Over at Halo Hangout I wrote a piece wondering if the Angels would be better off not signing Zack Greinke. This was based off the premise that the Angels already had $92 million committed next year at the time and had committed $325 million to just two players last off-season. Would it be a good idea to really commit another 100 million dollar-plus contract?
I approached the piece thinking that it was clearly not the greatest idea, no matter how good Greinke is, to make such another long-term commitment. Numerous, big long-term contracts on a single team seems always unsustainable. However, after writing the piece it became clear to me that Dipoto's moves last off-season and during the season pointed towards a mentality that seemed focused on throwing all the chips in for a championship now. Which actually might not have been such a bad mentality given the current state of the Angels roster.
Even with the farm system gutted, the Angels currently have a mostly solid core roster of starting players. Going into this off-season, there seemed to only really be two areas that needed improvement: the bullpen and the back-end of the rotation. Santana was on his way out. The verdict on Haren was undetermined. Early into the off-season, though, it became clear Dipoto was blowing up the rotation by trading Santana and not re-signing Haren.
After these moves, the Angels had $92 million dollars in 2013 committed and four players who are arbitration eligible which estimating should cost the Angels $10-12 million and put the Angels payroll at roughly $100 million. Leaving them something to the effect of $50-55 million to spend this year. Assuming, Greinke got his desired 150 million over 7 years, that would be enough to sign him and a back-end rotation guy and maybe even some cheap bullpen arms.
Clearly, Dipoto had other ideas. As Greinke mentioned yesterday, talks with the Angels never really took off. Dipoto's priorities were elsewhere.
The Angels gave up three good prospects for Greinke, he' not injury plagued and there is nothing particularly worrying in his peripherals. With him signing elsewhere, the Angels get nothing in return. And more importantly, it looks like they could have afforded him. Why not make a real run at him?
It's hard to figure out what is going on in the Angels front-office. Everything in the past few years and with all the lucrative contracts that the Angels have been handing out, they are acting as if poised on winning now and willing to deal with the fallout of being financially constrained to aging players in their mid-30s later.
Which makes putting the brakes on spending now somewhat confusing. If you are going to be a big market team, then you commit yourself to making these type of deals.
One very real possibility is that Moreno wants to lower the payroll back to its 2011 level, decreasing it by $10-15 million. Still, does that doesn't coincide with the efforts over the past couple years. Perhaps, missing the playoffs the last three years has Moreno thinking of alternatives.
That being said, signing Greinke might have been one of the better and smarter long-term signings the Angels could have made. It would have solidified the top-end of the rotation for years to come. Instead, they are left with a questionable rotation full of injury-risk and don't seem particularly in any better shape than they were last year. Their farm system is hurting and as mentioned they received nothing from Greinke going elsewhere but a couple solid late, season months from him.
The off-season is long from over. Maybe Dipoto will go after another pitcher or make a big move. If not, the same question marks that were there last year still exist. They just seemed to be placed elsewhere now. A Greinke signing might have changed that.