Last season, the LA Angels got lucky and landed a star in Shohei Ohtani. This offseason, while there was no one similar to Ohtani for the taking, but the Halos still refused to go chasing stars.
For the LA Angels, they were never considered a front-runner for Manny Machado or Bryce Harper. While they pursued (and missed out on) nearly every free agent starter out there, they showed that they wanted to spend money. However, the team spoke volumes by making value deals and ended up with Jonathan Lucroy, Matt Harvey, Trevor Cahill, and Justin Bour. They’ll all find ways to help the team in 2019, but why didn’t the Angels go after Machado and Harper?
Per a report from Jeff Passan of ESPN, the Chicago White Sox made an offer of eight-years, $250 million to Machado. With them being one of the two main finalists, one would think more teams would be willing to offer Machado, arguably the best shortstop in the game, that kind of contract.
While there are obvious character concerns, those may be a fair reason for not going near the $300 million dollar point. It has been shown that no team is making that kind of “fit for a king” offer. However, one of the league’s best players on a deal worth $31.25 million yearly? That should be considered a steal, especially when one considers the consistency of Manny Machado.
While the Angels did have reasons not to pursue, but they also could have made one amazing sales pitch to Manny. They have Mike Trout, Ohtani, and the best Dominican player of all time in Albert Pujols. Machado, Dominican himself, doesn’t have the best image in Southern California after his disastrous run with the Dodgers in the playoffs last season. However, signing with the Angels would give him another chance to reinvent his identity.
Sure, the Angels have Andrelton Simmons at shortstop and have two years left on Zack Cozart’s deal. However, an aging vet on a bad deal shouldn’t persuade Billy Eppler and Co. to stray from the path of signing Manny Machado.
And why not Bryce Harper? While he almost certainly will get more money than Machado, Harper, Ohtani, and Trout would provide the most powerful 2-3-4 lineup in all of baseball, and with Kole Calhoun coming off an awful season (even after he did wage war in the summer), Harper makes sense for the Angels.
Signing Harper makes Calhoun a trade candidate, and then when top prospect Jo Adell (whose movements in the minors were well-documented) is ready to play with confidence in the MLB, Justin Upton also becomes a trade piece. If you take those two contracts off the books, that creates a lot of room for the Harper deal to fill the void.
All around, the Halos had the possibility to make a big time move. However, they instead were strict with their cash, allowed old deals (Pujols, Josh Hamilton) to affect their thought process, and made constant varials when they kept getting denied by top-tier pitchers.
The Angels were apart of the problem in modern baseball this offseason. With their (and other clubs) refusal to spend this offseason, along with MiLB treating their players like slaves, the league is drawing nearer and nearer to a strike. Instead of being part of the problem this offseason by not having their sights on a trophy, eyes should have been on how the Angels could have and should have taken advantage of the opportunity.