SAN DIEGO -- It's almost as if the entire industry is waiting for the Angels to shock us all again, to which Jerry Dipoto continually scoffs. There won't be any intricate trades to free up payroll flexibility, no late push to sign a big-name free agent, the fourth-year general manager reiterated on Monday.
"There are no secrets," Dipoto said. "There is no magic."
The "magic" came in the form of a 10-year, $240 million agreement with Albert Pujols in the Winter Meetings of 2011. The "secrets" manifested themselves in stealth talks with Josh Hamilton during the Winter Meetings of 2012.
These are the Winter Meetings of restraint and content for the Angels, who have almost all of their 98-win team intact.
Many have wondered if they could make a run at Jon Lester, Max Scherzer or James Shields, but they sound committed to staying below the luxury-tax threshold of $189 million. A prominent report stated that they're shopping C.J. Wilson, a trade that could be parlayed into a free agency splurge, but Dipoto said, "We haven't discussed C.J. Wilson at all."
"We are truly here attempting to augment our club in smaller ways," Dipoto said from his suite on Day 1 of the Winter Meetings. "If it spider webs in a different direction, it's something we will consider. But that's not what we're planning."
All that remains, Dipoto said, is signing more options for backup catcher and signing a backup infielder.
A utility infielder is currently the Angels' greatest need, with longtime Minor Leaguer Shawn O'Malley the only one on the organizational depth chart who can spell shortstop Erick Aybar in the Major Leagues.
Gordon Beckham, who was recently non-tendered, is the only free-agent utility infielder the Angels will consider. If not Beckham, who will probably test the market for an everyday job, Dipoto will look to acquire a backup infielder via trade, likely trading from his excess of right-handed relievers (Kevin Jepsen, Fernando Salas, Vinnie Pestano, etc).
Dipoto has talked to "multiple teams about acquiring that kind of player."
As for trading Wilson?
Dipoto vehemently denied that.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com attributed rival GMs in reporting on Sunday that Wilson is "available," and industry sources told MLB.com on Monday that a few teams have already checked in on Wilson -- though they were only interested if the Angels ate some of the money still owed to him.
"We have not picked up the phone and offered C.J. Wilson around to the league, at a reduced cost or any other," Dipoto contested, adding that just one team asked about Wilson shortly after the World Series and the two sides "never revisited it."
"We find C.J. to be an asset, coming off what has been his worst year as a starting pitcher. C.J. is an asset to our organization. He's been durable, pitches his innings, has averaged 14 wins a year since he joined the club. In conjunction with the other five starters we have, it gives us a nice degree of depth, and we're not dying to lose that depth."
Wilson is coming off his worst season as a starting pitcher -- 4.51 ERA in 175 2/3 innings -- is owed $38 million over the last two years of his contract and can block a trade to eight different teams this offseason. Those factors, not to mention what's still a robust starting-pitching market, make it very difficult to move him.
For the Angels, it would seemingly only make sense to trade Wilson if it freed up enough payroll space to then sign a frontline starting pitcher. Considering they're less than $10 million below the luxury-tax threshold, which continues to act as their spending limit, the other team would probably have to take on all of Wilson's remaining salary.
And that may require a little bit more than magic.
"We can sit here and dream about all different types of scenarios," Dipoto said. "At the end of the day, we like our team, we like the depth."