Dodgers, Angels take different tacks
The Los Angeles Dodgers intend to add two starting pitchers, and they’re talking about all of the biggest names.
The Los Angeles Angels already have added two starters — right-handers Tommy Hanson and Joe Blanton — and neither is likely to excite their fans.
The difference in the L.A. teams, at this early stage of the offseason, is stunning.
Most in the industry consider the Dodgers to be the front-runners for free-agent right-hander Zack Greinke, who ended last season with the Angels.
The Dodgers, sources say, also could add arguably the second-most attractive free-agent pitcher, righty Anibal Sanchez, in a dual investment that could approach $250 million.
At the moment, the Dodgers also are negotiating with another starter, Korean lefty Ryu Hyun-Jin. The deadline to sign him is Sunday. If the Dodgers fail to complete a deal, they will not pay a $25.7 million posting fee to his Korean team.
That would be $25.7 million more for the Dodgers to redirect to free-agent starters, or perhaps an expensive pitcher whom they might acquire in a trade.
The Dodgers, sources say, have talked to the New York Mets about NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey, who is under contract for a club-friendly $5 million next season.
They also have spoken to Tampa Bay about the Rays’ starting pitchers at both the general managers’ meetings last month and the winter meetings this week.
Oh, the Dodgers are going to do something as they continue to negotiate their massive new local television contract — and probably two things, both of them big.
At least right now, The Big A does not appear to stand for ambition.
The Angels used their own local TV deal to become the darlings of the winter meetings last offseason, signing free-agent first baseman Albert Pujols and left-hander C.J. Wilson for a combined $317.5 million.
Then they missed the postseason for the third straight season, and experienced a decline in home attendance for the second year in a row.
Apparently, owner Arte Moreno is in no mood to authorize another spending spree.
The Angels are not exactly a west-coast version of the suddenly budget-conscious New York Yankees. But they sure don’t look like they’re preparing to retain Greinke or make any other dramatic move.
Losing Greinke would be acceptable if the Angels were willing to sign two other free-agent pitchers — say, Sanchez and right-hander Kyle Lohse — for roughly the same amount that Greinke will get, or less.
But thus far, all the team has done is trade for Hanson, a pitcher who many scouts believe is a breakdown candidate, and Blanton, a pitcher who had a 4.71 ERA in the National League last season and will be pitching in the AL for the first time since 2008.
It’s easy to like what Angels general manager Jerry DiPoto has done with his bullpen, adding low-cost free agents Ryan Madson and Sean Burnett to a late-inning mix that already includes Ernesto Frieri, Scott Downs and Kevin Jepsen.
The rotation, though, looks much more problematic.
The Angels began their offseason by trading righty Ervin Santana to Kansas City and declining their $15.5 million option on righty Dan Haren. Those moves were entirely reasonable — provided the team found better replacements.
To this point, that hasn’t happened. Right-hander Jered Weaver and Wilson are fine as the 1-2 starters. But righty Garrett Richards, Blanton and Hanson? Each might be no better than a No. 5.
Add Greinke or Sanchez — or even Lohse or Edwin Jackson — and the rotation begins to show more promise. But to do that, Moreno must spend, and that does not seem to be his inclination.
Toward the end of last season, Moreno said of free-agent outfielder Torii Hunter, “If we don’t figure out a way to re-sign him, we’re going to get hung, aren’t we?”
The Angels then declined to make Hunter a $13.3 million qualifying offer, forfeiting their right to draft-pick compensation. So, when Hunter signed a two-year, $26 million deal with Detroit, they didn’t get a pick.
Hunter might have taken the qualifying offer, but so what? The Angels would have had him on a one-year deal at market value. Good player. Great clubhouse guy. Gone.
It’s early. The Angels still might come out of this. For all anyone knows, they’re quietly lurking on Greinke, or planning to get a quality starter or two in some other way.
No one expects them to be the Dodgers, not for two straight offseasons. But something a little bit closer to the Angels of a year ago would be appropriate.
Retrenching makes little sense.