Last year, the Angels went into the Winter Meetings telling everyone who would listen that they didn’t have any money, and couldn’t make a big investment. The left the Winter Meetings with both Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson.
So, I guess we shouldn’t have listened again this year when, after missing out on Zack Greinke – with reports saying they weren’t seriously in the race given the price – the Angels cried poor, and suggested they wouldn’t be involved in any big names on the free agent market.
Because now, multiple reports say they are close to signing the top positional player on the free agent market, Josh Hamilton – a guy to whom they haven’t even remotely been attached all Winter.
(UPDATE: Multiple reports (example) say this is happening, and Hamilton is going to get five years.)
(UPDATE 2: It’s done, and it’s reportedly for five years and $25 million per year. Holy crap that’s a huge amount given his unique issues (but obviously unique talent).)
If the deal goes through, the implications here are so wide-ranging that it’s hard to track them all down immediately …
(1.) The Hamilton signing, itself, will push the outfield free agent market along. A lot of guys are waiting until he’s off the board to seriously entertain the decision-making process. Now, with Hamilton going to a team that “wasn’t looking for an outfielder,” the Michael Bourn/Nick Swisher/Cody Ross types have to be pretty happy. The Rangers may have to swoop in on one of those three, with the Indians, Mariners, Phillies, and Orioles fighting over the remainder (among other teams). This makes it slightly less likely that any of the better free agent outfielders will find themselves without a home, and fall into the Cubs’ lap.
(2.) Does this make Alfonso Soriano’s trade market a little better? You could make that argument, given the above, but you’ve got to consider that the Angels might put one of their surplus outfielders on the market now (they’re already shopping Vernon Wells, who’s got an ugly contract, but, unlike Soriano, doesn’t have any production to match it). Peter Bourjos? Mark Trumbo? The Cubs would definitely be interested in either one, but so would a dozen other teams.
(3.) The Angels could instead try to move Trumbo back to third base, allowing them to shop, for example, Alberto Callaspo, who might have a lot of value given the third base market.
(4.) Maybe the Rangers now, aside from losing out on their free agent targets this year, will feel compelled to upgrade significantly. Can the Cubs help? Well, I don’t really see a Soriano fit there unless he loosens up on his geographic restrictions, and I still don’t think Matt Garza yields fair value until the Spring. But it’s interesting.
(5.) Related to 1 and 2, above, this could slightly increase David DeJesus’s trade value by reducing the free agent outfield pool with respect to teams that were expected to be seeking an outfielder.