- Buster Olney, Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
The Los Angeles Angels finished 22nd in starters' ERA last season, and are said to be casting a wide net as they look for ways to upgrade their rotation through trades. There are still starting pitchers available through free agency, but agents report that Arte Moreno's executives are not engaging much in that market, which speaks to the budget crunch the Angels face.
They have spent about $300 million in salaries the past two seasons with no playoff berth to show for it, and next year they are slated to pay $37 million to Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton alone -- before that figure jumps to $47 million in 2015, and $55 million in 2016; Hamilton's contract is backloaded, with his final two years paying out at $30 million annually.
And let's not forget that Mike Trout hits arbitration next winter, and his growing salary -- or potentially enormous contract extension -- adds another problem for the Angels' long-term payroll outlook.
Unless Moreno is willing to flirt with the luxury-tax cap and increase his payroll, then the Angels' only real hope of landing some pitching is to trade assets on the major league roster, because their farm system is thin. This is why they began reaching out to other teams in early October to let them know they'd be willing to talk about Mark Trumbo, Peter Bourjos, Chris Iannetta and Howie Kendrick, among others.