Angels make the big splash and sign Anthony Rendon

Per Jon Heyman, Anthony Rendon and the Angels inked a deal to the tune of a seven-year, $245 million deal. Owner Arte Moreno was thought to make a big splash, and after being outbid fewer than 24 hours ago, missing out on Gerrit Cole by about $25 million, they finally get their man. They likely outbid the Rangers, also in a similar position and looking for a shot in the arm, as well as the Dodgers, who seemed a bit more content to peruse the mid-market selection this offseason, and considering their wealth of prospects they could tap into a potential trade market featuring Francisco Lindor.

The Angels, on the other hand, are in quite the odd spot. They’ll likely have some of the best position players in baseball, including (obviously) Mike Trout, a now-pitching Shohei Ohtani who has an .883 OPS in just over a season’s worth of plate appearances, Andrelton Simmons, and they should be adding top prospect Jo Adell to the fold in short order after hitting to a .944 OPS in Double-A.

Yet it’s incredibly top-heavy overall; their rotations is largely slapped together, Brian Goodwin is the starting right fielder, and David Fletcher and Tommy La Stella offer league-average-ish performance. Their bullpen is basically middle-of-the-pack.

Rendon obviously changes that outlook, pushing them to about .500 as a baseline. That’s not anything to write home about, but there’s another way to think about it. For one, it’s Trout’s prime. You get one, and then all of the sudden your baseline roster goes from 58 to 48 wins. The second is just… actually trying to win for once? Moreno has been notorious for making the big splash, like for Albert Pujols being the prime example. People think of that as generally unwise, and likely people will say the same given their contention window.

Yet if you bump that win curve up by five wins, you do have a real, tangible chance of getting in the playoffs. Teams are still going up in value regardless, and that chance gives you something to build on; the Angels are now bound by lease until 2050, and Los Angeles isn’t getting less valuable as a market anytime soon.

And it’s not like this was some blown-out-of-the-water type deal; I think there’s a fair chance this is “good value” for the Angels even as far as free agents go. If you do the classic back-of-the-napkin math and say if he puts up 30 wins at $8 million per win it’s break-even, team valuations and league revenue have basically doubled in the last decade. If that’s the case in the 2020s, then these deals will exceed $400 million.

Can’t complain about this Winter Meetings, really. Two of the top free agents sign in back-to-back nights, and while not that many trades of note, there’s still time for some late-breaking news, or maybe the starting of a dialogue that leads to a big trade. For a sport that has seemed to have the worst offseason in decades in both 2017 and 2018, there’s at least a slight reprieve in not having to constantly refresh the league’s troubles. Sometimes it’s just fun to say “team get good player.”

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