ARLINGTON, Texas -- Although it's still anyone's guess whether Jerry Dipoto will be the man to guide the Angels through this offseason, Dipoto at least has a clear idea of what needs to happen.
"We need starting pitching depth, and we need options from within," the Angels' general manager said before Thursday night's opener of the Angels' final four-game series of the season. "We need young, controllable starting pitching -- essentially guys that when something goes wrong at the major league level, inevitably an injury will occur or somebody's going to struggle for a period of time, guys that can step in and that you can build toward. It's gold in the game."
If Dipoto is back -- he would not discuss his job status, which is rumored to be tenuous -- he'll have a difficult challenge to add that pitching.
As the roster is currently constructed, the Angels' payroll in 2014 would be close to the competitive balance tax threshold of $189 million. The 10 players who have guaranteed contracts for next season will count for $131 million toward the CBT, and that doesn't include any of the players who are arbitration eligible, any of the pre-arbitration players or any of the benefits and bonuses that go toward the total.
The first free-agent pitcher the Angels will consider is Jason Vargas, because he's already here. Vargas, who is 9-7 with a 4.01 ERA, is making $8.5 million in the final year of his contract. The Angels do not have to wait until the free-agent period opens in November to negotiate with Vargas, although Dipoto wouldn't say if they plan to do that.
"We're certainly interested in having him back," Dipoto said. "But there's no certainty when you're this close to free agency."
The Angels are not expected to make the $14 million qualifying offer to Vargas because if he accepted it, that would force them to subtract someone else to stay under the CBT threshold.
Of course, the Angels aren't likely to be able to acquire the young controllable pitching Dipoto desires without trading one of their everyday players, such as Howie Kendrick or Mark Trumbo, which would save them $6 million to $10 million.
One pitcher who will almost certainly be back is Joe Blanton. Blanton, who has one year left on his two-year, $15 million deal, has a 6.04 ERA this season, and he lost his spot in the rotation. Dipoto said he expects Blanton to have a chance to compete for a job again next year.
"Obviously he did not have a good year, but he's had success at the major league level," Dipoto said. "I'm not going to kick that to the curb. He had a rough year, but we're not deep enough on the pitching mound to not consider every option."
Among other issues Dipoto addressed:
Peter Bourjos is going to have to earn back his position as one of the Angels' top-three outfielders. Bourjos was having his best season, but it was interrupted twice by injuries.
"Peter is definitely part of the mix, but when you have as much down time as he has had ... where he fits in the mix depends on how he returns from this injury and a lot of fractured playing time," Dipoto said.
The Angels "are going to look at" alternatives from outside the organization to join in the third-base mix, Dipoto said. They will "explore" Grant Green at third, but "there's a lot that has to be done in order to get Grant comfortable enough to play third on a regular basis."
Dipoto is not concerned the Angels' recent success has dropped their position in next year's draft. They were positioned to pick as high as sixth, but they currently sit in the 14th spot.
"The draft is such an unpredictable animal, whether you're picking ninth, 13th or 17th, you're going to have an opportunity to pick a good player," he said. "You might pick 25th and get the best player in the world."
Mike Trout was the 25th pick in 2009.
HAMILTON HAS OFFSEASON PLAN
Josh Hamilton's disappointing season has convinced him of at least one change he wants to make next year.
Hamilton said before the Angels' 6-5 loss to the Texas Rangers that he wants to come to spring training next year about 10 to 15 pounds heavier.
"I'm going to try to put some weight on, but do it the right way," he said. "All the same things I'm doing now, just adding more calories. This year I haven't been weaker. I'm as strong in the weight room as I always have been, but there something to be said for having a little butt on you."
Hamilton said he reported to camp this season at about 227 pounds, which was about 25 pounds lighter than he had been in Texas. He reasoned that he always lost about 25 pounds during the season in the Texas heat, and he would not lose as much in Anaheim. He said he still lost about 5-10 pounds this season.
"If I come to camp at 240 and be at 230 (at the end), that would be ideal," Hamilton said.
The Angels lost on a walkoff homer for the fourth consecutive game at the Ballpark at Arlington, including all three in a series in July. This time Michael Kohn gave up a homer to Jurickson Profar in the ninth inning.
"I don't like this place very much," said Kohn, who also gave up one of the homers in July. "It's not the ballpark. It's a matter of executing pitches. Unfortunately I haven't executed pitches here, and I've gotten beaten every time I've done that."
Mark Trumbo snapped an 0-for-25 streak with three hits, including his 100th RBI to tie the score in the seventh inning. Trumbo also got a scare in the ninth when Kole Calhoun's foul ball grazed his ear while he was standing in the on-deck circle. He and Calhoun both struck out with the go-ahead run at third in the ninth. ... J.B. Shuck left the game because of a sprained right ankle in the fifth inning, but he said he's fine. ... Jerome Williams, who was in line for his fifth consecutive victory, got out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the fifth, leaving with a 4-3 lead that the bullpen couldn't hold.
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