Los Angeles Angels Get Tommy Hanson: Their Offseason Plan Going Forward

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Los Angeles Angels Get Tommy Hanson: Their Offseason Plan Going Forward
The Angels improved their starting rotation by acquiring Tommy Hanson. Now what? AP Photo/John Bazemore

Rather than wait until next week's MLB winter meetings, the Los Angeles Angels bolstered their rotation on Friday by swapping reliever Jordan Walden for Tommy Hanson.

Good move, but more change is on deck.

The newly-acquired right-hander isn't assured success in the American League. He actually pitched below replacement level in the Senior Circuit last season, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

The key will be Hanson's health. He spent time on the disabled list with back pain in August 2012 and fared poorly over the summer's final seven weeks (1-5, 4.99 ERA, 1.48 WHIP in 9 GS). Also, the 26-year-old struggled through shoulder problems the previous year, starting only 22 games.

However, Hanson has an impressive speed differential between his fastball and curveball that can fool any batter. He's eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter, projected to earn about $4 million (via Matt Swartz, MLB Trade Rumors). The Halos will have him under team control through 2015.

Slot him behind Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson in the starting rotation.

Still, GM Jerry Dipoto has other moves to consider.

 

Out-bid everybody for Mike Adams

The Angels entered the offseason desperate for bullpen help.

That's why they signed Ryan Madson. He can be an excellent closer...if healthy.

The Tommy John survivor is questionable for Opening Day. Even when Madson returns to a major league mound, there's no guarantee that he'll be in top condition. Joba Chamberlain and Adam Wainwright (in 2012) and Joe Nathan (the year before) are examples of reputable pitchers who were less-than-stellar in their first seasons back from the infamous elbow procedure.

It usually takes 12 months to recover from Tommy John surgery, but longer to return to full strength. Getty Images

As a backup plan, L.A. should pursue the 34-year-old Adams. In fact, give him a multi-year deal.

Thoracic outlet syndrome soiled his September stats, but the front office shouldn't be deterred.

Adams is among the most consistent strike-throwers in this free-agent class. His cutter ranks second to only Mariano Rivera's in filthiness. Since it became his primary offspeed pitch in 2009 (h/t FanGraphs), he has allowed only 12 home runs in 243 appearances. Nobody can square it up.

Dipoto can sign the superb setup man for the same $15 million it took to woo Scott Downs two years ago.

 

Dump Vernon Wells

Vernon Wells is the highest-paid bench player in professional sports. Getty Images

This ugly contract situation is hardly unique.

With two years remaining on A.J. Burnett's atrocious agreement, the New York Yankees shipped him to the Pittsburgh Pirates. They saved $13 million and received a pair of prospects in return (albeit fairly useless ones).

Wells has been a .222/.258/.409 train wreck in an Angels uniform. Coming up on his 34th birthday, he still runs relatively well. It seems like an eternity ago, but the outfielder was an AL All-Star in 2010.

Surely, the Halos can contact a playoff hopeful—the Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox or Philadelphia Phillies—in need of another outfielder. Saving themselves just a quarter of his remaining $42 million would help them court one more legitimate starting pitcher.

 

Re-sign Dan Haren

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Move on from Zack Greinke. He wants double Haren's annual salary and three times as many years.

Yet both are outstanding when completely healthy.

Haren clearly wasn't last season (12-13, 4.33 ERA in 176.2 IP). Back pain landed him on the disabled list, and according to ESPN's Buster Olney, teams worry about the condition of his hip.

That is not an excuse to discount all his prior accomplishments. The right-hander has one of the best strikeout-to-walk ratios in MLB history! He eclipsed the 215-inning mark every year between 2005 and 2011, capping that run with a seventh-place finish in AL Cy Young voting.

Haren might have lukewarm feelings toward the Angels after they tried to trade him earlier this winter. It might take a two-year, $25 million guarantee and 2015 vesting option to get a deal done.

And he's worth it.

 

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