Is the Angels’ window for contending closing?

29 Comments

After being swept out of the playoffs by the Royals last night Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto was asked if his team’s window for contending was closing and he strongly disagreed, telling Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com:

We had a fantastic season, won 98 games. Our desire was to win a world championship, and obviously we fell short, but I still feel really confident in the foundation of the players that were here. … We’re not a team that can’t sustain and can’t balance what we’re doing. We like the group of players we have; we feel like we’re a well-put-together team. Again, we fell short. Next year, with the full contingent, believing that we will have Garrett Richards back and in large part have a big part of the foundation of this team. We feel we’re tweaks and turns from being a very good team again. There’s no reason that will change.

Spending big on free agents Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, and C.J. Wilson has worked out horribly for the Angels and will continue to hamstring Dipoto, because he has very little payroll space remaining unless owner Arte Moreno approves a big budget increase.

With that said, Mike Trout is the best player in the league at age 23 and having him around erases a lot of mistakes and a lot of iffy payroll-related decisions. There’s no way the window is going to slam shut on a team coming off a 98-win season with Trout and a payroll approaching $200 million, but Dipoto has quite a few issues to address and not a whole lot of roster or payroll flexibility.

Pujols is signed through 2021, Hamilton is signed through 2017, and Wilson is signed through 2016.

Phillies sign Francisco Liriano and Neil Walker to minor league deals

Francisco Liriano
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
2 Comments

Robert Murray and MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported earlier, respectively, that the Phillies signed pitcher Francisco Liriano and infielder Neil Walker to minor league contracts. If he makes the major league roster, Liriano will earn a salary of $1.5 million with an additional $1.25 million available through performance incentives. Walker’s contract information is not yet known.

Liriano, 36, struggled from 2016-18 but enjoyed a productive year out of the bullpen for the Pirates this past season. He posted a 3.47 ERA with 63 strikeouts and 35 walks over 70 innings. The lefty was quite effective against same-handed batters, limiting fellow lefties to a .659 OPS. That would figure to be a key component if Liriano makes the Phillies’ Opening Day roster.

Walker, 34, hit .261/.344/.395 with eight home runs and 38 RBI over 381 plate appearances with the Marlins last year. The veteran is versastile, having played first, second, and third base along with both corner outfield spots in recent seasons. Despite Walker’s versatility, it is tough to see room on the Phillies’ roster for him, barring injuries to other players. It never hurts to have depth.