The Los Angeles Angels have reached the limits of their payroll flexibility, according to general manager Jerry Dipoto, meaning any acquisitions in the coming months likely would have to come via trades rather than free agency.
"We've had a fairly significant level of economic change the way our roster's come together," Dipoto said. "We've addressed the areas we wanted to address coming into this offseason. If there are ways to help our club along using creative ways, we'll do that."
After signing Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson and LaTroy Hawkins this winter, the Angels' payroll figures to rise roughly $20 million from its $142 million level in 2011, which was a franchise record. The Angels have recently been linked to ex-Philadelphia Phillies closer Ryan Madson, among other free agents, but Dipoto indicated such moves are unlikely.
The Angels do have a surplus of power-hitting first basemen that could prove valuable as trade chips in the coming months, but Dipoto said he prefers to hold onto Rookie of the Year runner-up Mark Trumbo and Kendrys Morales for now.
The Angels have penciled in Trumbo and Bobby Abreu as a designated-hitter platoon and Trumbo plans to work out at third base this spring to determine if he can get some at-bats at that position.
The X-factor is Morales, who slugged 34 home runs in 2009, but hasn't played since fracturing his left ankle in May 2010. Morales has yet to be cleared for baseball activities, but if he returns this spring, Dipoto acknowledged he could explore trades involving one of the first basemen or Abreu.
"We'd have to have a fairly compelling reason why we'd move either one right now," Dipoto said. "There are scenarios you could envision."
Mark Saxon covers the Angels for ESPNLosAngeles.com.