The offseason is nearly two months old and we’ve had very few meaningful MLB transactions.
Other than a handful of players accepting their qualifying offers (Marcus Stroman, Kevin Gausman) and a few second-tier signings (James McCann, Trevor May), it’s been a slow-moving winter. To the Angels credit, they’ve been one of the few active teams, swinging trades for Raisel Iglesias and Jose Iglesias and signing left-handed reliever Alex Claudio. With the holiday season in full swing, however, it’ll likely be weeks until we start seeing more major activity.
As Angels fans, we’re all well-aware that the club still needs to add multiple major pieces to the club, whether it be in the rotation, at catcher, or in the outfield. As a fanbase, many have been throwing out trade proposals for months now, including on this very site with the If I Were Perry Minasian series. Personally speaking, I have heavily utilized the website Baseball Trade Values, a fascinating website that assigns values to each player and lets you create your own trade proposals. While the site is not perfect and there are certainly player values you can gripe with, not to mention there isn’t team context included for trades, it’s a fun and accessible site to develop trade proposals. You can read more about their process for assigning player values here.
I messed around on Baseball Trade Values for a while and came up with some trade proposals that could net the Angels significant talent. As you’ll see, many of these trade proposals are rotation-focused and many of the trade targets will involve a high financial or prospect cost. Quite frankly, I decided to make an article out of this to develop conversations on the site and give us something to talk about. Full disclaimer: I am not advocating that the Angels make any of these specific trades or that the value is perfect for each one. This was mostly a byproduct of a boring offseason and a desire to see the Angels make a big move to improve the 2021 team.
Without further ado, here are some wild trade proposals courtesy of Baseball Trade Values.
Trade Proposal #1: Angels and Rockies
Germán Márquez might be the most valuable pitcher the Angels could acquire in terms of production, age (26 next year), contract (controlled through 2024), and projected value. In fact, he might be the most valuable player traded this offseason, period. In the 2020 Trade Value Series at Fangraphs, Márquez was ranked as the 22nd-most valuable trade piece in baseball, ahead of other potentially-available starters such as Blake Snell and Luis Castillo. In my recent piece looking at the top-10 starters the Angels could acquire, Márquez trailed only Yu Darvish and Trevor Bauer for the best 2021 projection. Long story short, Márquez is a bonafide beast and it’ll cost quite a bit to obtain him.
In addition to Márquez, the Angels also get a young, controllable starter in Kyle Freeland. In my opinion, I think the site is undervaluing Freeland, a 27-year-old starter with a career 119 ERA+ who is controlled through 2023. Regardless, the Angels are sending quite the haul to Colorado, headlined by their most valuable trade chip (sans-Trout) in Jo Adell. In addition, the site believes the club also needs to include two MLB starters (Barria, Sandoval), a fringe top-100 prospect in Adams, and a high-risk, high-reward teenager in Vera. I’m not sure this proposal is enough to get Márquez AND Freeland but if it was, this would be an immediate boon to the 2021 rotation.
Trade Proposal #2: Angels and Reds
This one is a tad crazy and unrealistic but it’s a scenario that fixes a short-term and long-term need in the rotation. Luis Castillo is apparently being brought up in trade talks and, unsurprisingly, the price tag is exorbitant. In that same Fangraphs Trade Value series, Castillo is the 32nd-most valuable trade piece in baseball. At just 28 years old and controlled through 2023, Castillo is an incredibly valuable rotation piece that will be relatively inexpensive for the next three seasons. Gray, who ranked fifth on my top-10 starters list, is a 31-year-old on a bargain deal ($32 million through 2023) and a top-15 starter in baseball. It’s hard to overstate how much obtaining one of these pitchers, let alone both of them, would help the 2021 team.
The likelihood of this kind of trade happening, however, is slim-to-none. The Angels would not only give up three legitimate MLB pieces in Adell, Canning, and Sandoval but they’d also have to include their top two outfield prospects in Marsh and Adams. It’s the type of trade that could be produce disastrous long-term results if one or both of Castillo/Gray underperform. But if the Angels are operating under the initiative to make the most of the Trout/Rendon window, adding Castillo and Gray for the next three seasons immediately makes the Angels a legitimate short-term contender. What’s more likely, however, is the Angels make a trade for one of these pitchers, not both of them.
Trade Proposal #3: Angels and Rays
Here’s why this seemingly crazy trade proposal could work for both sides. For the Rays, a team who is constantly swapping short-term value out for long-term value, they’ll shed roughly $25 million for the 2021 season. With the depth they possess in the upper minors and their ability to constantly re-shuffle the roster with success, this trade may be a boon to the Rays. It’s also not just a pure salary dump as Marsh is a legitimate top-75, near-big-league-ready outfield prospect and Sandoval is an immediate pitcher the Rays could use in multiple ways.
For the Angels, they get their young, cost-controlled frontline starter in Blake Snell, who immediately slots in as their number one starter in 2021 and beyond. The injury risk (history of arm issues) and innings limit the Rays put on Snell is a concern but his production, age (28), and contract ($39 million through 2023) made him the #30 player on the Fangraphs Trade Value list.
In addition, the Angels get not just one but two MLB outfield options. Small-sample size be damned, the Angels are coming off of the worst defensive performance of any outfield unit in baseball (last in both Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating). My not-so-hot take is that Mike Trout should be making a transition to right field, where he can continue to use his elite speed and be an asset defensively rather than a liability (he’s been below-average in three of the last four seasons). As he enters his 30’s next year, it’s probably time to slide him over to RF with the excess of CF options in the minors. In Kiermaier and Margot, they get a perfectly useful CF platoon that will provide above-average to great defense and decent offense. Notably, this gives the Angels a chance to drastically alter their outfield defense in 2021 and gives the club plenty of MLB outfield options.
Trade Proposal #4: Angels, Brewers, and Pirates
Here’s a trade that adds to positions of need across the Angels roster. Musgrove is a controllable starter who ranked ninth on my top-10 available pitchers list. Coming off of a mini-breakout in an 8-game stint, Musgrove has the ingredients and recent trends to possibly translate this success over a full season in 2021. Hader is one of baseball’s dominant relievers with a career 2.51 ERA and 44.1 percent strikeout rate. His price tag probably isn’t as high as many would expect, either, given that he’s about to make a ton of money in the next three years of arbitration. Stallings is a perfectly competent MLB catcher who gives the Angels a long-term option to pair with Max Stassi. The Angels would have one of the better MLB catching duos in Stassi/Stallings.
This trade obviously hurts the club in the long-term, with the inclusion of Marsh, Adams, and an intriguing high-risk, high-reward prospect in Kyren Paris. Fans may be hesitant to move Marsh and two nice prospects in a deal that doesn’t net the Angels a bigger fish but this move helps fill multiple positions of need for the Angels. Furthermore, this trade would only add about $15 million to the payroll in 2021, giving the club enough funds to go sign/acquire another starting pitcher. It also gives the Angels a potentially dominant back-end of the bullpen with Hader and Raisel Iglesias.
Trade Proposal #5: Angels and Cubs
If you’re looking for a deal that gives you the most immediate short-term value, this is probably your trade. What’s appealing about trading with the Cubs is they’re a club that is clearly looking to retool their roster, which makes more expensive veterans like Darvish and Contreras viable options. Darvish was ranked as the number one pitcher on my top-10 list, which is no surprise given that he’s been one of baseball’s best pitchers over the past decade. He’s owed pretty significant money for the next three years but $59 million for a clear frontline starter, albeit in his age 34-36 seasons, is completely fair. Contreras is one of baseball’s best catchers but is also about to make quite a bit of money through arbitration before hitting free agency after 2022.
For the Cubs, they not only shed significant payroll but they get a top prospect in Marsh and potential rotation options in Sandoval and Suarez. Cubs fans may want a bigger return for these two players but given that they’ll make a combined $25-ish million next season, the prospect return will be limited. For the Angels, Darvish gives them their #1 starter and Contreras adds another big bat at a position of need to pair with Max Stassi.
Trade Proposal #6: Angels and Cleveland
The Angels and Cleveland seem like an obvious fit given the never-ending pipeline of starting pitching talent that is produced in Cleveland. Add in their incessant desire to shed payroll and chop off talent from the MLB roster and that makes the Angels a clear fit. Heading to the Angels is a package headlined by Carrasco, who ranked sixth on my top-10 starters list. Carrasco carries more risk than others on this list considering that he’ll be 34 next year, is coming off of his worst walk percentage (9.6 percent) since 2014, and will make $24 million over the next two seasons. Civale gives the club a high-floor, low-upside controllable starter and Hedges is another catching option in the mix for 2021.
Marsh makes too much sense for Cleveland, given their desperate need for outfielders and the club’s desire to find controllable, young talent. Reyes, acquired in the Jason Castro trade with the Padres, is a volatile reliever with a blazing fastball but legitimately bad command. Out of MiLB options for 2021, Reyes feels like a potential bullpen piece that Cleveland can try to fix next spring.
Trade Proposal #7: Angels and Tigers
The Angels need young, controllable pitching and the Tigers have plenty of it. Skubal was a top-50 prospect entering 2020 and would add both talent and control to an Angels organization that needs it. Turnbull is an already-proven MLB pitcher who ranks 36th in SP WAR (4.3) over the last two seasons. By acquiring both Skubal and Turnbull, the Angels get two legitimate, controllable MLB starters and fill out their rotation for 2021.
The Tigers organization is loaded with pitching talent in the upper minors and in the current rotation. There is a clear need, however, for a blue-chip outfield prospect, which is where Marsh comes in. Marsh helps balance an organization that is depleted in position players and gives them a near-MLB ready option. Sandoval helps replace some of the traded rotation depth and Jackson gives them a high-variance lower-minors prospect.
*Cover Photo Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images*