What’s next for the Angels?

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So, the Halos added a bit to their payroll today, committing $250 million to Albert Pujols and another $77.5 million to C.J. Wilson. Not clear at the moment is whether is they’ll have to make some tough choices to squeeze both in. After acquiring Vernon Wells, the Angels opened last year with a $141 million payroll, up from $121 million in 2010.

As for the 2012 payroll, the Angels opened today with $106 million committed to 11 players. Pujols and Wilson would add another $40 million to that if their salaries are constant throughout their contracts, but there’s a good chance those deals are backloaded somewhat. So, let’s instead say $32 million, bringing the total to $138 million.

The Angels have five players eligible for arbitration: Erick Aybar, Howie Kendrick, Alberto Callaspo, Kendrys Morales and Jerome Williams. Those five should combine to make $17 million-$18 million in 2012, upping the Angels’ payroll to $155 million. Throw in another seven players making barely more than that minimum and that brings the total to $159 million for 2012. Which doesn’t seem like a completely unmanageable total for Arte Moreno. Still, the Angels could scale it back to $145 million-$150 million with a few moves. Such as…

– Non-tendering Morales – This looks like the obvious one. Morales missed most of 2010 and all of last season with a broken ankle, and while there’s some hope he’ll be ready for 2012, there’s no guarantee at all. Also, he happens to play the same position as Pujols. Non-tendering him would shave about $3 million off the payroll.

– Trading Ervin Santana – Teams were calling the Angels about Santana in anticipation of a Wilson signing. He’ll make $11.2 million next year, so he’s the one who would have to go if the Angels want to get back to a $140 million payroll. However, the whole point of signing Wilson was to give the Halos four great starters and the team still lacks starting pitching depth in a big way. I think he stays put.

– Trading Maicer Izturis – Izturis is a nice player, but at $3.8 million, he makes for an awfully expensive utilityman. The Angels could slide Alexi Amarista into his spot next year and save $3.3 million. With so many teams looking for an experienced backup shortstop, they might even get a pretty good prospect in return.

The Angels also have the option of trading Rookie of the Year runner-up Mark Trumbo, but since he’s making the minimum, that wouldn’t do anything for the payroll. If someone offers a quality reliever or a young starter for him, the Angels will surely listen. However, it looks like they intend to keep him as a part-time third baseman/outfielder/DH.

Dodgers acquire Matt Kemp in five-player trade with Braves

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The Dodgers have pulled off their first blockbuster trade of the offseason, sending Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir, Charlie Culberson, Adrian Gonzalez and cash considerations to the Braves for Matt Kemp, per announcements from both teams. The Braves are set to designate Gonzalez for assignment on Monday, making him a free agent.

Kemp, 33, had a down year with the Braves in 2017, hitting a career-low -0.5 fWAR in 115 games with the club. At the plate, he slashed a modest .276/.318/.463 with 19 home runs and a .781 OPS through 467 plate appearances, but was hampered by a nagging left hamstring strain through most of the season. This will be his 10th campaign with the Dodgers.

Whether or not Kemp can rebound during his second stint in Los Angeles is almost beside the point, however. The deal is effectively a salary dump to end all salary dumps. Offloading multiple one-year contracts for McCarthy, Kazmir and Gonzalez should bring the Dodgers back under the $197 million luxury tax threshold and position them to make a run at some of the big fish in next year’s free agent pool. It’s also worth noting that they may not keep Kemp around for long — per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, the club appears as likely to flip the veteran outfielder as they are to use him. As for the Braves, they not only rid themselves of the $43 million due Kemp through 2020, but added some rotation and infield depth with McCarthy and Culberson and can now give top prospect Ronald Acuna a legitimate tryout in left field.