The Angels "are not limited financially in any way"

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You know who is going to be a big free agent player? The Los Angeles Angels are going to be a big free agent player.  Why? Because they don’t care if they lose money or not. Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles:

According to a baseball source, the Angels expect to lose about $10
million this season. So will Moreno go deeper into his pocket to get
[Carl] Crawford? Or will the Angels try to shed payroll to accommodate that
contract?

Well, just about every team in baseball that’s losing money (or that at least says it’s losing money) would say it’s time for austerity. Not the Angels. Here, quoted by Saxon, is Angels GM Tony Reagins:

“You always have to take account of how the finances work, but we’re not
limited financially in any way. Whatever we need to do that makes sense
and that’s reasonable, we’ll address.”

I’m reminded of my man Charlie Kane when told that he was losing a million dollars a year in late 19th century money:

“You’re right, I did lose a million dollars last year. I expect to lose a
million dollars this year. I expect to lose a million dollars next
year. You know, Mr. Thatcher, at the rate of a million dollars a year,
I’ll have to close this place in . . . 60 years.

That’s pretty much Arte Moreno’s m.o., it would seem. No, not fomenting wars with Cuba and forcing his wife to do jigsaw puzzles in front of a comically over-sized fireplace, but in keeping year-to-year losses in perspective while realizing that overall value is where it’s at.

I don’t know how much the Angels are really losing, but let’s say it’s $10 million.  Given Moreno’s investments in marketing and the ballpark and the payroll and everything else, how much more are the Angels worth today than when he bought the team a few years ago?  I’m betting quite a bit. Certainly enough to absorb a $10 million loss. And certainly enough to afford Carl Crawford.

Athletics trade Billy Burns to the Royals for Brett Eibner

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 13: Billy Burns #1 of the Oakland Athletics waits on deck to bat during the fourth inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 13, 2016 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
Brian Blanco/Getty Images
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The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.

Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.

Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.

Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.

Nationals acquire closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 20:  Mark Melancon #35 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches during the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies on May 20, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Joe Sargent/Getty Images
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The Nationals announced on Saturday afternoon that the club acquired closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates in exchange for reliever Felipe Rivero and minor league pitcher Taylor Hearn.

Melancon, 31, put together another solid season for the Pirates, leaving the club with 30 saves, a 1.51 ERA, and a 38/9 K/BB ratio in 41 2/3 innings. He led the majors last season with 51 saves and has a 1.80 ERA since joining the Pirates in 2013. Melancon is earning $9.65 million this season and can become eligible for free agency after the season.

With Melancon out of the picture, the Pirates intend to have Tony Watson take over the closer’s role.

Rivero, 25, has handled the seventh and eighth innings for the Nationals this season, compiling a 4.53 ERA and a 53/15 K/BB ratio in 49 2/3 innings. He’s just shy of one year of service time, so the Pirates will have control of him for a long time.

Hearn, 21, was rated the Nationals’ 27th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline. He was originally drafted by the Pirates in the 22nd round of the 2012 draft but he didn’t sign and ended up going back to college. The Nationals took him in the fifth round of last year’s draft. This season, between rookie ball and Single-A Hagerstown, Hearn put up a 2.79 ERA and a 39/13 K/BB ratio in 29 innings. He’s a long way away from the majors, so he’s essentially a lottery ticket for the Pirates.

The Nationals needed an upgrade at closer as Jonathan Papelbon has struggled this season. The right-hander has allowed runs in each of his last three appearances, ballooning his ERA up to 4.41 with a 30/13 K/BB ratio in 32 2/3 innings. It will be interesting to see how Papelbon, who has never made a habit of letting his feelings go unspoken, handles a demotion to the eighth inning.