This offseason is no different. As the Winter Meetings get closer (December 9-12), it's almost certain that the whispers surrounding the Angels will increase—eventually morphing into a media-driven roar.
Out of that chaotic guessing game and inside dish will come two summations: Not every rumor you hear or read about the Angels this offseason will be true. And not every rumor you hear or read about the Angels this offseason will be false.
Which is which and what is what? That's the difficult part.
Following the three-day General Manager Meetings in Orlando, Florida, Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto hinted that several of the Halos have drawn an interest around the MLB (per MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez). With that begins the basis of what players could go, what players will stay, why they are going or staying and which players we can expect to see welcomed as new Angels.
But therein also lies the opinions and possible false leads, too.
It can be overwhelming, no question. But so you won't find yourself feeling like a character in a Tom Clancy novel, never knowing who to trust, I have taken six Angels rumors, put on the detective hat and rendered them fact or fiction for you.
Peter Bourjos has been mentioned as a possible trade chip for the Angels this offseason, and with good reason: He is excellent with the glove, can provide speed on the bases and his bat is starting to complement his defense. According to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, one team that has interest in Bourjos is the Philadelphia Phillies.
A smart trade option? Fiction.
Though I still believe there is a chance for the Angels to move Bourjos in a deal, the Phillies don't have any players who stand out to make this particular trade a smart move for the Angels. Problem is, with Bourjos carrying only one full season under his belt (2011), the negotiating for quality arms in return may not be a one-for-one deal.
It would not be a huge surprise, then, to see Philadelphia try to get Bourjos with less than what the Angels would be willing to take.
That would leave a packaged deal, possibly with another team involved, as the only other options. And both scenarios don't seem like convincing avenues for the Angels to explore.
There are far better depth options out there, which could be obtained in a deal using Bourjos.
Jason Vargas, who went 9-8 for the Angels with an ERA of 4.02, was not given a qualifying offer by the club, which allows the 30-year-old lefty to explore the free-agent market—a weak market for left-handed pitchers.
According to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the Angels still want to negotiate with Vargas, attempting to bring him back at around a yearly of $10 million. And the hope would be that Vargas, a Southern California guy, would be willing to leave bigger money elsewhere in order to stay in Anaheim.
Following Tim Hudson's free-agent inking with the San Francisco Giants, however, there is a real possibility that Vargas’ price will be too high for the Angels.
Because the two pitchers both suffered injury in 2013—Hudson's ankle certainly overshadowing Vargas' blood clot—I wouldn't fault the Vargas camp for having a little extra confidence during future negotiations with teams, expecting to at least start at the reported two-year, $23 million deal Hudson got from the Giants.
Will that make Vargas too high-priced for the Angels? Fiction.
Vargas, at least in my mind, is still the biggest priority for the Angels this offseason. Not only does he provide a good balance to the righty-lefty makeup within the rotation, but he is also a guy that can provide a lot of solid innings, reducing the need for constant mid-relief. And he won't cost the team Mark Trumbo, theoretically.
As for the Hudson comparison, use it more as a benchmark and less of a starting point. There are always a few people that will compare players like it's 1940. In reality, with the way athletes are training now in the offseason—which doesn't mean doing toe touches while smoking a cigarette—age doesn't hold a ton of monetary persuasion, especially when both are pitchers.
With injuries that don't affect either in terms of throwing the baseball, I would expect the $11.5 million annual that Hudson got should be just about in the same park as what Vargas should expect. No higher than that—not for a No. 4 starter.
Maybe it's just one man's opinion, but the willingness to cut loose Trumbo has become more of a stubborn scenario as of late, even among the decision makers. When asked about the Angels' big hitter, a person connected with the team told CBS Sports' Jon Heyman that, "He fits us."
And…well, Trumbo does "fit" the Angels.
He is a local product. There is a team-first kind of presence about him—especially from what I saw this past season—and he certainly can be the needed power should Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols continue to decline. (Interesting note: If beards help win championships, then Trumbo's proven razor-free ability should be assuring too.)
So then, keep him? Fiction.
It's the popular move, but not the right move—even more so if the Vargas deal goes flat.
Trumbo is undoubtedly the most lucrative trade chip the Angels have, even more so than Howie Kendrick. Because of his power, his age and the presumable possibility he can play both the outfield and first base (as well as DH), there shouldn't be any surprise that teams such as the Pittsburgh Pirates, Boston Red Sox and perhaps even the Tampa Bay Rays are interested.
If the Angels can get a solid, top-three type starter in return for Trumbo—which those three teams could produce—then parting ways would be smart.
It would hurt, no question. But it's a reality the team will have to face if they are serious about landing a quality arm.
Recently, in an interview with MLB Network Radio (h/t LA Times' Mike DiGiovanna), Bronson Arroyo said that several teams have expressed interest, including the Angels.
Arroyo, the fourteen-year MLB veteran, had a decent year with the Cincinnati Reds in 2013. The right-hander went 14-12, with a 3.79 ERA in 200-plus innings of work. The price could be right, so it's understandable that the Angels have some interest.
If the team fails to sign Vargas to a deal, Arroyo, who has the same innings-eating ability, could be a fit as a back-of-the-rotation guy.
His NL-leading 32 home runs surrendered in 2013, however, should cause concern.
When you look at the short porch Arroyo dealt with in Cincinnati—according to ESPN.com, the Great American Ballpark was the second-most homer friendly park—there is reason to believe he could have success at Angel Stadium, which finished 20th in the same poll.
But that argument starts to sound a lot like last year's risk, Joe Blanton.
Is it enough of a red flag to keep the Halos away from completing a deal? Fact.
This isn't to say that Arroyo is the same as Blanton. Arroyo comes with two consecutive sub-four ERA seasons. Blanton has not had a sub-four year since 2007. Arroyo helped his battery, only allowing three stolen bases on the season. Blanton allowed 17 stolen bases.
They are different pitchers. Yet the idea of spending free-agent money can't be vouched for based on what a team didn't get. That's the argument here.
More importantly, that's the lesson the Angels should have already learned from last year.
Had the 2013 AL MVP voting not occupied both the TV and Internet all last week, I really think more discussion would have sparked regarding the possible Max Scherzer or Rick Porcello trade from the Detroit Tigers.
And, according to what Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski told FOX Sports' Jon Morosi at the GM Meetings, crazy will almost certainly occur: The Tigers' desire to get Drew Smyly back in the rotation means that either Porcello or Scherzer will get dealt.
Scherzer, who is coming off the 2013 AL Cy Young, is in his third year of arbitration eligibility with free agency looming in 2015.
Porcello, the younger of the two at 24 years old, won't be eligible for free agency until 2016, which would give clubs two years of control.
As expected, either would get a decent return for their value, though Porcello may be the easier of the two to move.
But is it a smart move for the Angels? Fact.
I'm not in complete agreement that it could work, but that doesn't mean it's not worth a look. The Tigers need outfield help, second base and a possible catcher, and the Angels have Kendrick (second base), Peter Bourjos (outfield) and Hank Conger or Chris Iannetta (catcher).
Sure, with the exception of Kendrick, I wouldn't see the Tigers getting overexcited to part ways with Scherzer for the likes of Bourjos, Conger or Iannetta. The value wouldn't match. However, I could see a packaged deal—as long as Kendrick is in it—working to get Porcello.
Regardless, both are worth the exploring.
The Angels just so happen to have a solid shortstop in Erick Aybar.
Done and done? Fiction.
Aybar, who hit .271 with 68 runs scored in 2013, certainly has the potential to be traded. Though his defense dropped a bit (.973 fielding percentage), the value for a switch-hitting infielder with decent speed is not something that will be ignored by other teams.
The chance he lands with the Cardinals, though, is slim. The NL champs have reportedly shown interest in Texas Rangers infielders Jurickson Profar and Elvis Andrus, and Colorado Rockies All-Star Troy Tulowitzki (per Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan). No such interest has been said about Aybar.
If, for some reason, the Cardinals miss on all three then there could be a chance that Aybar is the next best thing. However, this is less about the cardinals and more about the Angels. Because there is a lack of depth in the infield, with a hole at third base and Grant Green as the platoon-type savior, dumping Aybar might be too much of a risk.
In fact, it is a definite risk.
Unless otherwise noted, all stats were courtesy of baseball-reference.com.
Follow Rick Suter on Twitter@rick_suter.