The Angels’ outfield logjam is suddenly a lot less complicated.
Angels’ television broadcaster Victor Rojas reports that Vernon Wells will have surgery tomorrow to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb. He can resume baseball activities in 8-10 weeks, which means he’ll likely be out until around the start of August.
Of course, this injury is no back-breaker for the Angels. Even as Torii Hunter remains away from the team following his son’s arrest in a sexual assault case, Angels manager Mike Scioscia can play Mike Trout, Peter Bourjos and Mark Trumbo in the outfield on most nights. Not bad. Not bad at all.
Wells, 33, is hitting .242/.282/.422 with six homers, 12 RBI and a .702 OPS over 142 plate appearances this season. He’s making $21 million per season through 2014.
In an age in which even baseball’s richest teams talk about tight budgets and keeping payroll low, it’s pretty rare to hear anyone connected with a front office talking about freely spending money. Phillies owner John Middleton, however, offered up something rare about the team’s approach to free agency.
“We’re going into this expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it,” he told Bob Nightengale or USA Today. He then added, “we just prefer not to be completely stupid.” That save aside, it was a pretty unusual sentiment these days.
“Stupid” could certainly mean Bryce Harper, who the Phillies have long been expected to pursue. It could even mean Harper and Manny Machado. Why not? At the moment the Phillies’ payroll for 2019 is looking to be just a shade above $100 million, so even adding, say, $70 million to that would not put them in an unreasonable position compared to other competitors. And that’s before you figure in any sort of back-loading or deferred money that Harper and/or Machado might agree to.
Or, even if they didn’t get one or both of those guys, they could spend that same kind of money on multiple free agents. Patrick Corbin? Marwin Gonzalez? A handful of others? We counted down the top 100 free agents last week and any number of them could be acquired given the sort of payroll flexibility a large market team like the Phillies appear to have. It merely requires the will to do it. A will which, it seems, John Middleton possesses.