The team declined to tender 2015 contacts to utility infielder Gordon Beckham, pitcher Wade LeBlanc and reliever Yoslan Herrera, but General Manager Jerry Dipoto hopes to retain all three players, who are now free agents.
“We’ve had various levels of discussions with all three of them,” Dipoto said. “Gordon is the most accomplished of the group. He did a nice job for us. All three of these players fit for us, and we’d like to bring them back.”
Beckham, 28, could fill an important reserve role for the Angels and provide insurance in case Freese or second baseman Howie Kendrick is traded, but the Angels did not want to commit $5 million to him, the amount he is projected to make in his third year of arbitration.
They would prefer to sign Beckham for less money and are believed to be open to signing him to a two-year deal.
Beckham, acquired from the Chicago White Sox on Aug. 21, hit .268 in 26 games for the Angels last season. He came up to the big leagues as a second baseman, hitting .270 with 14 home runs and 63 runs batted in as a White Sox rookie in 2009, but he showed an ability to play third base and shortstop.
LeBlanc, a veteran left-hander who was projected to make $800,000 in arbitration, went 1-1 with a 3.94 earned-run average in 11 games, three of them starts, during two stints with the Angels last season. Herrera went 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA in 20 relief appearances.
Freese, 31, had a subpar 2014, batting .260 with 10 homers and 55 RBIs and missing three weeks of May because of a fractured middle finger on his right hand.
But with third-base prospect Kaleb Cowart, a former first-round pick, stalled at double A and no other in-house option at third, the Angels had little choice but to secure Freese for at least one more season.
The Angels also tendered 2015 contracts to six other arbitration-eligible players: pitchers Garrett Richards, Kevin Jepsen, Hector Santiago, Cesar Ramos and Fernando Salas and reserve outfielder Collin Cowgill. Richards figures to make the most of that group, with a projected salary of $4 million next season.
Dipoto also said the Angels have signed speedy outfielder D’Arby Myers, a former Westchester High standout, and right-handed pitcher Albert Suarez to minor league deals.
Myers, 25, hit .268 in nine seasons in the Philadelphia Phillies and Oakland Athletics farm systems and batted .305 at double-A Midland, Texas, last season. The 6-foot-3, 235-pound Suarez, 25, went 13-23 with a 3.60 ERA in seven seasons in the Tampa Bay organization, none of them higher than double A.