The acquisition of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson make some current Angels expendable. Let's rundown the likeliest scenarios in this expensive game of musical chairs.
Bombshells are not without shrapnel and collateral. The acquisition of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson (not to mention LaTroy Hawkins in the bullpen) spells the end of someone's Angels career and more than just a handful of players from the 2011 squad. Here are my odds for likelihood of each current Angel player possibly being traded or released by opening day, 2012:
Bobby Abreu: Even Money
Abreu's tenure as DH/4th outfielder for Anaheim is over and it is just a matter of finding the club that flip a low priority prospect to take on Bobby's $9 million salary. The only thing that keeps him in Angels red is a blockbuster deal of other players leaving and the Angel have probably had too much of that for one
offseason decade in one week already.
Maicer Izturis: 2-1
The Mice Man might have to goeth as the price tag for utility infielders is a little higher this offseason and his one year contract makes him an ideal acquisition for any team looking for back up help while unsure of its own infielding prospects.
Alberto Callaspo: 4-1
Callaspo has two years of arbitration left and could bring in a better prospect than Izturis. It will take a little more to pry him loose though as any experimenting with nontraditional 3B-men will require heavy "backup-in-waiting".
Erick Aybar: 7-1
A favorite of Mike Scioscia, but in his final year of arbitration before free agency, it is not like his 2011 Gold Glove is going o be the lead advertisement in any billboard campaigns now. Will likely get $5 million in arbitration and a healthy spring by Jean Segura or Alexi Amarista could inspire Jerry Dipoto to save 1/5 of Albert's salary and restock the farm.
Kendrys Morales: 8-1
The logjam at 1B would make this a no-brainer except for those pesky medical reports. With two more years of arbitration ahead, Morales serves as a great insurance policy for any Albert downtime. And yet, his agent is Scott Boras who wants him showcased in 2012 and 13 to showcase his free agency. A dominant spring training might deliver some team taking a gamble, or if he is not healing well, the team might just cut their losses and release him.
Hisanori Takahashi: 9-1
The signing of Lefty Hawkins makes the $4.2 million salary of Takahashi expendable and something that could bring in a prospect or two.
Mark Trumbo: 10-1
On the surface an obvious move, and yet the sheer affordability of Trumbo for the next few seasons (he is not arbitration eligible until after the 2014 season) begs his integration into the lineup. Unless he absolutely fails at a tryout at 3B, the Angels will give him every chance. A healthy and resurgent Morales could tempt the team to sell high on his scary .291 OBP, though, so don't rule anything out.
Howie Kendrick: 11-1
It is Howie's contract season and with an arbitration hearing sure to get him at least $5.5 million if not more, the Angels may try to get prospects and at least 1/5 of Albert's 2012 paid for. Howie is immensely popular and might actually deliver more long-term value to the club with a good season and free agency giving the Angels someone else's 2013 draft pick.
Scott Downs: 20-1
The former Blue Jay is owed $10 million over the next two seasons which is more than 1/3 of what Albert will make in 2012. After delivering perhaps the greatest single set-up season in club history, Downs will never bring more back to the Angels than this offseason. But his odds of leaving are high because of a simple concern: Can Butcher's bullpen survive without him?
Ervin Santana: 30-1
Jerry Dipoto sounded as committed to Ervin as to any pitcher in his post-press conference comments, but with an $11-million-plus 2012 salary and an option for 2012, his half-Albert salary is sure an expensive rotation insurance policy.
Beyond this point there would seem to be only untradeable players (but read on for "Twilight Zone" scenarios). There are players that are too affordable to trade, too expensive to trade and too important to trade.
TOO AFFORDABLE: Alexi Amarista, Trevor Bell, Peter Bourjos, Bobby Cassevah, Hank Conger, Kevin Jepsen, Michael Kohn, Jeremy Moore, Garrett Richards, Andrew Romine, Rich Thompson, Mike Trout, Jordan Walden, Jerome Williams, Bobby Wilson.
TWILIGHT ZONE SCENARIOS:
There could be dream opportunities for the Angels to have a better payroll by trading away Vernon Wells. Huh? A crafty GM somewhere may covet an Angels player or three and agrees to take on all or some of Vernon's monster contract if the right package is offered.
Suppose Garrett Richards is dominating in the 5th spot of the rotation midseason and a club offers a prospect or two for Damn Haren and Vernon Wells with the Angels paying half of Wells' salary. Do the Angels ditch a Haren for $40 million+ in salary relief?
What about a February offer of a lower few prospects for Conger, Trout and Vernon Wells and all of Vernon's slary? Sure Dipoto says no, but substitute Segura and Richards for Trout and the Angels only paying 25% of what is owed to Vernon, are you on board yet? Is Jerry?
We know for sure that Pujols and Wilson squeeze somebody out. Will Dipoto prove as apt at player expulsion as he is acquisition?