Long a fan favorite for his flying defensive plays, strong arm, and ever present hustle Kole Calhoun may have played his final game as a member of the Los Angels Angels. Or he might not have, depending upon whether the Angels choose to pay him $14 million to play for the team in 2020 or $1 million to become a free agent.
If Calhoun leaves, he will do so on the heels of an offensive season that was 8% better than the average MLB player as calculated by both OPS+ and wRC+. According to Baseball-Reference.com he was worth 2.3 WAR in 2019; Fangraphs pegs him at 2.5.
Overall, Calhoun has career numbers of .249/.322/.424 which aren’t far off his 2019 line of .232/.325/.467. That last number represent his best slugging percentage in a season. However, last year he also ranked neutral to slightly negative in overall fielding.
Calhoun will turn 32 during these playoffs and the Angels have pressing needs elsewhere on the diamond, most notably the pitching mound. Looking at the upcoming slew of free agent pitchers, it isn’t hard to find a name or two that could be had for the same $13 million the team would save without Kole.
If the team decides to cut Kole loose, the obvious replacement would be Brian Goodwin. A last minute waiver claim from Kansas City, Goodwin put up numbers eerily similar to Kole’s this year, rating 9% better than MLB average by OPS+ and wRC+. He put up 2.1 WAR per BB-Ref and 1.9 per Fangraphs in about 15% less playing time than Calhoun.
Most importantly, however, Goodwin is nearly 3 years younger than Calhoun and not yet eligible for arbitration. That means Goodwin can be paid a little over $500,000, making him the far less expensive option.
If Calhoun is retained, the outfield is essentially set for 2019. Calhoun in right, Trout in center, Upton in left and Goodwin is the fourth outfielder/pinch hitter.
Roster construction could take a number of paths if Calhoun is not retained. With uber versatile David Fletcher on the roster and Goodwin capable of spelling Trout in center from time to time, the team could forgo the typical 4th outfielder. Perhaps the team signs a free agent to either cover right or be a backup.
Or, perhaps Calhoun circles back around to the Angels and signs a free agent contract with a lower salary.
The looming question really is Jo Adell. When will the super prospect be ready for MLB, and more importantly, when will the Angels start that all important service time clock?
In a big offseason for the Angels, the first personnel move will be Calhoun’s option. The Angels must decide within days of the World Series ending, and that decision will have a very large impact on the remainder of the off season.
So, what do you think? Have we seen the last of Kole Calhoun as an Angel?
Will Kole Calhoun be an Angel next year?
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