With little payroll maneuverability, Angels may have to trade to bolster rotation

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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.

Cody Bellinger continues to lead all All-Star vote-getters

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As you’ll recall, we have a new All-Star voting system in place this year. It’s a two-tiered system.

The “the Primary,” is underway and runs through June 21. That’s just the regular “vote for whoever you want stuff.” After it’s over, the top three vote-getters at each position will then be placed on a new ballot — “The Starter’s Election” — from which fans will then vote again during a single 28-hour period to decide who starts the All-Star Game. The results of that will be announced on June 27. The bench guys and pitchers and stuff will be chosen as usual, with full rosters announced a couple of days later.

Major League Baseball just gave us an update of who’s leading the primary. The overall leaders at each position break down thusly:

Here are the more extensive leaderboards, with the shaded names belonging to players who, if voting stopped now, would make the second round. First, the American League:

And now the National League:

Vote early, vote often.