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OC Register: Kole Calhoun enters what could be the final week of his Angels career


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HOUSTON — As Kole Calhoun heads into the final week of the season, he is aware that it may also be his final week with the only franchise he’s ever known.

For now, he’s trying not to think about it.

“I am just trying to go out and play,” Calhoun said this weekend. “I can’t control it. It is what it is. Obviously I’d love to be here. This is home for me and really all I know in this game. This organization has meant everything to me. We’ll see what happens.”

The Angels hold a $14 million option on Calhoun for 2020, with a $1 million buyout. They have to decide on the option within five days of the end of the World Series.

Considering the Angels’ need to commit resources to pitching — high end pitching, at that — and considering that they have Jo Adell on the way, it would seem unlikely that they would pick up Calhoun’s option. It’s possible they could decline the option and try to bring Calhoun back at a lower salary.

“I don’t know how it’s going to shake out,” Calhoun said. “I just go out and play. We’ll deal with all that after the season.”

Ever since the Angels drafted the unheralded Calhoun out of Arizona State in the eighth round in 2010, he’s fought to build himself a big league career. He won a Gold Glove in 2015 and in January 2017 signed a three-year deal, with an option for 2020.

It may have seemed a foregone conclusion that Calhoun’s Angels career was going to end in 2019 after way he was headed in the middle of 2018.

Calhoun, who turns 32 next month, made a dramatic turnaround last June, revamping his swing and finishing with an .800 OPS and 18 homers over his final 87 games.

This year, Calhoun has enjoyed arguably his most consistent season in an Angels uniform, avoiding the month-long slumps that plagued him earlier in his career.

Heading into Sunday’s game against the Houston Astros, Calhoun was hitting .237 with a career-high 33 homers and an .809 OPS.

“There are still things I wish I could have done better, but overall it’s a pretty good year, probably one of my better years offensively,” Calhoun said. “Some of the numbers really don’t look like what you want them to look like but I feel like it went pretty good.”

Calhoun has played in 146 of the Angels’ 156 games, making him one of the few constants in what has been an injury-marred season for much of the rest of the team.

“He’s been one of our more consistent hitters, especially from a power perspective,” Manager Brad Ausmus said. “Last year, the first half was extremely tough on him, probably mentally more than anything. Probably learned a lot about himself and this year he’s been a tremendous asset from an offensive standpoint and defensively he’s a Gold Glover.

“And the last thing I’m going to say is he’s a huge component of the clubhouse culture. He has a great attitude every day, he plays hard, he works hard, he sets a good example for our younger players and older players for that matter.”

For as much as Calhoun has brought to the Angels, they have alternatives. Brian Goodwin, who will make about $3 million in his first year of arbitration next season, has hit .264 with 16 homers and a .794 OPS in about three-quarters of the playing time as Calhoun.

And, of course, Adell is looming.

Adell, 20, is one of the top prospects in baseball. He hit .289 with 10 homers and an .834 OPS this season, going from Class-A to Double-A to Triple-A after missing the start of the season with an injury. He is now playing in the Arizona Fall League.

Even if the Angels don’t feel Adell is ready to be their right fielder on opening day 2020, he figures to be ready sometime next season.

“There is always going to be somebody coming,” Calhoun said. “I think the future of the Angels looks bright. There’s a guy coming that’s going be really, really good. The last time there was a guy that was talked about as much as he is, it was Mike Trout. So we should be pretty excited.

“If now is the time, now is the time. I’d love to be here, but it’s not up to me.”

LANGSTON UPDATE

Mark Langston remained hospitalized, but improving and in good spirits, on Sunday in Houston. The Angels radio broadcaster collapsed in the booth just before Friday’s game with what radio partner Terry Smith said was a heart condition. Langston was expected to remain in Houston for tests and observation after the team returned to Southern California following Sunday’s game.

UP NEXT

Angels (LHP Dillon Peters, 3-3, 4.81) vs. A’s (TBA), Tuesday, 7:07 p.m., Fox Sports West

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Bummer news take. Not the article, but the reality.

Calhoun, for all his warts, has been one of the few constants of this org the last several years. Tough to see him go.

Gonna miss his defense... even not hitting, he was still good for something cool to see every few games.

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I hope they find a way to bring him back at a lower salary.   Goodwin is a useful player as a backup, Adell needs to improve his batting eye stil, he's yet to have an established level of success at the higher levels of the minors.   It likely comes down to what other offers end up out there.

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I still have hope we bring him back at a lower cost.  Most seem to think hes still worth around 8ish.  The problem isnt his performance its the money.  If we could get him back for about that to give Adell a little more time i would have zero issue with it.
I realize we have other options etc... and its probably moot, but the reality is that hes still better than any of them for the next 1-2 years. 

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7 hours ago, Inside Pitch said:

I hope they find a way to bring him back at a lower salary. 

That would an interesting scenario. First you have to pay his buyout, release him, then see if he will take the lesser sum for a one year contract, where he knows Adell is one good month at AAA from replacing him. 

Then, do you keep Calhoun for continued defensive mentoring for Adell or shop him at the trade deadline? It could be the best usage of salary to hold down the fort for the new kid and then flip Calhoun for prospects or another arm for the second half. 

Another team only needs to beat your one year deal to tip the scales. Calhoun seems like a guy that wants to keep playing and does not want to wonder if he gets another chance in 2021.

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2 minutes ago, Blarg said:

That would an interesting scenario. First you have to pay his buyout, release him, then see if he will take the lesser sum for a one year contract, where he knows Adell is one good month at AAA from replacing him. 

Then, do you keep Calhoun for continued defensive mentoring for Adell or shop him at the trade deadline? It could be the best usage of salary to hold down the fort for the new kid and then flip Calhoun for prospects or another arm for the second half. 

Another team only needs to beat your one year deal to tip the scales. Calhoun seems like a guy that wants to keep playing and does not want to wonder if he gets another chance in 2021.

Agree across the board.  Any two year deal trumps whatever the Angels likely would offer and anything more than a one year deal might be foolish on the Angels part because there is Adell, and Marsh.  It's mostly wishful thinking on my part.  Upton and Goodwin in the OF at the same time makes for some ugly defense IMO.

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Holy crap, taking a look at the Rangers lineup they had 4 guys with an OPS+ in the 70's, Jeff Mathis with a 10! Only two starting players had an OPS+ over 100, the highest was Willie Calhoun at 109.

How did they score any runs? Odor lead the team in doucheness and home runs at 27.

Kole would be a superstar in that lineup. 

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10 hours ago, Blarg said:

Taking a quick look at the Rangers, they could look at Calhoun as a good backup for Mazara that has never really had a breakout season and the Rangers minor leagues doesn't seem to have a standout outfielder ready to jump to the bigs. I can see them giving Calhoun a two plus option contract.

Boy oh boy I really hope that doesn't happen.  I really like Kole and I'd hate to see him go to a division rival.  

I'd have a feeling that he would come back and haunt the Angels like Mike Napoli used to.  A player who may be hitting .230, but when he comes back against the Angels, he hits .540 with 8 HR's during the season.

That would suck

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It's funny how so many want Kole gone. So far he has hit 33 HR's this year.... Reggie Jackson on his average year hit 32. 

 

4 things to look at....

1. Defense-  Great. Kole is a stud.

2. HR's- Very good.

3. OBP- Average.... League average is .323. Kole .328.

4. Clubhouse- Great 

 

So 2 Great. 1 very good. 1 Average. To me that translates into a pretty darn good player. To get that for $14 million for 1 year in MLB is not bad at all.

 

Getting paid $14 million a year is not a bad return at all. Plus the buyout is some money. We are paying Pujols how much next year.?We are paying Upton how much next year? I get it.... the pitching sucks.... but now they will make a weakness in RF. Adell next year will probably not be an upgrade. Put Upton at 1B. Upton is not great in the OF. Part time he can DH. I don't want to see Bour next year. Pujols cannot play 162 at 1b. Ohtani IF healthy will not be the DH for 162. For everyone thinking we need to dump everything into pitching.... everyone is acting like those guys ( Gerrit Cole)  have already signed with the Angels and it is a foregone conclusion.  The pitching will probably still suck a little bit next year. If the offense is a little bit worse next year.... 

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Just for reference from last off-season, non minor league deals were given to the following outfielders:

 

Michael Brantley (age 32, 4 years 32 mil)

Lonnie Chisenhall (age 30, 1 year 2.75 mil)

Avisail Garcia (age 28, 1 year 3 million)

Bret Gardner (age 36, 1 year 7.5 mil)

Robbie Grossman (age 30, 1 year 2 mil)

Billy Hamilton (age 29, 1 year 5.25 mil)

Bryce Harper (age 26, 13 years 330 mil)

Adam Jones (age 34, 1 year 3 mil)

Nick Markakis (age 35, 1 year 6 mil)

Andrew Mccutchen (age 32, 3 years 50 mil)

AJ Pollock (age 31, 5 years 60 mil)

 

Multi-year deals were given to Brantley, Harper, Mccutchen, Pollock, who all are either a former MVP or All Star. Pollock is already looking like an ugly contract but the Dodgers can just replace him with a top prospect making the minimum as soon as Pollock isn’t useful. The others are obvious multi year candidates.

For the 1 year deals, Gardner I imagine was only ever going to get that much from the Yankees and Markakis got paid for his all star season and to be a veteran presence. I wouldn’t be surprised if Calhoun looks at these vets re-signing with their team and thinking he should get 6-7.5 mil from the Angels. He’s younger and smack dab in the middle of those players production this year.

Garcia was coming off a terrible year but was an All star a couple years ago and is only 28- he only got 1 year 3 million. He’s having a pretty similar season to Calhoun actually and would seem to be a more preferred option for a team in the OF market. And yet his season or career aren't as good as the guys who got multi year deals. He probably gets like 2 years 10-12 million maybe.

The other 1 years deals aren’t paying dividends. Calhoun is having a better season than those guys had before signing; but given how poorly these 1 year OF deals have gone and that he’s in the older range of said players, I don’t see teams offering him a lot. The 1 year deals given to a player from outside their organization were between 2-3 million, except for 29 year old Hamilton.

based on this, it seems Calhoun would assuredly be looking for 6-7.5 million annually but will likely settle for about 3-4 million. Unless someone wants to give him an insane Pollock-esque contract to be a great clubhouse guy and defender power bat (not happening)

i think 1 yr/3-4 mil is a fair deal based on the market and I would be fine with that. 

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Would this work for 2020?

Kole plays half the time in RF, and the other half at 1B.   Then Pujols at age 40 doesn't have to play 130-140 games at 1B, just around 70-80 games at 1B and 50 games as the DH.    LaStella can fill in at 1B for the other 15-20 games.

Adell plays half the time in RF, and fills in for Upton and Trout when they are out of the lineup or need a breather.

Trade Goodwin, now that he has some trade value, for a decent reliever and a starting pitching prospect that has fallen from grace but has good stuff.        Give Hermosillo the 4th OF job.

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On 9/23/2019 at 9:31 AM, floplag said:

I still have hope we bring him back at a lower cost.  Most seem to think hes still worth around 8ish.  The problem isnt his performance its the money.  If we could get him back for about that to give Adell a little more time i would have zero issue with it.
I realize we have other options etc... and its probably moot, but the reality is that hes still better than any of them for the next 1-2 years. 

This is what I actually see happening. He isn't worth $14M for next season, but he does have value.

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