UPDATE: Williams’ agent has clarified his comments, saying that his client would be happy to accept any role the Angels give him, but feels confident that he would have appeal as a starting pitcher if he is non-tendered and hits free agency.
1:55 p.m ET: Monday is the deadline for teams to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players on their 40-man rosters. And Angels right-hander Jerome Williams is one player who hopes to get a chance to test the open market. Or at least that’s what his agent is saying.
Williams, who turns 32 next week, had a 4.57 ERA and 107/55 K/BB ratio in 169 1/3 innings over 25 starts and 12 relief appearances this past season. MLB Trade Rumors estimates that his salary will rise to $3.9 million for his second year of arbitration, which could be a little too rich for the Angels if they merely see him as a swingman/long reliever. Williams has been more effective in relief, but his agent understandably wants to market him as a starter.
Tommy Hanson is also a non-tender candidate for the Angels after he was knocked around to the tune of a 5.42 ERA over 13 starts and two relief appearances this year. Like Williams, MLB Trade Rumors has him projected to make $3.9 million in 2014.
The Angels signed reliever Joe Smith to a three-year, $15.75 million deal on Saturday, just a day after adding third baseman David Freese and reliever Fernando Salas in a trade for Peter Bourjos and prospect Randal Grichuk. As a result, the Angels have about $8 million left before hitting the $189 million luxury tax threshold, according to MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez.
The Angels still need to bolster their starting rotation behind Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, and Garrett Richards. Gonzalez suggests the Angels may solve that by making another trade involving second baseman Howie Kendrick, shortstop Erick Aybar, and/or first baseman-slash-DH Mark Trumbo. The Cardinals were reportedly interested in Aybar in the Bourjos deal, but they didn’t want to both take on his remaining salary and give up a quality pitcher such as Shelby Miller.
As they stand right now, the Angels have Tommy Hanson and Jerome Williams at the back end of the rotation, but both could be non-tendered. Joe Blanton is under contract for $7.5 million but he lost his spot in the rotation last July and it doesn’t seem like the Angels are in any rush to move him back in from the bullpen.
The setup market is all set up: Joe Smith and the Angels have come to terms on a three-year contract, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
Yahoo! Sports’ Tim Brown reports that it’s worth $15.75 million.
Obviously, it’s a big price for a pretty anonymous guy, but Smith has a 2.97 ERA since entering the league in 2007 and has come in under that each of the last three years. He finished 6-2 with a 2.29 ERA and a 54/23 K/BB ratio in 63 innings for the Indians last season.
The big key with Smith is that he’s improved enough against left-handers these last few years that he can be left in to face them in big situations. When he first came into the league, he could only be trusted against righties. Lefties hit a modest .227/.325/.373 against him last season, and that was actually the best they’ve fared since 2010.
Smith will overtake Dane De La Rosa as the top setup man in front of Ernesto Frieri in the Anaheim bullpen. He’s an upgrade for sure, but at what cost? This is $5 million that can’t be spent to upgrade a rotation that has Garrett Richards for a third starter and some combination of Joe Blanton, Jerome Williams, Tommy Hanson, Wade LeBlanc and Chris Volstad next on the depth chart (Williams and Hanson are both non-tender candidates). The money would have been better used there. Between Frieri, De La Rosa, a much improved Michael Kohn, old standby Kevin Jepsen and other pieces like Ryan Brasier, Cory Rasmus, Juan Gutierrez and the newly acquired Fernando Salas, it seems like the Angels could have cobbled together the right-handed portion of their pen just fine.
The Angels will welcome left-hander Jason Vargas back from the disabled list tomorrow. And not only is Tommy Hanson the odd man out in the starting rotation, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com reports that he has been demoted to Triple-A Salt Lake.
Such a move would have been unthinkable just a couple of years ago, but Hanson is a shell of the pitcher he was when he first came up with the Braves. With his velocity on a steady decline, the 26-year-old owns a 4.92 ERA in 52 starts since he first started dealing with shoulder issues in 2011. The Angels took a chance by acquiring him from the Braves for Jordan Walden over the winter, but he has an ugly 5.59 ERA over 13 starts this season and a career-low 6.9 K/9.
Hanson is making $3.725 million this season and will be arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. He’s looking like a non-tender candidate.
In the top of the fourth with the Blue Jays leading 1-0, Jose Bautista hit Tommy Hanson’s 1-0 offering deep to left field with home run distance. Angels left fielder J.B. Shuck ranged back, timed his leap perfectly directly above the 330-foot marker, and snagged the ball just before falling into a sea of Angels fans behind the fence. Shuck completely disappeared from view of the camera before miraculously reappearing unscathed, with ball in tow.
Expect to see this on plenty of “best plays of the year” montages.