August 28, 2014

Angels should trade for Colon to save Arte Moreno from himself

Mike DiGiovanna at the LA Times says that that the L.A. Angels don't want to trade withj the Mets for Bartolo Colon  because it will push them too close to the lux tax limit next year, and, as a sidebar, could prevent them from chasing a top-tier free agent.

Welll, on Colon alone, wrong; on Colon preventing the latter, maybe that's good.

First, the Colon alone situation Looking at Cots Contracts for the basics of 2015 Angel overhead, here we go.

The Angels have $123M committed next year. Colon would make it 134. Huston Street's option goes to $141M. There's what, $12M or so that each team owes MLB for pensions, etc. annually, that counts toward the lux tax? (I'm not exactly sure what the 2014 number is, but it was just under $11M for 2013.) That's $153M now. David Freese on his final arbitration year? We'll say that's at $6M for $159M on our count. Other arb cases, by my math, come in at $17M, on a rough guess, for $176M. Let me add $4M, or a bit over 2 percent, to take that up to $180M.

Others? Jason Grilli and Joe Thatcher are gone, if necessary. Even with minor league call-ups, the Angels are below $189M for next year. Other small free agents, like John McDonald, also will be let go.

Plus, if any MLB player is traded for Colon, his pay comes off that total, remember.

It would be tight, yes, but very doable.

Second, as for Colon instead of another free agent, or Colon being too old, or whatever?

First, Colon's age.

Sure, a younger pitcher would be nice, yes. That said, Colon's not bad. If he has 1.7 WAR for next year, going on 1 WAR = $6.5M, he's exactly earned his keep. And, is that unrealistic? No. Especially given that the Angels don't have an idea yet on Garrett Richards' 2015 time frame, Colon could be desirable well into next season.

It's true that DiGiovanna says "push right up against," not over, but notes in the next clause that Arte doesn't want to go over. That's why, with my math, there's some flexibility.

Now, let's look at Moreno hunting great white shark free agents next year.

In starting pitching, there's aces Jon Lester and Max Scherzer, then a step down to James Shields. Especially for just the one year at $11M, I'll argue that, from looking at the 2015 free agent list, Colon is better than a lot of the dog's breath out there.

And, even without Colon in 2015, Scherzer or Lester pushes Arte over the lux tax right there. Even a James Shields is going to push you over, in all likelihood. And, all three, given Moreno's track record, are "magnets" for him to overpay.


If he's going to pursue a B-level pitcher, why not just sign Colon now? Angels fans should see the logic in it, and encourage Jerry DiPoto to push a Colon trade to save Arte from himself.

After that, Moreno and DiPoto can chase David Price in 2016, go over the lux tax for a year, then get back below the next year.

And, Mike DiGiovanna? Per my original blog post, you were bloviating. If yours was a straight news story, you didn't crunch numbers enough. If it was a column, you didn't mention Moreno's past overspending history.

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Besides that, 2015 is next year. Per many analysts, the Angels could use, really use, Colon now. He'd give them better odds of staying ahead of the A's and winning the division rather than a wild card. He'd also give them better odds of winning more games in the playoffs.

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