As we approach August 1, we will preview what each team is projected to do in advance of the non-waiver trade deadline. For a complete listing of our previews, click here.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: 35-50, 5th in the AL West
The Los Angeles Angels have had a very uncharacteristic season. Going into the All-Star break 17.5 games out of first and 11.5 out of the wild card race has left many fans scratching their heads wondering where their team has gone. With four pitchers having missed most of the season with significant injuries and most of their bullpen potentially not making it to the end of the season, the Angels need to find young arms if they want to see October ball within the next few years.
What moves have they made so far?
Before the season, the Halos made bold moves to further the franchise. First, they made deal for Andrelton Simmons from the Braves. However, the benefits of this trade are a little contested. Simmons came at the hefty price of two three top prospects, and has barely showed much of a return on that deal. Simmons a force at shortstop, but his athleticism has not helped his lackluster offense. Simmons is controlled for five years, so there’s still time to decide on if the Angels won the deal.
In addition, Yunel Escobar was acquired from the Nationals in exchange for reliever Trevor Gott and minor-leaguer Michael Brady. The Angels pitching staff is already weak, so it didn’t make much of a difference to forgo a stronger bullpen for a better bat and bargaining chip. Escobar has contributed a fair amount to the Angels’ offensive, sporting a .310 average to this point.
Due to the many rotation injuries this year, the Halos have made two deals for starting pitching depth so far. They acquired righty Jhoulys Chacin from the Braves in early May, and then signed free agent Tim Lincecum to a one-year contract to the tune of heart of San Francisco shattering.
After having some impressive starts in Triple-A, fans were hopeful that Lincecum’s return to baseball would be both glorious and beneficial. If Lincecum could reinvigorate the skills that earned him two Cy Young awards, he could serve as a decent chip come the trade deadline. Sadly, the ship has both sailed and sunk. Weighed down by a 7.50 ERA alone, it’s doubtful any team would make an offer for Big Time Timmy Jim.
Are they buyers or sellers?
They Angels are likely going to be sellers, with veteran talent getting the boot. General manager Billy Eppler told the Los Angeles Times that the team wouldn’t be completely reconstructing their franchise like many others have chosen to do, noting that “it’s not in the DNA here to rebuild.”
The team doesn’t want to make drastic moves such as trashing most of their roster, and instead, aims to invest in their future success. Instead of wasting time on free agency, the Angels will turn their focus to players that could stick with the team through the long haul.
Eppler’s comments seem to rule out a full-scale rebuild (translation: trading Mike Trout), but that doesn’t mean the Angels won’t sell some veterans before August 1.
What moves could they make?
Lefty Hector Santiago has grabbed the attention of other clubs, including the division-rival Astros. But the Halos won’t cut a deal if it isn’t overwhelmingly worth their while.
While Santiago hasn’t brought in the best numbers this season, sporting a 4.93 ERA in 91.1 innings pitched, his value is greater in a weak market for rotation pieces. With another year of arbitration eligibility, it seems unlikely that the Angels will part ways with Santiago just yet.
Matt Shoemaker, while a valid chip, is also unlikely to be traded. After a rough start to the season and subsequent visit to Triple-A, Shoemaker came back to the majors in May with a vengeance. While a 4.21 ERA in 87.1 innings pitch looks less than impressive, it’s important to note that Shoemaker’s April ERA was 9.15. Oh, and in June? He boasted a 2.50 ERA and showcased impressive control over his splitter.
The hitch is that Shoemaker won’t be a free agent until 2021, so unless the Angels get an unbelievable offer, they’ll be holding onto Shoemaker for a while longer. Unless a pitching-starved team like the Red Sox comes along and blows the Angels away with an offer, Shoemaker will likely stay.
Relief pitcher Joe Smith has come off the DL from a hamstring strain just in time to be a valuable bargaining chip for the Angels. The righty will be a free agent at the end of this year, so the Angels could easily get rid of him and not worry about paying off anything in the future. The Angels could also shop Huston Street, though his struggles this year (4.67 ERA) make him less attractive to clubs in a strong relief market.
For position players, Escobar seems to be the Angels’ best chip. The third baseman has put up a strong season, and has already drawn interest from both the Mets and Giants.
Trout won’t be traded, and it seems like Kole Calhoun and Andrelton Simmons will stay put as well.
The Angels have one of the worst farm systems in baseball history, but do have enough potential chips to wrangle up a crop of young talent to having a playoff contending team for next season.
The likelihood of Escobar getting traded is beyond high. His bat is going to be an important addition to any team making a big postseason push. He could snag the Angels a top prospect to help build on by as soon as next year. The Giants, who could certainly make use of his power, are already pursuing his bat.
Smith is also probable to be a bargaining chip, despite his 4.45 ERA through 28.1 innings. Smith has had a lengthy career, and could still offer pitching depth. If he does end up in the hands of a contender, the team has a strong enough farm system that a deal including Shoemaker may snag the Angels some decent prospects as they begin re-tooling.