Angels never made strong push for Zack Greinke, dropped out of bidding in early November

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At the beginning of the offseason the Angels shed Ervin Santana and Dan Haren from the payroll, seemingly to prepare to break the bank re-signing Zack Greinke. There were even articles suggesting re-signing Greinke was the entire focus of their offseason plan.

And yet the Angels dropped out of the Greinke bidding weeks before he officially signed a six-year, $147 million deal with the Dodgers and at his introductory press conference in Los Angeles yesterday Greinke revealed that the Angels never really even made a serious run at him:

I’m not mad about it, and I don’t think they’re mad about how I went about things, either. They kept in contact the whole time, but when the details came, we never really got into it much with them.

Greinke’s agent, Casey Close, revealed that the Angels essentially ceased trying to re-sign Greinke “in early November.” They traded for Tommy Hanson on November 30 and signed Joe Blanton on December 5.

All of which suggests that either the Angels never really expected to re-sign Greinke in the first place or dramatically under-estimated what sort of offers he’d get from other teams as a free agent. Either way, they ended up losing Greinke, Haren, and Santana while adding Blanton and Hanson to the rotation.

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.