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OC Register: Perry Minasian says Angels can keep spending after Brandon Drury deal pushes payroll to record levels


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The Angels certainly have not spent their winter sitting idly by while owner Arte Moreno works on selling the team.

General Manager Perry Minasian said he hasn’t been surprised by Moreno’s green light to be active, but he appreciates it nonetheless.

“I’m not oblivious to the fact that in these types of situations, I think if you look historically, maybe the team that’s exploring a sale is not as active as we’ve been,” Minasian said on Friday. “So I think there’s something to be said for that.”

Minasian spoke to reporters a day after the Angels finalized a two-year, $17 million deal for utility infielder Brandon Drury. That deal stretched the Angels’ 2023 payroll commitments to about $206 million, which is a franchise record and ranks sixth in the majors. They spent around $180 million in 2022.

For purposes of the luxury tax, which is calculated differently, the Angels are at about $220 million. The first tax threshold kicks in at $233 million.

“I don’t think anybody can question what’s been invested in this club over the last 15-20 years,” Minasian said. “I don’t think that can be questioned. It’s my job to make better decisions than I’ve made over the last two years. That’s the biggest thing. Hopefully, with the additions we’ve been able to make, that will happen.”

Minasian, who said he has no idea when the ownership situation will be resolved, added that he’s got the go-ahead to keep pursuing improvements.

“I’m in constant communication with ownership, basically a daily basis and we’ve explored a lot of different areas and a lot of different places to improve this club and I don’t think that’ll stop until we get to spring training,” Minasian said. “How much more? Obviously, I’m not going to put a number on that. But I do think we can improve.”

The Angels still don’t have a true everyday shortstop, but at this point, all the impactful free agent shortstops are off the board. The Angels probably don’t have enough surplus young players to convince a team like the Chicago White Sox to trade Tim Anderson or the Milwaukee Brewers to trade Willy Adames.

The Angels still could upgrade their pitching with players who are on the free agent market.

Minasian acknowledged that they have one rotation spot “that doesn’t necessarily have anyone written in pen.” The best free agent starter available is right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, who will probably cost $13 million to $17 million per year for at least two seasons. On the relief market, the best pitcher is probably left-hander Andrew Chafin.

The Angels could also make a smaller move for left-hander Lucas Luetge, who was designated for assignment by the New York Yankees.

“Pitching is definitely something we’ll continue to look at and hopefully improve,” Minasian said.

The offensive roster seems to be set with the addition of Drury, who is the second veteran utility player the Angels have added this winter. Drury and Gio Urshela can both play all four infield positions and the corner outfield spots, although Urshela is the better defensive player and Drury is the better hitter.

Either player could fill in at third base if Anthony Rendon gets hurt again or when he needs a day off. Either could also play first base if the Angels chose not to have Jared Walsh start against lefties.

When both Walsh and Rendon are in the lineup, though, it seems that Drury’s best spot would be second base, which means one of David Fletcher, Luis Rengifo or Andrew Velazquez would be at shortstop.

Although defense will be more important for middle infielders without the safety net of a shift next season, Minasian said Drury can still handle playing second.

“We think he’s a solid defender at second base,” Minasian said. “He moves well. He’s a bigger guy (6-foot-2), so there’s length. Maybe it takes him less steps to cover certain amount of ground than it will take somebody in as a smaller package, per se. He understands the angles of playing second base. He can make the turn on a double play. The arm strength is there, so we feel good about it.”

Offensively, Drury is coming off of his best season, hitting 28 home runs with an .813 OPS with the Cincinnati Reds and Padres. Minasian said the Angels tried to sign him to a minor-league deal before he signed with the Reds last winter.

This time, Drury picked the Angels over other teams that were offering him more money, Minasian said.

Minasian said the Angels are happy to have him because he and Urshela add another layer of depth that the Angels lacked last season. In 2022, the Angels didn’t get much out of Rendon, Walsh or Fletcher, mostly because of injuries. The cast of players they had to replace them was collectively well below average.

“I feel like we’re way better equipped to handle an injury or two than we were in previous seasons,” Minasian said.

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21 hours ago, AngelsWin.com said:

Minasian spoke to reporters a day after the Angels finalized a two-year, $17 million deal for utility infielder Brandon Drury. That deal stretched the Angels’ 2023 payroll commitments to about $206 million, which is a franchise record and ranks sixth in the majors. They spent around $180 million in 2022.

For purposes of the luxury tax, which is calculated differently, the Angels are at about $220 million. The first tax threshold kicks in at $233 million.

So about $13 million below, even if $5 million is held back for the trade deadline there’s enough to sign a decent arm and maybe a backup catcher.

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35 minutes ago, Revad said:

So about $13 million below, even if $5 million is held back for the trade deadline there’s enough to sign a decent arm and maybe a backup catcher.

I don't think we're signing a backup catcher. They want to save a spot for O'Hoppe. If he's not ready, they'll find a league minimum guy.

I'm curious about this Eovaldi rumor. Wondering if it's a similar situation to Contreras where they're looking for a deal and not planning on being competitive if the price is at all consistent with where the market has been. Seems to me that if they did sign him, it's doubtful they can stay below the cap.

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At this point they might go over it. 

Granted, the team as-is isn't horrible. But he says he has the go ahead to "keep going". I doubt that means "keep going but with only $10 million". I think he'll get a chance to keep improving the team as much as he can. 

But of course I don't know shit. They will always be looking to improve, doesn't mean they actually will.

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19 minutes ago, Pancake Bear said:

I don't think we're signing a backup catcher. They want to save a spot for O'Hoppe. If he's not ready, they'll find a league minimum guy.

I'm curious about this Eovaldi rumor. Wondering if it's a similar situation to Contreras where they're looking for a deal and not planning on being competitive if the price is at all consistent with where the market has been. Seems to me that if they did sign him, it's doubtful they can stay below the cap.

If they sign Eovaldi, they are assuredly going over.  No way they can get him for less than 13mil AAV per year.

If they intend to go over, I think it'd be silly to just barely go over.  The penalty for first time offenders is minimal.  If they intend to go over, might as well blow past it by a decent amount.  In that case - go ahead and sign Eovaldi and acquire Hendriks.  Both the rotation and bullpen will be significantly upgraded.

That said, I still think they probably will just stay under.

As for catcher - if they feel O'Hoppe is just about ready, then I agree.  Maybe Wallach is promoted and splits some time with Stassi until O'Hoppe is deemed ready.  I wouldn't be surprised, though, to see O'Hoppe win the position outright in spring training.

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The thing is, this is the last year the Angels have where they can stay under the luxury tax anyway. I mean if they truly intend to start winning ball games and lock up Ohtani, it might take an additional 50 million, pushing the Angels up towards 270 for luxury tax purposes. Then let's say they do end up locking up Sandoval and Detmers, guaranteed you're pushing 300 million at that point. Now granted, you'll be able to subtract 20 million or so once Stassi, Tepera and Loup are off the books, but still, the Angels will be over by quite a bit, without much hope of doing back under to reset their penalties any time soon. 

So either they go over this year, or they go over next year, either way, it's a concept they'll need to become familiar with. And let's say they lose Ohtani, ok, you're still looking at 230-ish yearly. 

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9 hours ago, Pancake Bear said:

I'm curious about this Eovaldi rumor. Wondering if it's a similar situation to Contreras where they're looking for a deal and not planning on being competitive if the price is at all consistent with where the market has been. Seems to me that if they did sign him, it's doubtful they can stay below the cap.

Considering that they apparently want to add another SP, I think their interest in Eovaldi is more serious than Contreras.

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8 hours ago, Second Base said:

The thing is, this is the last year the Angels have where they can stay under the luxury tax anyway. I mean if they truly intend to start winning ball games and lock up Ohtani, it might take an additional 50 million, pushing the Angels up towards 270 for luxury tax purposes. Then let's say they do end up locking up Sandoval and Detmers, guaranteed you're pushing 300 million at that point. Now granted, you'll be able to subtract 20 million or so once Stassi, Tepera and Loup are off the books, but still, the Angels will be over by quite a bit, without much hope of doing back under to reset their penalties any time soon. 

So either they go over this year, or they go over next year, either way, it's a concept they'll need to become familiar with. And let's say they lose Ohtani, ok, you're still looking at 230-ish yearly. 

https://www.fangraphs.com/roster-resource/payroll/angels

If you look at the 2023 projections - in theory, if they sign Ohtani to a 45mil AAV deal, and factoring in arbitration raises and minimum salary, their luxury tax estimate would probably be somewhere around 220mil.

But, that said - they would have to find an OF (to replace Renfroe), and ideally, the new owner will want to make significant upgrades.

Some fun ideas - they could, say, sign Ohtani AND Aaron Nola.  Twin aces at the top.  They could then use their pitching depth to swing a trade for a corner OF, with Ward occupying the remaining spot.  Doing that would probably run their payroll to around 250mil.  

This is why I actually think they'll aim to stay below this year.  It's not really about the tax they'll pay this year, as it'll be minimal - it is moreso to set themselves up for the next few years, in which (hopefully) the new owner will go over for 3 years straight (until Rendon's contract expires).  

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7 hours ago, Trendon said:

Considering that they apparently want to add another SP, I think their interest in Eovaldi is more serious than Contreras.

Agreed.  Although historically, with this team, it seems they end up making a move for someone in which there was no "smoke" around.  Anderson, Urshela, Drury, Renfroe .. no rumors at all of our involvement in those guys, at least that I'm aware of.  There's enough rumors around Eovaldi where I feel that it is mainly just manufactured, or moreso that we have some interest if his price drops / market doesn't pan out.

We have also been linked to Kluber, so maybe the one we will ultimately sign is Cueto, lol.  But I'd much prefer Kluber.  Signing him, though, would probably put us close to the LT limit, as I'm thinking he'll get a 1yr, 10-12mil contract.

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34 minutes ago, Warfarin said:

https://www.fangraphs.com/roster-resource/payroll/angels

If you look at the 2023 projections - in theory, if they sign Ohtani to a 45mil AAV deal, and factoring in arbitration raises and minimum salary, their luxury tax estimate would probably be somewhere around 220mil.

But, that said - they would have to find an OF (to replace Renfroe), and ideally, the new owner will want to make significant upgrades.

Some fun ideas - they could, say, sign Ohtani AND Aaron Nola.  Twin aces at the top.  They could then use their pitching depth to swing a trade for a corner OF, with Ward occupying the remaining spot.  Doing that would probably run their payroll to around 250mil.  

This is why I actually think they'll aim to stay below this year.  It's not really about the tax they'll pay this year, as it'll be minimal - it is moreso to set themselves up for the next few years, in which (hopefully) the new owner will go over for 3 years straight (until Rendon's contract expires).  

Yep this is what I’ve been saying since the off season started as it relates to signing a premier SS in free agency. If they did that you would be making the next owner pay a premium for each free agent for the first 3 or so years. 

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8 minutes ago, Stradling said:

Yep this is what I’ve been saying since the off season started as it relates to signing a premier SS in free agency. If they did that you would be making the next owner pay a premium for each free agent for the first 3 or so years. 

Keep in mind the tax numbers are compiled for for the end of season numbers (by that I mean total dollars paid out).  If they go project to go over in an attempt to win, fail and then sell off at the deadline thus reducing their overall payouts then they can get under the penalty and the new ownership can then go hard next winter.

If they make an effort to win, actually win..  They figure to break even with the added post-season revenue, at worst, they aren't being dinged AS hard.

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7 minutes ago, Inside Pitch said:

Keep in mind the tax numbers are compiled for for the end of season numbers (by that I mean total dollars paid out).  If they go project to go over in an attempt to win, fail and then sell off at the deadline thus reducing their overall payouts then they can get under the penalty and the new ownership can then go hard next winter.

If they make an effort to win, actually win..  They figure to break even with the added post-season revenue, at worst, they aren't being dinged AS hard.

Yep. I could see them adding if the team is playing well. Also if you add now and the team isn’t playing well you could see any one of Tepera, Loup, Stassi, Fletcher and even Ohtani traded.  Same would go for the one year starter if we signed Kluber. If the team doesn’t play well it isn’t like all of those players will have poor seasons. 

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16 minutes ago, Stradling said:

Yep. I could see th asem adding if the team is playing well. Also if you add now and the team isn’t playing well you could see any one of Tepera, Loup, Stassi, Fletcher and even Ohtani traded.  Same would go for the one year starter if we signed Kluber. If the team doesn’t play well it isn’t like all of those players will have poor seasons. 

Put Renfroe and Gio on that trade list

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1 hour ago, Stradling said:

Yep. I could see them adding if the team is playing well. Also if you add now and the team isn’t playing well you could see any one of Tepera, Loup, Stassi, Fletcher and even Ohtani traded.  Same would go for the one year starter if we signed Kluber. If the team doesn’t play well it isn’t like all of those players will have poor seasons. 

 

1 hour ago, Inside Pitch said:

Keep in mind the tax numbers are compiled for for the end of season numbers (by that I mean total dollars paid out).  If they go project to go over in an attempt to win, fail and then sell off at the deadline thus reducing their overall payouts then they can get under the penalty and the new ownership can then go hard next winter.

If they make an effort to win, actually win..  They figure to break even with the added post-season revenue, at worst, they aren't being dinged AS hard.

One thing to note, though, is this strategy really only works if you are just modestly above the luxury tax limit - so, say, 5-7mil maybe.

When you trade a player at the deadline, you basically offload about 33% of their luxury tax obligation for the year.  So for someone like Tepera, who has a 7mil luxury tax hit, you'd be only saving less than 2mil of luxury tax space.  Same for Loup, Fletcher, and everyone else mentioned.

So if we do go over, and are, say, 7mil over, and we are not competitive and looking to move money to get back below .. probably the only way to do this would be to trade Ohtani, or literally attempt to unload all of the guys mentioned above.  Notably, I think Stassi and Fletcher would be hard to trade, given their future salary obligations.  

I do think, if this team is not competitive, they have to trade Ohtani.  It would suck, but they'd get multiple pieces in return, and combined with significant financial space, they could conceivably spend a lot in the upcoming offseason and be a contender regardless.

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3 hours ago, Warfarin said:

Agreed.  Although historically, with this team, it seems they end up making a move for someone in which there was no "smoke" around.  Anderson, Urshela, Drury, Renfroe .. no rumors at all of our involvement in those guys, at least that I'm aware of.

Heyman reported the Angels were interested in Anderson before they signed him.

And FWIW, he’s also the one who said they have interest in Eovaldi and Kluber. So I don’t think that rumor is just manufactured.

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3 hours ago, Trendon said:

Heyman reported the Angels were interested in Anderson before they signed him.

And FWIW, he’s also the one who said they have interest in Eovaldi and Kluber. So I don’t think that rumor is just manufactured.

Urshela and Renfroe were trades, so there will usually be less smoke there. 

And just for kicks, Lion linked us to Estevez before it happened. Never saw Angels linked to Drury until it happened?

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55 minutes ago, Pancake Bear said:

Urshela and Renfroe were trades, so there will usually be less smoke there. 

And just for kicks, Lion linked us to Estevez before it happened. Never saw Angels linked to Drury until it happened?

The only “link” to Drury was that in the days ahead of the Drury signing, Matt Vasgersian kept on saying on MLB Network how great of a fit Drury was with the Angels.

Maybe he didn’t know anything, but I thought it was odd at the time how he kept pushing that fit, and then they obviously signed Drury.

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On 12/25/2022 at 2:33 PM, Trendon said:

The only “link” to Drury was that in the days ahead of the Drury signing, Matt Vasgersian kept on saying on MLB Network how great of a fit Drury was with the Angels.

Maybe he didn’t know anything, but I thought it was odd at the time how he kept pushing that fit, and then they obviously signed Drury.

I think Robert Murray said the Angels were a team to watch on his podcast for Drury. 

On 12/25/2022 at 6:23 AM, Warfarin said:

Agreed.  Although historically, with this team, it seems they end up making a move for someone in which there was no "smoke" around.  Anderson, Urshela, Drury, Renfroe .. no rumors at all of our involvement in those guys, at least that I'm aware of.  There's enough rumors around Eovaldi where I feel that it is mainly just manufactured, or moreso that we have some interest if his price drops / market doesn't pan out.

We have also been linked to Kluber, so maybe the one we will ultimately sign is Cueto, lol.  But I'd much prefer Kluber.  Signing him, though, would probably put us close to the LT limit, as I'm thinking he'll get a 1yr, 10-12mil contract.

I think part of this is also the leaks coming from the agent. They could be trying to stir interest from teams like the Rangers (division rival) or Red Sox (incumbent team, terrible offseason so far). It's telling the Heyman--the human agent mouthpiece himself--was one that expressed it. I feel pretty good about the Angels signing either Eovaldi or Kluber, but we'll see. 

As for the Lion, who knows. He mentioned Estevez weeks before they signed him. The night before the Drury signing, he went on a rant about Perry and this year being different. It's hard to fathom but it is possible he's an actual connected person having a ton of fun with this account. I think the Angels signing Eovaldi will be telling as to whether he is a real person that knows things or not. 

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On 12/23/2022 at 3:02 PM, AngelsWin.com said:

The offensive roster seems to be set with the addition of Drury, who is the second veteran utility player the Angels have added this winter. Drury and Gio Urshela can both play all four infield positions and the corner outfield spots, although Urshela is the better defensive player and Drury is the better hitter.

 

Perry has done a nice job adding MLB =/+ players this offseason. Something we haven't had with recent teams.

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