With the World Series on the verge of beginning, that means we are mere days away from the free agency market opening for business and the Angels sure have themselves some business to get done if they want to end their playoff drought. To prep you for the ensuing craziness, we're previewing how the market could unfold for the Halos, position-by-position.
Up next, we look at the corner infield options. And by corner infield, I really just mean third base because the last thing the Halos need is another first baseman.
Who we got?
Nobody likes him, but Alberto Callaspo is the Angels' starting third baseman until further notice. As unsexy as he is, he does give the Angels a quality defensive player who occasionally is competent with the bat. That isn't enough for 99% of Angels fans desperately wanting an upgrade over him, but it is good enough to rate him as a little above league average (according to his 2.7 fWAR) at a position that is suffering a league-wide talent drought. The only thing that might cause the Angels to part way with Callaspo is if they balk at the estimated million raise he's set to earn in his final year of arbitration.
Part of the reason Beto seems like a sure bet to remain in Angel Red is the lack of alternative available to the Halos. Maicer Izturis is likely to leave via free agency and Andrew Romine rates as nothing more than a reserve. In the minors, Kaleb Cowart is highly-regarded but still years away. That leaves only Luis Jimenez as a possible challenger for playing time, but the free-swinging Lucho doesn't have the profile that GM Jerry Dipoto seems to prefer.
So, like I said. Callaspo ain't going nowhere.
Who we want?
Just because the Halos are stuck with Alberto doesn't mean we all can't dream of potential replacements. One such option, according to reckless speculators everywhere, is Alex Rodriguez who could get salary dumped this off-season and the Angels are seen as a potential landing spot, though he may not even be a significant upgrade anymore given his age and injury issues.
The real trade target everyone should be lusting for is Chase Headley. Alas, he probably isn't available. The Padres have new owners and seem intent on ending their never-ending rebuilding phase and building around Headley, though one supposes a Godfather offer could pry him loose. Too bad the Angels blew their wad on renting Zack Greinke.
That really just leaves free agency where the best available option, assuming his option is declined, is Kevin Youkilis. He is still has strong on-base skills, but his health, defense and ability to make consistent contact appear to have eroded significantly. However, as the only real starting caliber option on the market, Dipoto could kick the tires on Youk. After that, all that's left is several uninspiring back-up types, though the Angels might pick up one of them as an insurance policy behind Callaspo. Perhaps someone like Eric Chavez who could at least be considered as a platoon partner of sorts?
Why we care?
It didn't always feel like it, but the Halo lineup was very productive last season. Still, there is room for improvement. Alas, the only actual lineup spot that isn't already filled by a highly productive player and/or one with a long-term contract is the third base spot. So, while Callaspo might have some utility, it will always be underappreciated because of how replaceable he appears to be. The Angels will be more than fine with him returning to a starting role, but if they can find someone who is a guaranteed improvement, they'd be smart to pursue it. They'd be just as smart to stick with him for another year but with a viable back-up slotted right behind, you know, just in case.