Thursday, December 13, 2012
Hamilton to Angels, Dickey next?
By Jim Bowden
If the Angels really want to win the winter, they should make a strong push for R.A. Dickey.
For the second straight year, the Los Angeles Angels have swooped in to land the biggest free agent out there, signing Josh Hamilton to a five-year deal worth $125 million.
The Angels got incredible production from Torii Hunter last year, so Hamilton will fill the void Hunter left when he signed with the Detroit Tigers a few weeks ago. However, signing Hamilton creates the same problem the Angels had last year: too many outfielders.
As I see it, the Angels have three options for handling this logjam.
The New York Mets have to be thrilled about Hamilton's signing with the Angels. They've been shopping Dickey all winter, and the Texas Rangers have been the main suitor. Now the Rangers might feel more desperate to get Dickey after losing Hamilton, which gives the Mets more leverage.
What also helps the Mets is that the Angels' surplus of oufielders might put them in the mix for Dickey because the Mets need outfield help desperately. A package of speedy center fielder Peter Bourjos and right-hander Garrett Richards might be enough to get the Dickey conversation started. The Halos could go so far as to throw in catcher Hank Conger (another Mets need) to get the deal done, though the Mets would probably need to include a second player in such a scenario. The Angels have a weak farm system and are clearly in win-now mode, so they might as well try to put themselves over the top. Also, they lost both Ervin Santana and Dan Haren this winter, so they need some pitching depth. Dickey would make them the clear favorite in the AL West.
Having the Angels in the mix for Dickey could help the Mets in forcing the Rangers to increase their offer, going so far as to part with lefty Martin Perez and infielder Mike Olt for the knuckleballer.
2. Let the outfield depth ride
The Angels had arguably the best defensive outfield in baseball last year with Trout in left, Bourjos in center and Hunter in right, and they can have it again with Hamilton replacing Hunter. Some say Trout should be in center, but Mike Scioscia has told me that Bourjos is slightly better with the glove than Trout because of his superior ability to come in on the ball. Nothing falls in front of Bourjos. (Vernon Wells is still around, but he's a nonfactor at this point.)
If your regular outfield is Trout, Bourjos, Hamilton, what do you do with Mark Trumbo? His natural position is first base, but he is not displacing Pujols, and he spent most of his time in left field last year. The club tried him at third base, but that experiment failed miserably, so it's hard to see them trying that again. The only good spot for Trumbo is designated hitter, but the Halos also have Kendrys Morales, whose overall line last year was actually pretty similar to Trumbo's. He hit .273/.320/.467 with 22 homers in 484 at-bats, while Trumbo was .268/.317/.491 with 32 homers in 491 at-bats.
All things being equal, the Angels would prefer to keep Trumbo since he's younger, cheaper and does not have a bad injury history. Which brings us to the third option.
3. Trade Morales
Because of his broken leg a couple of years ago, Morales can't really play the field. But his bat was decent last year and he could help some clubs. One team that comes to mind is the Baltimore Orioles, and right-hander Steve Johnson would make sense as a return. Johnson is more of a back-end guy, but the Angels need some rotation depth after losing both Santana and Haren this offseason, and Johnson could slide right into the rotation.
The bottom line is this: The Angels have made the ultimate win-now move, and they should do something else to put them over the top.