ANAHEIM -- Jerry Dipoto has a tough task on his hands: Keep the Angels competitive, with very little talent in the upper levels of their farm system and most of the payroll tied to long-term contracts for aging players. Dipoto, entering his fourth offseason as the Angels' general manager, must do it all without surpassing the luxury tax, and under a competitive owner with no desire to
ever enter in a rebuild stage.
The challenge continues now, with the Angels comin
g off a 98-win regular season and three days removed from swift elimination by the Royals in the American League Division Series.
The contracts for Vernon Wells and Joe Blanton come off the books this winter. But Mike Trout's six-year, $144.5 million extension is added to the competitive-balance-tax payroll, which uses the average annual value of all 40-man-roster players, plus bonuses and benefits, to determine how close teams are to the tax threshold. That threshold will be $189 million once again in 2015, with teams taxed
17.5 percent for going over it. Five of the Angels' players (Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Trout) make up about 56 percent of that.
The key to keeping the Angels competitive, and not being in the financial situation of, say, the Phillies, "is to make sure you achieve good balance," Dipoto said.
The Angels need to have contributing players "who develop on the other side of the roster," meaning cheap assets making about $500,000 because they're in the service-time range of zero to three years. The Angels have some of those -- Kole Calhoun, Matt Shoemaker, Mike Morin, C.J. Cron, to name a few -- as well as avenues to free up money down the road.
After the 2015 season, Howie Kendrick, Chris Iannetta and Huston Street come off the books. After the '16 season, Weaver, Wilson and Erick Aybar are slated for free agency.
Can't wait to see your Halos on the field again? Preseason is right around the corner...