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2015 MLB trade deadline preview: Los Angeles Angels

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After a 98-win season, the Angels are no longer top dog in their division, and are chasing the Astros and Rangers in the AL West.

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To say that the Angels season hasn't gone according to plan would be an understatement. After the A's fell apart during the 2014 season, the Halos capitalized on their opportunity, and finished the year ten games up on Oakland before being swept by the Royals in the ALDS. It was a disappointing finish to an otherwise fantastic campaign, but in 2015, the Angels have struggled to find any consistency, and as of today have a record of 38-38 and are third in their division.

While the Astros have a comfortable 5.5 game lead over the Angels, the division is still up for grabs, as is a Wild Card spot. Put simply, Los Angeles is in no way out of the playoff hunt, and will undoubtedly be buyers at the deadline. They have the game's best player in Mike Trout, and Albert Pujols has seemingly rediscovered what made him the best player in baseball for so long. They have pieces to build around, but will need to be active in trade talks if they're serious about making it back to October.

What do the Angels need?

Los Angeles is currently a middle of the pack team in almost every regard, and rank 19th in terms of offensive fWAR, while grading out slightly better at 14th overall for their entire pitching staff. They have a few ways that they can approach the deadline, but will likely need to address both areas to ensure they have the best chance of making the playoffs.

Offensively, their most glaring need is an outfielder. Matt Joyce has been a disaster, and in 218 plate appearances, he's posted a wOBA of .262, a wRC+ of 69, and an fWAR of -1.2. The Angels could also use help in the infield, as three of their starting four have a wRC+ of 100 or below. While Ben Zobrist's name came up before the season began, he ultimately wound up in Oakland, and forced the Angels to go in other directions. He'd be perfect for a team that needs help in both the outfield and infield, but completing a trade with an in-division rival may be difficult to swallow; especially for what amounts to nothing more than a rental player.

As for their pitching staff, it's the starting rotation that needs the most work. Jered Weaver isn't going anywhere with his salary obligations, but he's been incredibly disappointing this season, as has Matt Shoemaker. Hector Santiago has a pristine ERA of 2.86, but his peripherals suggest that he's destined for some regression in the coming months. The Angels called up top prospect Andrew Heaney earlier to make his debut with the team, and allowed just one run over six innings against the Astros.

If Heaney can prove to be effective, it would be a tremendous boost for the Angels, and allow them some flexibility when it comes time to acquire players at the deadline. They're not a likely landing spot for Johnny Cueto or Cole Hamels, but Mike Leake could be a name that Los Angeles targets.

One thing that will be working against the Angels however is their subpar farm system. According to Baseball America, they rank 28th in terms of their minor league strength, and have few impact prospects to lure other GM's with. They don't have much major league talent that they can part with, and will have to get inventive in trade talks. A recent report has linked the Cubs to the Angels, and while Chicago wouldn't be willing to give up any of the rookies on their 25-man roster, they have perhaps the most offensive depth of any team in baseball.

Jerry Dipoto will have to do something before July 31st passes, but with a weak minor league system, he'll need to flex his creative muscles over these next couple of weeks to put a deal together that can help his club make a push for the playoffs.