We still don't know who the GM of the Angels will be this winter, but it is no matter to me. At least not right now. I've got plans of my own for what the Angels should do. Yes, it is time for me to play pretend and act out what I would do if Arte Moreno completely lost his mind and made me the GM of the Angels.
Though I am tempted to blow the thing up, I can't fathom willing wasting another year of Mike Trout's sublime excellence. I am, however, sick and tired of reckless spending, so there will be no nine-figure deals coming from me. No, sir, I'm going to make this roster younger and do it without significantly raising the payroll in 2014. Hopefully when it is all said and done, the lasting image of the 2014 Angels is a parade down Katella and not an ominous picture of an ill-fated press conference like the one above.
(As always, proposed trades are as fair as I can figure, but I fully realize that I don't know how much opposing teams value their players compared to how I value them.)
Cut the dead weight
First things first, the Angels need to clear some roster and salary flexibility. That means making a few tough decisions and some easy ones. The easy ones are non-tendering Tommy Hanson, J.C. Gutierrez, Chris Nelson and Kevin Jepsen. All four are coming off of terrible seasons and in no way worth the raise they will be due in arbitration.
Less easy is non-tendering Jerome Williams. You could do worse as a swing guy, but there is also no need to pay him $2 million or more. And, yes, that means keeping Blanton as the swing guy instead. I know how terrible he was, but as a long man and spot starter, he can't do that much damage. Besides, the Angels can't continue to pay guys several million bucks to not play for them.
The tough call though is letting Jason Vargas walk. He is a great fit for the team and shouldn't be prohibitively expensive, but if the Halos are going to spend that kind of money, they need to look for a bigger payoff. If that big payoff move falls through, Vargas is a nice fallback option, but nothing more.
Sign Masahiro Tanaka at all costs
This is that big payoff move. The Angel rotation is at great risk. Jered Weaver is great, but his arm has A LOT of mileage on it and it is starting to show. C.J. Wilson was excellent in 2013, but he is also 32 years old. This rotation needs to get young and talented in a hurry. Last time I checked, the farm system isn't going to help with that. That means it is time to get creative and a little bit desperate.
Tanaka is the best young arm on the market. He probably isn't on par with Yu Darvish, but reports indicate that he should be pretty good and ready to go right away. What also helps is that the Angels do have cash to spend but not luxury tax room. They can thus pony up the $30+ million in posting fee (that might be less based on if the posting system changes) and then shell out a six-year deal in the $45-55 million range to land Tanaka. From a luxury tax perspective, they are essentially swapping out Vargas' number for Tanaka and getting the benefit of all that upside.
There is bound to be intense interest in Tanaka though, so if I were GM, I would be fully prepared to spend on him like he is Yu Darvish, even if the talent isn't totally there. Sometimes you have to pay a premium for your own desperation. Seriously, if this doesn't happen, it blows up my whole plan.