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2017 Angels season preview: Players entering their contract year with something to prove

This list of guys are playing for their future as much as they are for their team

MLB: Spring Training-Seattle Mariners at Los Angeles Angels Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve long thought that baseball (and other sports) players should be paid in a given year based on how they performed the prior year. Of course that doesn’t work with multi-year contracts but you could still do a base contract with performance based incentives every year. The way contracts are structured now, when a player goes into his contract year he generally has a bigger chip on his shoulder. That is the guy playing for his future, for his family, and for the next big contract. Not that an MLB player doesn’t try their best in any given season, but they certainly have more incentive to go above and beyond in a contract year.

That being said, I’ve got the list of Angels players that are going to try to earn that next big paycheck after the season is over, so will be hoping for a career year (or at least a good one).

Ricky Nolasco

Nolasco is making 12 million this year with a team option of 13 million for 2018. I’m sure he’d rather stick around Anaheim and make a guaranteed 13 million next year if he can pitch well enough for the Angels to want him back. The 2018 rotation already looks like Richards, Shoemaker, Heaney, Tropeano, and Skaggs so he’s going to need a great year to earn that option.

Cameron Maybin

Maybin hasn’t been shy about his love for playing in Anaheim. He didn’t get off to a great start in spring and he’s only signed for one year at 9 million. The Angels don’t really have replacement for him at this point and next year’s free agent market is a bit hit or miss (Josh Hamilton anyone?). Maybin needs to have at least a replacement level year to stick around and given the lack of readily available options for 2018, he has a good shot at it depending on his asking price and how well Ben Revere (below) plays.

Yunel Escobar

Escobar’s deal is up and at 7 million dollars he’s been a relative bargain. He’s one of the most consistent on base guys the team has, but do they want him around past this year? Given the penchant for defense by Billy Eppler, he would seem to be on the outs. His price will likely go up and the Angels have Caleb Cowart, and Jefry Marte as possible heirs to the hot corner. I’m not sure the Angels will want to keep him around but poor years by the other guys and a great year by Yuni could keep him in play for a new contract unless the Angels look elsewhere in the free agent market.

Jesse Chavez

Chavez will be 34 years old and with the combination of starters returning plus bullpen ready arms coming out of Salt Lake, he may not be needed past this season. Still, he has something to prove and a good year could make the Angels interested in him being a long man out of the pen (assuming he wants a role like that). My guess is this will be the only year we see Chavez on the team so don’t go rushing out to buy his jersey.

Danny Espinosa

The bearded, um, unbearded, lightly bearded man has come back home to Orange County and is going to want to stay. Sherman Johnson and Nolan Fontana would be the next guys ready to land at second base, but Espinosa could stick around a bit longer if he has a good year. The problem here could be David Fletcher who may land in Salt Lake to start the season and could be ready to take over (and for much cheaper) in 2018. Not sure if Espinosa should rush out and buy a house just yet but he has a shot perhaps at a short term extension.

Ben Revere

Revere is kind of pricey for a 4th outfielder at 4 million. However, like Maybin, he could stay since the Angels don’t really have any outfielders pounding at the big league door. Based on spring training results, I’d say Revere even has a shot to bump Maybin as a starter this year so he definitely has something to prove. Revere is only 29 years old this season.

Cliff Pennington

Pennington will be fighting this year for a good 2018 contract as well but don’t expect it to be with the Angels. There are plenty of guys the Angels could sign or call up to fill that utility role and this 33 year old will probably be looking for new team colors next season.

Andrew Bailey

Bailey made 8 million over the 2012-2013 seasons with the Red Sox and has to longing for that type of payday again. The Angels signed him for a one year 1 million dollar deal which is about triple what he made in his 2014-2016 seasons. Bailey will be turning 33 soon, so a great 2017 may be his last shot at a lucrative multi year deal.