What in the world is Angels’ owner Arte Moreno thinking?
The front office executives of the Los Angeles Angels along with new general manager Billy Eppler and owner Arte Morneo have been sending mixed signals so far this offseason.
Back in December Moreno stated that the Angels were not planning to seriously engage with any of the big name free agents this offseason. At the time the Angels were just $4 million under the luxury tax threshold of $189 million. The Angels owner said then that he didn’t intend to cross that threshold.
Going over the luxury tax threshold costs a first time offending team to pay 17.5% tax, if they go over a second year the rate goes up to 30% and so on up to 50% of their total payroll for teams who go over the threshold four or more times. However, if a team is over one year and under the next then their rate is reset. If they were to go over the following year the team would start back at paying 17.5%.
The Angels desperately needed to fill the major hole they have in left field, preferably with a left-handed power bat. There were many free agent outfielders (whether left or right-handed) who could have given them a serious boost at the position, including Justin Upton, Yoenis Cespedes, Alex Gordon and Jason Heyward to name a few.
However, Moreno did say that he might be willing to go over the threshold for the “right guy.” It appears that many versions of the “right guy” were right in front of them. They had the money to spend and it would be the only time since Moreno took ownership of the team in 2003 that they would be going over the threshold with the exception of the 2005 season. Had they signed a big name free agent they would still be paying the lowest penalty.
Plus, the Angels have money coming off their payroll in 2017, the largest being the contract of C.J. Wilson who is making $20 million this season. There is also going to be a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) negotiated this winter between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association (MLBPA). Most experts expect the threshold to go up, giving the Angels another reason to believe that even if they had signed a top or second tier free agent outfielder that they would more than likely be back below the threshold in 2017.
The strange thing is that just four days ago the Angels offered free agent outfielder Austin Jackson a one-year deal that sources say was somewhere along the lines of $6-7 million dollars. Jackson, a client of the infamous agent Scott Boras, turned the offer down. He is seeking more money elsewhere.
What is confusing here is that adding another $6-7 million to their payroll would have put the Angels over the luxury tax threshold. While I wouldn’t call Jackson, who can be streaky at the plate, a bad player – he certainly doesn’t seem to be the type of player that Moreno meant back in December when he said he’d pay the luxury tax for the “right guy.”
To read the rest of this story on Arte Moreno’s confusing and odd decision making for his team you can find it on Today’s Knuckleball by following the link below: