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Angels News and Notes: Arbitration agreements, new Ohtani rule, trade rumors, and more

Catching up on some news items out of Angels camp in recent days

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MLB: Texas Rangers at Los Angeles Angels Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

After more than three months with no baseball whatsoever, we’re finally back to business as usual. Spring Training games have been going on for almost a week now, and Opening Day is on all of our collective radars just a few weeks away.

After staying quiet for the first couple of days post-lockout, the Angels jumped back into the mix with a couple of moves of their own. They’ve also been in the news for a couple of other things as well, some of which you might have missed. If that’s the case for you, we’ve got you covered right here, as we’ve compiled some of those news items into a handy roundup for your viewing pleasure:

Halos avoid arbitration with all three eligible players

One of the many things around baseball that was thrown off schedule by the 99-day lockout was the arbitration process, which got put on hold following the last date to offer contracts to players all the way back on November 30. The new deadline for teams to finally file for arbitration was set for Tuesday after the new CBA was enacted about two weeks ago, and ahead of that time, the Angels reached agreements with Max Stassi, Mike Mayers and Tyler Wade, all three of their eligible players.

The most expensive of the three deals is Stassi’s, which came in at $3 million (an increase of $1.4 million from last season) in his final year of arbitration. Following that was Mayers at $2.15 million (up from $1.2 million) in his second year, and Wade got $825,000 in his first year.

With all three of those figures added into the equation, the Angels’ payroll for 2022 now sits at approximately $188 million, with their luxury tax payroll coming in a bit higher at $203 million. The former figure sits just above the $182 million mark they came in at the end of last season, and the latter is around $30 million below the new luxury tax threshold put into place by the new CBA.

Settling all of these cases without going to a hearing was the expected outcome, as the only time the club failed to reach an agreement with a player before the deadline in the past decade was with outfielder Brian Goodwin in 2020. Goodwin ended up winning his case in that hearing and was awarded $2.2 million for that season, up from the $1.85 million that the Halos offered him.

MLB enacts new “Shohei Ohtani Rule” for 2022 and beyond

Negotiations between MLB and the MLBPA have been ongoing even after the lockout ended, and on Tuesday afternoon, the two sides agreed on a couple of different items that would go into effect this season. Some of these—expanded rosters in April, the return of the runner on second rule in extra innings, and reverting back nine inning doubleheaders—affect every team around the league, but one of them looks to be a huge boost to the Angels in particular.

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the league has put a new “Shohei Ohtani Rule” into effect for 2022 and beyond. The rule states that a starting pitcher who is also in the batting lineup, like Ohtani was on a regular basis last year, can stay in the game as a hitter even after being pulled on the mound, and it was reportedly put in place to encourage more two-way players in the future.

One of the drawbacks to giving up the designated hitter during Ohtani’s starts last year was that the Angels always ran the risk of losing his bat in the lineup and blowing through their bench pinch hitting for the pitcher’s spot if he couldn’t work deep into the game, but because of the new rule, this scenario will no longer be an issue for them going forward.

The club—and manager Joe Maddon in particular—had been lobbying for this to happen since the end of last year, and now that they have gotten their wish, the benefits that they will now enjoy because of it are pretty significant. If the rule had been in place in 2021, it would’ve given Ohtani at least 22 more at bats than he ended the season with, a total that doesn’t even include games where he pitched but didn’t hit at all because of the risks mentioned earlier. Any extra Ohtani plate appearance is a good thing for the Halos, and it looks like we’re going to see a lot more of them in 2022.

Angels interested in Oakland’s Montas and Manaea

The Athletics have already gotten through the majority of their long-awaited fire sale over the last week or so, shipping off longtime contributors Matt Olson, Matt Chapman and Chris Bassitt to the Braves, Blue Jays and Mets respectively. They don’t appear to be completely done, however, as a pair of the pitchers still left in their rotation—righty Frankie Montas and lefty Sean Manaea—are still drawing pretty significant interest from clubs around the league.

One of the these teams, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, is none other than the Angels, who have reportedly checked in with their division rivals on the availability of those two names:

The Angels’ bullpen figures to be deeper and much-improved — and it should be, at a combined cost of $92.75 million for free agents Raisel Iglesias, Aaron Loup, Ryan Tepera and Archie Bradley.

The team’s two rotation additions, Noah Syndergaard and Michael Lorenzen, cost another $27.75 million, and both come with risk. The Angels are among the teams interested in A’s starters Frankie Montas and Sean Manaea. However, they are likely to be outbid. The Athletic’s Keith Law ranks their system only 23rd in the majors.

As Rosenthal is quick to mention, the likelihood that the Halos manage to swing a deal for either Montas or Manaea isn’t very high, as trying to complete an inter-division trade with their subpar farm system will probably prove to be a difficult task. Either one of them would be pretty significant additions to the club’s rotation, though, and both could be had at pretty manageable prices payroll-wise.

Out of those two, Montas would be the biggest get, as he was the better of the two and has an extra year of control over Manaea. The 29-year-old righty was excellent in 2021, posting a 3.37 ERA and FIP while striking out 207 hitters in 187 innings. Manaea was no slouch, though, posting a 3.97 ERA and 3.66 FIP of his own while racking up 194 strikeouts in 179.1 innings.

In a tweet on Wednesday morning, Rosenthal mentioned that the A’s are more likely to work things out with Manaea before shifting their attention to Montas. Either way, a deal likely has to get done pretty soon considering that Opening Day is just over two weeks away, so the situation is worth monitoring at the very least.

Pair of pitchers DFAd to make room for Tepera and Bradley

When the Angels brought on relievers Ryan Tepera and Archie Bradley last Thursday, it left them needing to make a pair of roster moves into bring their 40-man roster down to the correct amount of players. These moves came earlier this week, with pitchers Packy Naughton and Kyle Tyler both getting designated for assignment.

Naughton debuted for the Halos back in August last year and pitched to a 6.35 ERA in seven games (five starts) toward the end of the season. He ended up getting claimed by the Cardinals. Tyler debuted a month after Naughton in September and pitched to a 2.92 ERA across five relief appearances down the stretch. He was claimed by the Red Sox.