By Mike DiGiovanna
5:44 PM PST, January 22, 2014
The New York Yankees' signing of Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka to a seven-year, $155-million deal won't really affect the Angels' pursuit of a starting pitcher, but it might complicate things.
Though the Angels scouted and liked Tanaka, they did not make a formal offer to him, General Manager Jerry Dipoto said Wednesday. The fact that the Angels declined to meet with Tanaka earlier this month — in Los Angeles — was a strong indication they wouldn't bid aggressively on him.
The Angels have about $15 million of wiggle room under the $189-million luxury-tax threshold. With their budget, Matt Garza, the veteran right-hander the Angels have targeted since November, seems like a better fit.
But the Angels don't want to overpay for Garza, who has a history of elbow problems, and like many teams, they've been waiting for his price to come down.
On the flip side, Garza and fellow starting pitchers Bronson Arroyo, Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez have been waiting for Tanaka to sign in hopes that the deal would fuel stronger markets for them.
The Angels don't want to surrender a first-round pick to sign Santana or Jimenez. Arroyo has been durable and consistent, but he turns 37 in February and he's looking for a two-year deal with a vesting option, but many believe he won't be as successful in the American League.
Garza makes the most sense, but would the Angels go five years and $60 million on him? It would be a huge gamble, but it's what Garza is reportedly looking for. A three- or four-year deal with a higher average annual salary would be more appealing to the Angels.
Garza is 67-67 with a 3.84 earned-run average in eight seasons, but a shoulder injury limited him to 1551/3 innings last season, and an elbow injury limited him to 1032/3 innings in 2012. He has been on the disabled list four times since 2009, three times because of elbow problems.
The Angels didn't pursue Tanaka because with Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson consuming $81.5 million of the luxury-tax payroll through 2016, and with Mike Trout's salary set to skyrocket in 2015 through arbitration or a long-term deal, they didn't want to take on another nine-figure contract.
If they're unable to land Garza, they could turn to such lesser pitchers as Chris Capuano or Paul Maholm, but Dipoto would be satisfied with a rotation of Weaver, Wilson, Garrett Richards, Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs.
Veteran left-hander Mark Mulder, who is attempting a comeback after missing three seasons because of shoulder injuries, could also push for a rotation spot.
"We like our pitching staff and the depth we've been able to come up with," Dipoto said. "We know there is some uncertainty with a handful of young pitchers as they learn the league, but we believe in their ability."
Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times