Making sense of Angels' pitching deals

December 8, 2012

It’s difficult to like what the Los Angeles Angels have done this offseason, particularly when they seem likely to lose free-agent right-hander Zack Greinke.

I wrote recently about the different approaches of the two L.A. teams. But the Angels’ starting-pitching choices may not be as illogical as they appear.

I’m not saying I like them, mind you — right-hander Tommy Hanson is a physical risk, righty Joe Blanton might get smoked in the AL, and losing Greinke just plain hurts.

The other perspective, though, is this: Hanson, 26, and Blanton, 32, produced approximately the same performance last season as the two starters they will be replacing, righties Dan Haren, 32, and Ervin Santana, 30. And they will cost the Angels a lot less.


Consider the comparison from 2012 in the chart to the right.

Now consider the finances:

Haren and Santana would have earned a combined $28.5 million next season if the team had exercised their club options.

Hanson and Blanton likely will earn a combined $10 million to $11 million; Hanson figures to make about $4 million in arbitration, and Blanton signed a two-year, $15 million free-agent contract with a club option/buyout for a third year.

The difference more than helped the Angels pay for two free-agent relievers; righty Ryan Madson, who signed a one-year, $3.5 million contract, and lefty Sean Burnett, who signed a two-year, $8 million deal.

So, going strictly by the numbers — the performance numbers, the salary numbers — the Angels may come out ahead. They also could sign another free-agent starter, though at the moment they don’t seem inclined to play in the Anibal Sanchez-Kyle Lohse-Edwin Jackson market.

In the end, all that matters is results. And the Angels, after missing the playoffs three straight seasons, are banking on two pitchers with questions, Hanson and Blanton.