With six days left before Opening Day, the Angels have 36 players on their 40-man roster. Brad Mills, Bobby Cassevah, Steve Geltz and now Vernon Wells have all left camp one way or another.
That means four players have a way of working their way onto the Angels’ roster, including some who will start the season in the majors. That was by design, general manager Jerry Dipoto said Tuesday.
Wells, who was officially traded to the New York Yankees on Tuesday, was only going to play a fifth outfielder’s role behind fourth outfielder/designated hitter Mark Trumbo. The Angels can now potentially send their fifth outfielder back and forth between Anaheim and Triple-A Salt Lake as needed, if they choose from among Kole Calhoun, Scott Cousins, J.B. Shuck or Trent Oeltjen for the role. Wells, who held a no-trade clause, couldn’t be moved easily.
The trade “gave us a good deal of roster flexibility,” Dipoto said. “We learned a lesson last year with often times too crowded a house. We broke camp with Vernon, Bobby (Abreu), had (Mike) Trout in Triple-A, Trumbo, (Torii) Hunter, (Peter) Bourjos — at some point there has to be an ability to create playing time and allow freedom for the players to do what they do, and I think that’s the greatest advantage this trade brings us.”
There’s also the little matter of payroll flexibility. The Angels reportedly have roughly $6 million to spend before incurring baseball’s luxury tax, which is triggered when a team exceeds $178 million in payroll. Teams must pay 17.5 percent on every dollar above that amount.
They won’t be adding significant salary anytime soon. For now, Dipoto said he’s comfortable with the in-house candidates for the fifth outfielder’s job. And he’s very comfortable with the idea of Peter Bourjos as the Angels’ everyday center fielder without a veteran such as Wells pushing for playing time.
“Peter is a terrific makeup guy, great teammate, hard worker, and I feel he has the opportunity to evolve into a better-than-average major league center fielder and complete player,” Dipoto said. “When you get an extreme defender like Pete with above-average arm strength and is at the top of his scale for speed and also has the ability to deliver double-digit numbers in each of the power categories, that’s not easy to find.”