The Angels may not have a GM (yet) but that doesn’t mean we can’t get ready for the start of the off-season which is coming up fast. In order to help the new guy (or gal) out, the least I could do is come up with a bit of a primer on the viable free agent and trade targets that the future general manager might want to consider to plug in the many holes the Angel roster has. The Angels may seem like they have too many first base and designated hitter types already, but each of those players carries major risks and/or flaws. That could translate to the Angels deciding to make a “big splash” by bringining in a bona fide stud to man one of those spots. But who could they realistically get?
If you are going to dream, you might as well dream big.
As a general disclaimer, I am only going to consider viable options (at least in my mind) for the Angels both in terms of them being a realistic signing or trade (sorry, no magic trades for Joe Mauer) as well as a proper roster fit. For example, Ryan Doumit won’t be appearing on this list since he is essentially a poor man’s version of Mike Napoli.
Albert Pujols – This isn’t going to happen. It just isn’t. There is NO WAY Pujols signs with the Angels. That isn’t going to stop national columnists from suggesting it though, so I guess he gets to be on this list. Obviously the Angels would love to have him, but with at most $25 million to spend this off-season, Pujols is not going to be in their budget serious roster shedding or Arte Moreno opening his wallet much further.
Prince Fielder – If the next GM is determined to make that fabled “big splash” upon his/her arrival, they are far more likely to go after the younger, slightly cheaper, much rounder Fielder. Unlike Pujols, Prince has pretty much already said his goodbyes to his old team, so signing him is going to come down to the best offer. I am on record as saying that I want to see Fielder get signed since his mere presence would change the entire dynamic of the Angel lineup. He’d finally give them that big scary bat in the middle of the order that can carry the team when small ball isn’t getting it done that they haven’t had since Vladimir Guerrero was in his prime. It is a big long-term gamble for a new GM to make, but the short-term payoff could be so substantial that it justifies the risk. Make no mistake though, Fielder wants big money for a lot of years and he is going to get it since his agent is Satan himself Scott Boras.
Carlos Pena – Pena has been linked to the Angels for so long that this has to be addressed. I don’t really like Pena much, but I undestand the appeal. He seldom ever hits for average, but he does draw a ton of walks and hit for a lot of power. He also strikes out a ton too. That isn’t really what most would consider to be a Scioscia-type player, but the new GM could force him to think differently. Pena could step in and allow Trumbo to move to DH full-time since Pena is considered to be a strong fielder (though UZR begs to differ). Carlos would also be a nice replacement for Bobby Abreu as the resident “guy who draws a ton of walks” with the added bonus that he can actually hit the ball out of the infield. If the Angels really do want him, they might have a hard time convincing him to sign since he still wants to be a full-time starter and he would most likely fall into some sort of platoon arrangement with the Halos.
Joey Votto – There were rumblings late in the season that the Reds would deal Votto, but they have since strong refuted those rumors. Even still, it is something to at least consider because where there is smoke there is usually fire, even if it is only a teeny tiny flame. Votto is a former MVP and arguably the current titleholder of the Best Player in Baseball That Casual Fans Probably Don’t Know About. What I like about Votto is that he is locked up at a not unreasonable price ($30 million over the next two seasons) through 2013, so the Angels aren’t trading for a rental player but also have plenty of time to work out both an extension and a plan to address the 1B/DH logjam. However, landing him will likely force the Angels to gut their farm system, which seems like a bad idea, even for a talent like Votto, especially when they could get a comparable player in Fielder without giving up a single prospect.
Garrett Jones – Jones is nothing special, but they have been linked to him for the last two season. Of course that could change now that Tony Reagins is gone. I hope they don’t abandon their interest in him though because Jones is a quality left-handed power bat that can play first or the corner outfield spots. The Angels are very short on power from that side of the plate and Jones’ flexibility would give them a chance to use him mostly against right-handers in a utility role of sorts. Seeing how the Halos came close to trading Jeff Mathis for Jones straight up last season, I can’t imagine the Pirates would ask for anything significant in return for Jones now, especially since he is about to hit is arbitration years.