ANAHEIM -- The Angels non-tendered infielder Gordon Beckham and starter Wade LeBlanc on Tuesday, as expected, saving $6 million or so in salary commitments for the 2015 season. Right-hander Yoslan Herrera, who was still three years away from arbitration, was also non-tendered, putting the Angels' 40-man roster at 37 players.
Beckham, a year away from free agency, was slated to make roughly $5 million through the arbitration process. That's too steep for the Angels, who are still less than $10 million below the luxury-tax threshold and would only use Beckham as a backup infielder. But they'd still be interested in bringing the 28-year-old right-handed hitter back on a smaller deal.
Beckham -- acquired from the White Sox on Aug. 21 -- never quite lived up to the expectations of his rookie season in 2009, batting .241/.300/.361 over the last five years. But he's a strong defender at second and third base, and the Angels, in the market for infield depth, feel comfortable with him at shortstop.
"We'd love to have Gordo back," Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "I think he's a great fit. For us, it would be as a utility player -- play a little second, a little third, some short. I think he knows that there would be a fit for that kind of player here. Hopefully we're able to find a common ground now that he's a free agent."
LeBlanc and Herrera were non-tendered in order to create flexibility on the 40-man roster, but the Angels would love to bring both of them back on Minor League contracts.
LeBlanc was with the Angels twice in 2014, coming over on a Minor League contract last offseason, then getting claimed off waivers by the Yankees in June, electing free agency after being designated for assignment two weeks later and re-signing with the Angels shortly thereafter. The 30-year-old left-hander posted a 3.94 ERA, a 1.15 WHIP and a 3.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 29 2/3 innings in the big leagues in 2014, and he was slated to make about $800,000 in '15.
Teams had until 8:59 p.m. PT on Tuesday to tender contracts to their unsigned players. With Beckham and LeBlanc now free agents, and Vinnie Pestano agreeing to a $1.15 million contract in early November, the Angels have seven remaining arbitration-eligible players.
Freese, who is slated to make more than $6 million in his final year of arbitration, offered up an intriguing dilemma for the Angels. The 31-year-old has batted .261/.330/.382 the last two years, way down from the .293/.372/.467 slash line he had in his All-Star season in 2012, and was taken out for defense late in games in 2014.
But Freese still managed an above-average 103 OPS-plus in his first year with the Angels, who have no clear replacement at the hot corner and considered the decision to bring him back a no-brainer. Freese can also be moved in a trade to acquire pitching.