The Angels have nine (count ‘em, nine) players eligible for arbitration this offseason. What happens in these negotiations could determine the direction the club takes with free agents (or vice versa). Here is the list of those players and my advice to the Angels along with what any rational observer of the club can expect.
Erick Aybar (SS) - 2010 Salary: $2 million
What the Angels SHOULD do: Offer $3 million, they will win if it goes all the way.
What the Angels will likely do: While 2010 really underscored that their flashy SS might have peaked with his nice 2009 season campaign, the Angels value Aybar and will likely offer him a contract that buys out his two remaining arbitration eligible seasons and one year of free agency.
Alberto Callaspo (SS/3B) - 2010 Salary: $460,000
What the Angels SHOULD do: non-tender.
What the Angels will likely do: Callaspo will not bring as much in a trade from the Angels as he cost (Sean O'Sullivan and Will Smith) in their trade to acquire him from the Royals, but if they pursue Adrian Beltre, Callaspo could be one of the odd men out of the infield.
Kevin Frandsen (SS/3B) - 2010 Salary: prorated portion of $400,000 league minimum
What the Angels SHOULD do: non-tender
What the Angels will likely do: non-tender. Nice guy, no room.
Howie Kendrick (2B) 2010 Salary: $1.75 million
What the Angels SHOULD do: Moving Kendrick and a pitching prospect for Dan Uggla would solve a lot of problems. Moving Kendrick for someone's overpriced pitcher would clear space in the infield.
What the Angels will likely do: Like Aybar, the Angels are as deeply committed to Kendrick as Kirk is to Spock. He has mastered "Angels-style baseball" and the club seems bent on getting its tuition's worth. Look for them to settle prior to any arbitration hearing on something near $2.5 million.
Jeff Mathis ("C") - 2010 Salary: $1,300,000 (a true fan should be hoarse from screaming after reading that)
What the Angels SHOULD do: DFA yesterday.
What the Angels will likely do: We may be in luck Angels fans, as Mathis might cost too much to keep considering the depth at catching. Arbitration assures the player of a twenty percent raise and Hank Conger, Bobby Wilson and Ryan Budde will all be making league minimum in 2011.
Kendry Morales (1B/DH) - 2010 Salary: $1,200,000
What the Angels SHOULD do: With an iffy recovery and three years of arbitration ahead, the Angels could get the extremely rare opportunity to buy a year of free agency from a Boras client with a four year, $24 million contract offer.
What the Angels will likely do: They will go to arbitration, negotiate a somewhere near $2.75 million for 2011 and see where the foot lands this season.
Mike Napoli (C) - 2010 Salary: $3,600,000
What the Angels SHOULD do: with two years left of arbitration, the Angels could offer Napoli a three year $18 million contract. That would make everyone except Mike Scioscia and Jeff Mathis happy.
What the Angels will likely do: Napoli is the biggest trading chip they have and if they are certain of a Conger ascendancy behind the plate, they may gamble on Napoli and some prospects bringing Matt Kemp to LF in 2011.
Reggie Willits (OF/PR) - 2010 Salary: $625,000
What the Angels SHOULD do: non-tender
What the Angels will likely do: They will keep Reggie as a million dollar fourth outfielder in 2011.
Jered Weaver (SP) - 2010 Salary: $4,265,000
What the Angels SHOULD do: Scott Boras is not going to be amenable to selling one of Jered's free agency years, so the team will likely have to come close to the demands Boras makes this year and next. Look for Scott to ask for $11 millionfor Jered for 2011 and the Angels to counter with $8 million. This is the case that is most likely to co to the arbitrator and if these numbers are close to accurate, look for "Lil' Weave" to join the eight figure club.
What the Angels will likely do: They will pay through the nose for the next two seasons but have the inside track on retaining Jered's services in his post 2012 season free agency.
In conclusion, take a long look at this list. It is doubtful that even seven of these players will be on the opening day Angels roster.