On Thursday, the Los Angeles Angels introduced new manager Joe Maddon, their first big offseason pickup. , which is a fun soundbite.
During Thursday's press conference Angels owner Arte Moreno made an announcement that should not fly under the radar. Moreno confirmed payroll will indeed go up next season. From Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Times:
"Payroll will go up next year," Moreno said. "I'm not going to say how much."
Moreno didn't say what inspired the increase in payroll, besides alluding to the team's revenues and expenses allowing it.
Moreno added that: "Our target is to win another World Series. We need to get back on the winning train. The last few years have been tough."
The Angels had the ninth highest payroll in baseball this past season at $160.3 million, down from $173.7 million in 2018. They spent $24.85 million on free agents Justin Bour, Trevor Cahill, Matt Harvey and Jonathan Lucroy last offseason, and received minus-2.2 WAR in return. Ouch.
The good news? Those were all one-year contracts that come off the books this winter (assuming Bour is non-tendered). Here is the Angels' current 2020 payroll situation:
- Guaranteed contracts (5 players): $115.3 million (per Cot's Baseball Contracts)
- Arbitration-eligible players (11 players): $24.1 million (per MLB Trade Rumors, not counting Bour)
- Miscellaneous: $24 million (estimate for pre-arbitration players, remaining 40-man roster, player benefits)
That adds up to $163.4 million, just above the team's 2020 payroll. The Angels have several non-tender candidates other than Bour, however, plus Zack Cozart ($12.7 million) and Andrelton Simmons ($15 million) will drop off the books next year. Albert Pujols' huge contract expires in two years. There is some payroll relief coming in the near future. (Re-signing Simmons figures to be a priority.)
Pitching will be the priority this winter, even with Shohei Ohtani tentatively scheduled to return to the mound next year. Gerrit Cole, who grew up in Orange County, is the top free agent starter and it is widely believed the Angels will make a run at him. Will they outbid the Dodgers, Yankees or any other big market team that gets involved? Unclear. But they'll try to sign him.
The 2020 luxury tax threshold is $208 million. Even if the Angels come in under that at, say, $190 million, it would represent a significant payroll hike and put the team in better position to contend next year. As long as that money is put to better use than it was with Bour, Cahill, Harvey and Lucroy last year, that is.
The Angels went 72-90 in 2019, their worst season since going 70-92 two decades ago in 1999. The Halos have missed the postseason each of the last five years and they've only played three postseason games (all losses in the 2014 ALDS) during the Mike Trout era.