Jerry Dipoto, Arte Moreno

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.

Report: Cardinals are scouting Cuban outfielder Luis Robert

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 25: Baseballs sit in the St. Louis Cardinals dugout prior to a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on April 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by David Welker/Getty Images)
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According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.

There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.

Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.

Cubs extend Pedro Strop through 2018

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 25:  Pedro Strop #46 of the Chicago Cubs reacts during the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game One of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reported over the weekend that the Cubs and reliever Pedro Strop agreed to a contract extension. He’ll remain with the Cubs through 2018 and the new deal includes a club option for the 2019 season as well. Per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, Strop will earn $5.85 million in 2018 and the club option is worth $6.25 million with a $500,000 buyout. The two sides already avoided arbitration earlier this month, agreeing on a $5.5 million salary for the 2017 season.

Strop, 31, has been a very reliable reliever for the Cubs over the last three years. He has a combined 2.65 ERA with 212 strikeouts and 69 walks over 176 1/3 innings in that span of time.

The Cubs replaced Aroldis Chapman with Wade Davis, so Strop and Hector Rondon will be bridging the gap to Davis this coming season.

Strop joined the Cubs along with Jake Arrieta in the July 2013 trade that sent Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman to the Orioles. That trade panned out well for the Cubs.