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Dipoto eyes open market with freed-up payroll

Dipoto eyes open market with freed-up payroll

Dipoto eyes open market with freed-up payroll play video for Dipoto eyes open market with freed-up payroll

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto summed up Tuesday's tough-but-necessary three-team deal this way: "Yesterday we needed to do something to solve our pitching, and now it's a matter of what we want to do."

By sending Mark Trumbo to the D-backs, the Angels gained two young, controllable left-handed starters in Tyler Skaggs, 22, and Hector Santiago, 25, while clearing about $4 million in payroll.

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Now they can really hit the free-agent market.

The Angels have roughly $20 million of wiggle room before hitting the luxury-tax threshold of $189 million, and Dipoto said they'll be "very aggressive with how we fill our pitching needs." The Angels have five Major League starters, but three of them -- Skaggs, Santiago and Garrett Richards -- have Minor League options.

They'd like to add a free agent -- Matt Garza is still believed to be high on their list -- and as Dipoto added, "It never hurts to create some payroll flexibility."

Dipoto said, "It's a pretty safe assumption" that second baseman Howie Kendrick, who has been shopped aggressively since July, will be on the team in 2014. The Angels also are still not willing to sign anyone tied to Draft pick compensation, which applies to starting pitching and filling Trumbo's void.

If they can't sign Garza -- or Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka, who may not be posted by Rakuten Golden Eagles -- the Angels may turn to the likes of Jason Hammel, Mike Pelfrey, Chris Capuano and Paul Maholm.

On offense, they figure to turn to low-cost, veteran bats -- particularly someone who can play first base or the outfield corners. Raul Ibanez, Jason Kubel, Kevin Youkilis, Michael Morse and Corey Hart, who missed the 2013 season with surgery to both knees, fit that description.

Dipoto also believes first baseman C.J. Cron, the No. 2 prospect in the Angels' system, could be ready to contribute toward the end of next season.

"Remains to be seen," Dipoto said of how he'll handle the DH spot. "There's so much that can happen. We are open minded, we have some flexibility. We do feel like we filled some needs within the pitching staff, and now we can go out and be creative with our other needs, because we do have that flexibility."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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