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Report: Angels could blow up bidding on Heyward

The Anaheim Angels could be a threat to the St. Louis Cardinals’ efforts to re-sign outfielder Jason Heyward.

A Fox Sports report identified the Halos as a likely suitor for the free agent fly chaser because of the combination of the club’s need for an outfielder and its reputation as a free spender.

The report says unnamed sources within the Anaheim organization “haven’t ruled out” making a run at Heyward.

Of course, the Angels need an outfielder because the free agent signing of Josh Hamilton was a total bust. Anaheim is still paying Hamilton more than $50 million over the next two seasons to play for its division rival, the Texas Rangers. (They also need an outfielder because of the trade of Randal Grichuk to St. Louis for David Freese.) Meanwhile, former Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols will continue to see his salary escalate by $1 million a year from 2016 through 2021 as he fades due to age. He’s owed $160 million in all.

Those two contracts ought to give Anaheim pause before they over-pay again.

Before the Angels pay raises to arbitration eligible players and round out their roster, they’re already on the hook for more than $130 million in 2016.

Still, as I mentioned a few weeks ago, their fans expect the team to invest heavily this off-season. One prominent Angels blogger suggested a $254-million, 10-year contract was in order for Heyward.

With the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers seemingly unwilling to dip into the deep end of the free agent pool, the likelihood of a ridiculous bid for Heyward is lessened. But it only takes one person to drive the market wildly out of control. And it wouldn’t be a surprise at all for that bidder to be Anaheim owner Arte Moreno.

The Cardinals have said they’d like to have Heyward back. But it’s unlikely the team is going to bid more than $200 million for a player some believe can be replaced with internal option Stephen Piscotty.

If St. Louis really wants to keep Heyward as a cornerstone player of the future, the team needs to make its best offer early and put it in front of Heyward with an expiration date. The longer he is allowed the shop the market, the more likely it is that someone will get an itchy trigger finger and make a ridiculous offer ala the Max Scherzer contract last winter with the Washington Nationals.

Besides, if Heyward won’t stay here for what will surely amount the most lucrative contract in Cardinals history, general manager John Mozeliak needs to know about it early enough to be able to make a move on other available players.