Arte Moreno says Angels’ payroll will not shrink under new GM

Angels owner Arte Moreno wasn’t comfortable declaring during a videoconference introducing new general manager Perry Minasian on Tuesday how much money he intended to spend fielding a team in 2021.

But he was willing to make one promise: The Angels’ payroll will not shrink.

Moreno was on the hook for a franchise-high $184 million before the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out more than half of the 2020 MLB schedule, according to the Baseball Prospectus database. The opening day payroll in July was $71.2 million, the second-highest figure in the American League West division.

Moreno’s commitment to a hefty budget is good news for the Angels’ new top baseball operations executive, who spent about 40 minutes of Tuesday’s news conference from Angel Stadium discussing his hopes for the down-on-its-luck franchise he had been tasked to lead.

“One of the reasons this job is so intriguing [is] this is not a 100-loss team,” he said when asked how close the Angels were to winning. “This is not a five-, seven-, 10-year rebuild. This is going to be a competitive club. I think it’s an outstanding mix of veteran players. Some youth on the horizon, and obviously the manager [Joe Maddon] speaks for himself.

“This whole organization is on the cusp of doing some really, really great things.”

Minasian knows that to get there he will have to reimagine an Angels pitching staff that posted a collective 5.09 ERA despite encouraging performances from starters Dylan Bundy, Griffin Canning and Andrew Heaney.

“Pitching is first and foremost, and with pitching comes run prevention,” Minasian said. “And I think we can’t lose sight of that either. We have to play quality defense, we have to catch the ball. Catching [is] beyond important, game calling, game planning, positioning. All the things that entail run prevention, we’re going to attack.”

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