As we approach July 31, 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: 41-40, 3rd in AL West
After a 2016-17 offseason filled with shrewd hole-plugging and little money spent, there wasn’t much belief in the Angels actually contending this season. And when Mike Trout—the club’s only really fun and really good player—tore a ligament in his thumb at the end of May, that little glimmer of hope after a good start to the season seemed to be dashed.
However, the team has been surprisingly good since the league’s best player went down, with a 15-14 record right in line with their 26-25 record heading into their first game without Trout. Of course, a record that’s essentially at .500 isn’t great, and they’re one 5+ game losing streak away from being viewed as a team that could potentially sell. However, it’s hard not to salivate at the possibility of a team with Trout surrounded by a player fit for a contender.
What moves have they made so far?
The Angels have been quiet so far in terms of making transactions with other teams, but they have made a couple of smart call-ups in recent weeks in the form of Eric Young Jr. and Alex Meyer.
Young, of course, isn’t Trout. But he’s helped to solidify the lineup since his contract was purchased, posting a .286/.368/.440 slash with seven steals in ten tries, and he’s already hit three homers—just one off his career high.
Meyer has always struggled with his control, and with 32 walks in 491⁄3 MLB innings this year, he still is. But he’s allowed just four homers in that span while also striking out 58, helping to pick up the slack in a rotation that’s without Garrett Richards and Matt Shoemaker.
Are they buyers or sellers?
As I hinted at before, they very well could go both ways. It’s completely rational (if not correct) to want to contend when only one game out of a wild card spot. But, this is a team that’s had a poor farm system ever since Trout established himself. It’s a crazy American League playoff race that they could choose to remove themselves from and instead stock the bare cabinets of the minor leagues.
Notably, the team has a large amount of soon-to-be free agents that they could look trade if they sell, and altogether could get a good amount back. However, that statement could easily be flipped around: because they have so many players who’ll hit the open market in the fall, they should try to contend while they still have them.
Who could they trade?
The surprisingly good bullpen pieces like Yusmeiro Petit and Bud Norris would get something back as rentals. But they wouldn’t bring back any game-changing prospects, because they’re rentals and came out of nowhere to have the best seasons of their respective careers. Yunel Escobar would also fetch something decent—he’s earning only $7M this season and has been an above-average hitter by OPS+ for three years running, but his defense is poor and he doesn’t take many walks.
The man who could fetch the largest haul is Cameron Maybin. He’s OPSing .784 with an AL leading 24 steals in just 25 attempts, and he’s popped six homers with a 45:36 K:BB ratio to boot. And since coming off the DL on June 9th, he’s been on fire: .309/.365/.529 with 11 steals without being caught, and he’s doing all of it out of the leadoff spot in the lineup. For a team in need of a legitimate starting outfielder for the stretch run, Maybin would be a godsend and would net the Angels at least one legitimate prospect.
It’ll be hard for a team that will have a healthy Mike Trout a shockingly legitimate bullpen to sell pieces off, but I think the Angels are going to have to. They don’t have legitimate enough prospects to net anyone of real value to them at the deadline, and they’d need more than a couple of complementary pieces to get them deep into the playoffs. I don’t foresee a fire sale here, but all of the to-be free agents are fair game to be moved.
My guess is that the Angels capitalize on the value of Petit and Norris and trade both (assuming Norris proves he’s healthy by the deadline), while also trading Young, and maybe even Ricky Nolasco or Huston Street if they can find teams willing to pay a good chunk of the salaries each have remaining.
Maybin’s the tough one for me. If he keeps performing like he has, he could be the most dynamic if not best position player rental on the market. But, he could also line himself up for a qualifying offer in the offseason, and we all know full well that the Angels need as many high draft picks as they can get.
What I do know is this: Mike Trout will stay with the Halos, people!