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OC Register: Angels GM Billy Eppler says they ‘stretched’ budget to land Cody Allen


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Cody Allen may have been the last piece to the puzzle for the Angels’ offseason.

A day after the Angels officially completed the $8.5 million deal for the new closer, general manager Billy Eppler said Monday that the club needed the “blessing” of owner Arte Moreno to “stretch” the budget.

Asked then if that meant the Angels were finished for the winter, Eppler would not go that far, but he did suggest that he sees no glaring holes.

“We are a point where we feel complete with our club,” he said.

Allen’s deal stretches the Angels current major league payroll to around $182 million, including some expected performance bonuses. Allen, Trevor Cahill and Matt Harvey alone could earn up to $6.5 million in performance bonuses.

Their payroll will be in the top quarter in the major leagues in 2019, according to an industry source.

Last season’s final payroll was about $176 million.

Based on those figures and Eppler’s comments, it would seem unlikely that the Angels would enter the fray for any of the remaining free agents.

“We feel very good with the names we have on our depth chart right now,” Eppler said.

The core of the pitching staff is a rotation led by Tyler Skaggs, Andrew Heaney, Harvey, Cahill, Jaime Barría and Nick Tropeano, with top prospects Griffin Canning and José Suarez waiting in Triple-A.

Allen now anchors a bullpen, surrounded by hard-throwing Ty Buttrey, Hansel Robles, Justin Anderson and Luis Garcia, with Cam Bedrosian also in the mix.

JC Ramírez and Keynan Middleton are expected back from Tommy John surgery around midseason.

Offensively, the Angels have added Justin Bour to supplement the production around Albert Pujols and Shohei Ohtani, with Jonathan Lucroy at catcher and Tommy La Stella as a utility infielder.

They also hoping to get full seasons from Zack Cozart, Kole Calhoun, Pujols and Mike Trout, all of whom missed time with injuries. Cozart and Calhoun also performed below their career norms when healthy. Ohtani also figures to get perhaps double the number of at-bats this season, as he focuses solely on hitting while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

“I think people realize how significant our offense is,” Eppler said. “Last season we were one of the top clubs in home runs (seventh in the majors),” Eppler said. “We wanted to address on-base percentage and we felt with some of the guys we’ve gone out to add that they can increase our overall on-base percentage, which was a goal of ours over the winter.”

The Angels had been plugging holes with stopgaps in the everyday lineup and the rotation ever since Eppler arrived in October 2015, mostly because he inherited the worst farm system in the majors.

Eppler has since traded just one top prospect (Sean Newcomb, to get Andrelton Simmons) but otherwise allowed the farm system to refresh while cycling through short-term fixes on the big league level.

That approach has left him few resources to commit to the bullpen, making the Allen deal uncharacteristic. Allen is the first free agent reliever that Eppler has signed to a guaranteed major league deal.

And he did so after what was, by some measures, Allen’s worst season.

After posting a cumulative 2.59 ERA over five seasons, Allen had a career-worst 4.70 mark in 2018. Eppler, however, pointed out that his ERA was skewed by a few bad outings, and also said that the same size of a reliever’s innings is too small for using ERA as a barometer of performance.

“I think it’s just dangerous to look at ERA and make determinations on that, especially in a reliever,” Eppler said. “I don’t think that ERA was appropriate for the level of pitcher that Cody has been.”

Allen’s velocity also declined slightly in 2018, which Eppler said was likely the result of a “timing” issue in his delivery. Eppler said Allen had been aware of the issue before discussing it with the Angels in their talks leading up to the deal.

Allen’s history and his awareness of what went wrong last year led the Angels to believe he was the right player for them to make a rare foray into the high-priced reliever market.

“Cody has a history of durability and a history of being a well above average reliever, and obviously has a history of closing big games in big spots, and we anticipate him being our closer,” Eppler said. “One of the things we talked about was him being our closer and adding that playoff experience and veteran presence to a young group.”

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6 minutes ago, DMVol said:

Wait....I was told we were 50 million under the luxury tax and had plenty to spend....@floplag

 

Does it matter at this point?  The budget has nothing to do with the lux tax, were not even close to triggering it.  Whether or not we actually have money to spend is a different issue.  

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30 minutes ago, DMVol said:

Wait....I was told we were 50 million under the luxury tax and had plenty to spend....@floplag

 

I believe the number I had been telling people was $30M.

They spent around $37M on Harvey, Cahill, Allen, Bour and Lucroy (adding in reaching some of the incentives) and they saved around $7M by getting rid of Shoemaker and Parker.

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2 minutes ago, Jeff Fletcher said:

I believe the number I had been telling people was $30M.

They spent around $37M on Harvey, Cahill, Allen, Bour and Lucroy (adding in reaching some of the incentives) and they saved around $7M by getting rid of Shoemaker and Parker.

I think that was the number I was operating under, Jeff, based on what you had said all offseason....

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26 minutes ago, floplag said:

Does it matter at this point?  The budget has nothing to do with the lux tax, were not even close to triggering it.  Whether or not we actually have money to spend is a different issue.  

The luxury tax is 206 million....according to the article, we are now at 182....that's close enough that if you want to add a big contract or even two pieces in July, you need some room...and if Arte wants to stay under it (not making that argument that we should or shouldn't but stating a fact, based on what he has done for the last few years), then we probably are tapped out...it is frustrating for sure but the albatross of Pujols' contract is the biggest part of the equation, at least in my view...

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6 minutes ago, DMVol said:

The luxury tax is 206 million....according to the article, we are now at 182....that's close enough that if you want to add a big contract or even two pieces in July, you need some room...and if Arte wants to stay under it (not making that argument that we should or shouldn't but stating a fact, based on what he has done for the last few years), then we probably are tapped out...it is frustrating for sure but the albatross of Pujols' contract is the biggest part of the equation, at least in my view...

With respect, you are not taking into account all factors.  Either that or im misunderstanding something which is possible.  

Per Fletcher's spreadsheet posted after the Allen signing our AAV against the CBA right now is only 169M, this is the number used for that threshold. 
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Q7dlNaSqB4vip6QD88MCaahpPjiZrS7dgOam_TrElLg/edit#gid=0

My comment was pre-Allen so if you do the math... 206-169=37M.  Add 8.5 for Allen gets you 45M plus.  i rounded off, sue me  :)   Im certain it isnt that simple either but its over 40 no matter how you slice it if im reading him right.  If im not im certain someone will point it out. 

Regardless the tax isnt our issue, our budget is not close under any math and one has nothing to do with the other. 

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26 minutes ago, DMVol said:

The luxury tax is 206 million....according to the article, we are now at 182....that's close enough that if you want to add a big contract or even two pieces in July, you need some room...and if Arte wants to stay under it (not making that argument that we should or shouldn't but stating a fact, based on what he has done for the last few years), then we probably are tapped out...it is frustrating for sure but the albatross of Pujols' contract is the biggest part of the equation, at least in my view...

The $182M in the story is their actual major league payroll. It is not the figure used to calculate tax. That is a whole different thing. 

As I've stated many many many many many times, the Angels budget is not based on the luxury tax.

The only reason people even talk about he luxury tax is that for a few years the numbers were close to the same. Now they're not.

The Angels budget is based on what the Angels want to spend, which is based on their revenue and other expenses. I don't know exactly what any of those other numbers are and neither do any of you.

Here's what I can tell you: Their current payroll is higher than it was last year or any of the previous several years. It is in the top quarter of major league teams.

Edited by Jeff Fletcher
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2 hours ago, Jeff Fletcher said:

The $182M in the story is their actual major league payroll. It is not the figure used to calculate tax. That is a whole different thing. 

As I've stated many many many many many times, the Angels budget is not based on the luxury tax.

The only reason people even talk about he luxury tax is that for a few years the numbers were close to the same. Now they're not.

The Angels budget is based on what the Angels want to spend, which is based on their revenue and other expenses. I don't know exactly what any of those other numbers are and neither do any of you.

Here's what I can tell you: Their current payroll is higher than it was last year or any of the previous several years. It is in the top quarter of major league teams.

I get the point but it seems like more than a coincidence Jeff, if you are saying they are totally independent .....Arte’s “right player” quotes and his quote that he didn’t like going over the tax in 2004 seem to say it is a factor....not the only factor in the budget, for sure....

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34 minutes ago, Jeff Fletcher said:

The $182M in the story is their actual major league payroll. It is not the figure used to calculate tax. That is a whole different thing. 

As I've stated many many many many many times, the Angels budget is not based on the luxury tax.

The only reason people even talk about he luxury tax is that for a few years the numbers were close to the same. Now they're not.

The Angels budget is based on what the Angels want to spend, which is based on their revenue and other expenses. I don't know exactly what any of those other numbers are and neither do any of you.

Here's what I can tell you: Their current payroll is higher than it was last year or any of the previous several years. It is in the top quarter of major league teams.

The payroll figure last year was more if you include Ohtani's posting fee.

In 2017 the payroll was lower, but not if you count the dead money in Josh Hamilton's contract, it was around 188 luxury tax, and more in actual payroll.

But I get this is their budget. 

 

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4 minutes ago, Hubs said:

The payroll figure last year was more if you include Ohtani's posting fee.

In 2017 the payroll was lower, but not if you count the dead money in Josh Hamilton's contract, it was around 188 luxury tax, and more in actual payroll.

But I get this is their budget. 

 

I don't think their actual payroll had been higher than the luxury tax payroll until 2018, because that's the year Trout's deal flipped. His AAV is $24M and his annual salary went from $20M in 2017 to $34M in 2018.

 

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11 minutes ago, Jeff Fletcher said:

I don't think their actual payroll had been higher than the luxury tax payroll until 2018, because that's the year Trout's deal flipped. His AAV is $24M and his annual salary went from $20M in 2017 to $34M in 2018.

 

Cots has them at 188 year end in 2017, and 185 in 2016 with actual opening day payroll in the 165 range. That opening day figure doesn’t cover the 40-man minor leaguers or adds during the season, and doesn’t include the benefits. So they were awfully close to the AAV number both years. 

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Well if this is the case and Mr. Moreno is going to spend money on peanut players and not get real  players to get us to the top, He might as well sell the team. I'm tired of every off season seeing them get players that the fans want and not peanut players, and it has been the same for years now. He has money out off his ass and the team always complains. Maybe the fans should just not go to the games because we have families and don't get paid very much so we are on a budget as well, and see what he does when no one goes to the games and loses money. We still need a 3rd baseman and I say 1 more pitcher just in case there are injuries, If the pitching holds up and no injuries you can always trade at the trade deadline and get something we need.

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1 hour ago, bloodbrother said:

Damn, are they really penciling Cozart in as a starter? That's disappointing since he stunk last year and did nothing to deserve a starting spot besides the fact he makes over $12 million

The fact that cozart can be replaced with cowart, with minimal changes to jerseys, score cards and scoreboard box scores, makes him a frugal investment. 

Theres only one extra / that turns a z into a w. 

Weird! 

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38 minutes ago, Hubs said:

Cots has them at 188 year end in 2017, and 185 in 2016 with actual opening day payroll in the 165 range. That opening day figure doesn’t cover the 40-man minor leaguers or adds during the season, and doesn’t include the benefits. So they were awfully close to the AAV number both years. 

That's not that accurate. It also has the Angels paying Tazawa $7M last year

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1 hour ago, Jeff Fletcher said:

I don't think their actual payroll had been higher than the luxury tax payroll until 2018, because that's the year Trout's deal flipped. His AAV is $24M and his annual salary went from $20M in 2017 to $34M in 2018.

 

I recall Arte saying something like "I'd be willing to go over the tax threshold for the right player for one year", at least twice. We have never come close to the threshold ever since. I guess there just hasn't been the right player available.

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21 minutes ago, rottiesworld said:

Well if this is the case and Mr. Moreno is going to spend money on peanut players and not get real  players to get us to the top, He might as well sell the team. I'm tired of every off season seeing them get players that the fans want and not peanut players, and it has been the same for years now. He has money out off his ass and the team always complains. Maybe the fans should just not go to the games because we have families and don't get paid very much so we are on a budget as well, and see what he does when no one goes to the games and loses money. We still need a 3rd baseman and I say 1 more pitcher just in case there are injuries, If the pitching holds up and no injuries you can always trade at the trade deadline and get something we need.

Ever compared where the Angels rank in fan cost index, to where the rank in payroll?   By all means speak with your wallet but, Angel fans have it a lot easier than the fans of teams with similar payrolls.

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Just now, Ace-Of-Diamonds said:

I recall Arte saying something like "I'd be willing to go over the tax threshold for the right player for one year", at least twice. We have never come close to the threshold ever since. I guess there just hasn't been the right player available.

He still says that.

Also, the threshold has gone up. It doesn't automatically make the Angels have more money.

If you have $25,000 to spend on a car and I tell you that it's ok with me if you spend $30,000, that doesn't make you have more money.

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1 minute ago, Jeff Fletcher said:

He still says that.

Also, the threshold has gone up. It doesn't automatically make the Angels have more money.

If you have $25,000 to spend on a car and I tell you that it's ok with me if you spend $30,000, that doesn't make you have more money.

Thats the crux of the problem though isnt Jeff?  Does anyone actually believe thats all they have to spend?  I know i dont.   Most people i know or talk to dont believe the clubs arent making more than they claim.     Forbes magazine a typically trusted source on all things financial has estimated that the average revenue was 300M last year for example. 
To continue your analogy though hem saying they have a budget doesnt mean its all they cant spend, only that its all they are willing to spend.

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1 minute ago, floplag said:

Thats the crux of the problem though isnt Jeff?  Does anyone actually believe thats all they have to spend?  I know i dont.   Most people i know or talk to dont believe the clubs arent making more than they claim.     Forbes magazine a typically trusted source on all things financial has estimated that the average revenue was 300M last year for example. 
To continue your analogy though hem saying they have a budget doesnt mean its all they cant spend, only that its all they are willing to spend.

I’m sure with looming extensions for Trout and Ohtani when time comes, not to mention the pretty significant issue of a stadium new build, renovations, or relocation all on the immediate horizon, I can understand why at this point in time Arte might have a pretty set line in the sand on what he is comfortable allocating for Angels payroll. 

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