Eppler’s Domain: Winter Meetings, Rule 5, Luxury Tax

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The Angels went into this week’s Winter Meetings with a plan for adding depth at second base, a fourth outfielder, and pitching. Catcher was also a position that was up in the air. General Manager Billy Eppler dove into conversations with opposing GM’s, laying the groundwork for several moves.

No official deals were made, but that’s in part because he wasn’t going after the big blockbuster transactions. He was looking for depth, which is often acquired in January.

Eppler also stated that he’s looking into making moves that would not only add depth, but enough to have a possible overload at one position, thus leading to bigger moves. It’s a fun strategy where a team can upgrade using Major League pieces of they don’t have three or four prospects to make the big deal. Eppler appears to be getting very creative in his approach this offseason.

The only question now is when these moves will be made.

 

More From The GM’s Office

  • The Padres are deep at second base, and the Angels have been calling. There’s a couple of real intriguing options here, with a couple of meh players that would only help a Major League bench or AAA roster. It’s worth taking a closer look at and comparing what the club would be getting. So here they are…
  • Yangervis Solarte is the most established player of the three. He had a productive 2016 season, slashing .286/.341/.467 with 15 homers and a 116 OPS+. Although the youngster was a third baseman, he does have experience at second base. Some have been worried about his defense, but there’s nothing in his stat sheet to indicate that he’d be terrible on the field. Halos also need more power, and having that at both the number four position in the infield — as well as the bottom half of the batting order — would be a major boost. Especially because Solarte is a switch-hitter, and those numbers came from Petco, which is a less hitter-friendly park than even the Big A…
  • Ryan Schimpf is quite the mystery here. He batted just .217 this past season. But at the same time he slugged an enormous .533 against that average because of 20 homers in just 330 plate appearances, factoring into a 1.8 WAR in half a season. He also bats left and is steady with the glove.
  • Cory Spangenberg is another lefty second baseman with the most experience, but not a particularly flashy track record. 2015 was the only season with a large sample size, where he slashed .271/.333/.399 with no power or speed. Not real excited about this one.
  • Carlos Asuaje was at Triple-A El Paso most of the year, and batting .321/.378/.473 and made his debut with the Friars. Hit left as well, but pass.

 

  •  Wong isn’t a player the Angels should really go after. But it was good of Eppler to at least perform some due diligence in his search for a second baseman. The Cardinals do have the position filled pretty well already with Jedd Gyorko, but they could use the depth themselves.

 

  • This makes sense for the reasons listed, but not so much as an everyday, 150 game option the the position. What I can see Eppler doing is signing Chase, and still acquiring one of those young guys like Solarte from the Padres and turn Utley into an insurance policy. He’s going to run out of gas some time soon, and it would be wise to make that additional deal… IF this even happens.

 

  • The Twins were the team the Angels traded Justin Haley. Turns out that the original announcement had Haley going to the Padres, but the Friars also landed the first overall Rule 5 pick Miguel Diaz from the Twins, so it turned into sort of a three-team deal.
  • As for Angels players plucked away in the draft, the Angels lost some minor leaguers of their own. Said players were right-hander Anthony Bamboo (Rockies), right-hander Harrison Cooney (Red Sox), outfielder Cal Towey (Marlins), and second baseman Alex Yarbrough (Marlins).
  • So much for no one wanting Halos prospects. Seems they do. Just not for a Chris Sale. Although there have been Angels prospects recently with better numbers than high-rated prospects. Or vastly over-valued prospects, like in the recent Jose Quintana proposal from the Astros. But that’s another story for a later time.

  • Just to give an idea of what kind of fourth outfielder and pitching the Angels are looking for, it’s strictly depth options they want to stockpile. Eppler and his staff want to make sure they’ve got things covered should more injuries and aggravating previous injuries occur.
  • Coco Crisp was in the World Series with the Indians and hit .333 after an okay season where he hit .231/.302/.397 with 13 homeruns and 10 stolen bases. The club is looking at Cameron Maybin as their everyday left fielder but Crisp would provide a good insurance policy, and would definitely add some pop and the speed the team needs to continue returning to.
  • Bud Norris would serve as a back-end of the rotation and multi-innings relief option, along with Jessie Chavez. The point being that the Halos still have health questions atop their rotation, so some arms will be needed for mop-up duty if needed. It’s a good strategy to bridge the gap between rotation and closing. Just needs to happen.

 

One Last Thing…

  • That $195 at the beginning of the CBA starts in 2017. What that means is the Angels (in theory) have an additional $6 million dollars to play with this offseason. That could be a good reliever, or perhaps even just a cushion to offset raises in arbitration. And with it going up every year for five years, that gives the Halos more breathing room, especially with the amount of money coming off the books.