New General Manager Jerry Dipoto has an interesting task on his hands this offseason. The Angels have multiple needs that they need to address, but not a lot of money to address them with. Arte Moreno is rumored to want to keep the payroll around $140 million this year and the team already has approximately $100 million tied up in nine players on the current roster. An additional $20 million is expected to go to arbitration-eligible players. That leaves Dipoto $20 million dollars to throw at free-agents, which is unlikely to attract any of the big fish on the market like Jose Reyes and Prince Fielder. If the new GM plans to make a splash this offseason he is going to have to do it on the trade market, not in free-agency.
That being said Dipoto can still make some excellent additions to the Angels roster. He is most likely going to be targeting back of the rotation starters, relief pitchers, and hopefully a catcher. Here are the players I believe the Angels need to be devoting most of their resources to on the free-agent market.
5. Ramon Hernandez
You know it is a pretty weak market for catchers when he is the best available, but he could be a very good fit for the Angels. He is veteran presence and could serve as a mentor for Hank Conger, who is not yet ready to be an everyday player. Both catchers could form a very effective platoon for Mike Scioscia at the bottom of the batting order.
4. George Sherrill
The Angels need right handed relief and Sherrill would be a nice addition. He is coming off of a very solid year with the Braves in which he posted a 3.00 ERA. The former All-Star could also be used as a closer on nights that Jordan Walden is unavailable.
3. Erik Bedard
Bedard is certainly an injury risk, but for the amount of money that he is likely to cost and the upside he possesses, he is a risk worth taking. Bedard may not return to the 2007 form that saw him finish fifth for the Cy Young, but this year he showed definite signs of a comeback. He averaged 8.7 strikeouts per nine innings last year, which put him in the top-fifteen in the majors for this category. He also topped over 125 innings for the first time since 2007.
2. Takashi Saito
Of all the relievers on the market Saito should be at the top of Jerry Dipoto’s list. He may be old (he’s 41), but he has never posted an ERA above 2.83. Looking at Saito’s statistics he is one of the most consistent relievers in the majors and should put up the same numbers next season. Any reliever who can be counted on to perform night after night in the seventh or eighth inning needs to be signed immediately.
1. Hiroki Kuroda
In his four year stint with the Dodgers Kuroda has consistently improved. Each year Kuroda has seen his ERA drop and his wins increase. This is a clear indication that his next season may be his best. Placing him at the back of the rotation behind Weaver, Haren, and Santana would improve an already solid arsenal of starting pitchers and make the Angels a very formidable opponent in the AL West.
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