staff for them to come anywhere near unseating the World Champion Astros in the AL West.

Beyond locking up his left fielder, Billy Eppler did some house cleaning yesterday, declining the options on pitchers Ricky Nolasco and Huston Street. Street, of course, barely pitched and the Angels’ pen was all the better for it. As for Nolasco, the cost of acquiring hard-throwing righty Alex Meyer (who will miss next season after Tommy John surgery) cost the Angels more than they anticipated, as they went 10-23 in Nolasco’s starts. The Angels, of course, finished 5 games behind his former team in the wild card standings, giving the Twins the last laugh in that trade.

Elsewhere in Baseball

The day was filled with second-guessing regarding Dave Roberts’ decision to start Yu Darvish in game 7 rather than Clayton Kershaw on short rest, but the choice was not as simple as many make it seem. I’m still not buying the rationale. There are many smart analysts who argue teams should their closer or set-up man in the first inning, as it is the only inning of a game that is guaranteed to be meaningful. In this case, with Kershaw assured to be pitching, regardless, why risk giving up any runs at all by not using your best pitcher to start the game? The cost of acquiring Darvish should not factor into that situation.

Setting aside the big-money Red Sox and Cubs, the Astros might be the first purely SABR-driven team to take the whole enchilada. Sam Miller looks to take down the old adage that “you can’t predict baseball.” The Astros succeed where Billy Beane did not, in constantly trying to buy low on future value. Beane has had plenty of questionable moves in recent years that stand on their own, but one has to question what he could have accomplished with even a modest payroll, before the rest of the league caught up to the analytics game.

Duffle Bag

Welcome to the lion’s den, Gabe Kapler... It worked for the Astros, but beware if every team follows their tear-it-down model... An elite left-handed reliever will hit the open market... MLBTradeRumors releases their indispensable Top 50 Free Agent list, complete with predictions...