It cost the Angels two players that were rather popular with fans but Jerry Dipoto has finally dug the Angels out of their hole. He started the offseason making moves out of necessity. He had to acquire two starting pitchers. He had to create some payroll flexibility. But now Dipoto has those things and can finally start making the moves he wants to make.
That's great and all, but what does he want to do? Well, I'm glad you asked.
What Jerry has said he wants to do is add another starting pitcher, find cheap left-handed help at DH and preferably keep Howie Kendrick in the process. Granted, Dipoto isn't always a fountain of truth, but what he says jives with a basic survey of the Angels' needs. Now, what we don't know is how exactly Dipoto is going to go about satisfying his professed desires.
The search for pitching has some obvious targets. If Dipoto is really going to pee in his own lemonade by sending Skaggs or Santiago to the bullpen or minors, he better have a pretty damned good reason to do it. There are only two pitchers on the market who would justify that choice: Matt Garza and Masahiro Tanaka. With about $19 million of wiggle room under the luxury tax, the Angels have enough money to sign Matt Garza, or at least they should. Bidding on Garza hasn't gotten serious yet so his pricetag isn't all that clear. Supposedly Garza is hoping to get Zack Greinke money, but most experts predicts he'll get a more modest five-year, $80 million deal. The Halos will have to get to come in on the lower half of that range fi they are going to be able to afford him and still have money left over to address the vacancy at DH. If not, then the Halos are doomed to a season of J.B. Shuck and Grant Green sharing the the DH job. I think we all know how I feel about J.B. Shuck.
They are in a similar boat with Tanaka, though it is not expected that his salary won't get quite as high. Then again, there is expected to be a huge bidding war for his rights, so who really knows. When the Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, Cubs, Mariners and Dodgers are all involved, the possibility for someone going crazy in an overbid is a constant threat.
If the Angels can't land either of those two the, welp, they are kind of out of luck. They have been adamant about their refusal to surrender their first round pick, so they aren't going to pursue Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana. The alternative would be to greatly lower their expectations and add a lower end pitcher to compete with Skaggs and Santiago but one that would be OK with working in relief should they lose said competition. Chris Capuano, Freddy Garcia, Tommy Hanson (memba' him?), Roberto Hernandez and Edinson Volquez would all be candidates for that role. I can see you choking back the vomit from here.
Should Dipoto have to go slumming for his sixth starter, that would free up money to use to replace Mark Trumbo at DH. That's a scenario that isn't nearly as sexy as it sounds. It turns out that all the really useful bats that don't cost a draft pick are already spoken for. The best they can do with that restriction is either Corey Hart or Juan Uribe. Please, try and contain your excitement. Hart might actually be quite good, but he is coming off a season where he did not play due to knee problems. That will scare some teams off, but he should still earn enough to put a dent in the Angels' budget.
Since those options are so very uninspiring, the Halos best hope Dipoto can land Garza or Tanaka, that way they can instead just pick up some cheap bats rather spending money just to spend money on hitters who could completely tank. Early word is that this is 100% the Angels' plan. They want someone cheap, with some pop who is left-handed. The problem is that they may have to max out their bidding at $4 million and that they probably only want to give out a one-year deal since they'll have more money to spend next offseason (hey there, Josh Willingham) and at least the possibility that C.J. Cron could be part of the solution by then. Another consideration is that the DH they sign should probably be capable of playing first base so that Albert Pujols can get regular days off his aging legs. Given those criteria, the most likely candidates are Raul Ibanez, Eric Chavez, Travis Hafner, Luke Scott, Wilson Betemit and Jason Kubel.
While I understand the Angels wanting a lefty for lineup balance, one would have to think they'd at least consider signing a right-handed bat to platoon with their lefty. They may not have the roster space and money to do that, but it is hard to imagine Grant Green being the right-handed complement to an Ibanez-type. Should they try and find a righty bat Mike Morse, Kevin Youkilis and Jeff Baker. None of these DH options are going to make anyone forget Mark Trumbo, but with a proper platoon, they could replace a good chunk of his production.
If Dipoto wants to get a bit more creative, he could return to the trade market he is suddenly so fond of. The big upside bat for them to pursue there would be Logan Morrison. The Marlins apparently want a third baseman for him, so maybe a swap of Grant Green is possible now that it looks like he won't be needed to replace Howie Kendrick. Outside of that, there doesn't appear to be much out there for the Halos to go after because of that whole not having a good farm system thing.
One thing you can expect though is for Jerry Dipoto to make his moves quickly. As he has shown again this winter, he isn't much one for waiting around. It wouldn't be the least bit surprising if the has this whole thing wrapped up by the end of the week.