The different approaches the Angels can have at the trade deadline

The Angels employ the likely 2021 American League MVP and the clear-cut best player in MLB this year. Despite that, the Angels sit at just one game above .500 (50-49) and are caught in between being true buyers or true sellers.

This is a familiar tune for Angels fans, who have seen a similar pattern over the past decade of Angels baseball. The only difference is instead of Mike Trout being that clear-cut best player (he’s been on the Injured List since mid-May), it’s Shohei Ohtani, who leads the majors with 6.6 Wins Above Replacement (Baseball Reference). The overall point remains the same, however: the Angels have enough star talent on the roster to remain relevant but too many holes to be a true competitor. Add in a barrage of injuries to key players (Trout and Anthony Rendon are both out) and it further exasperates the issues.

The reality is the team, as currently constructed, is probably not good enough to make the playoffs. The roster as it currently stands is hampered by a disastrous bullpen, horrid defense, rotation depth concerns, and the Trout/Rendon injuries. Further making contention unlikely is the fact that the Angels are five games back of a Wild Card spot and have a 10 percent chance of making the playoffs according to Fangraphs. With the Angels 10 games back of Houston in the AL West and multiple teams in between the Angels and the second Wild Card spot, there just isn’t a high likelihood of the Angels making the playoffs.

Here’s the thing, though: you can squint and see a real contender on this roster with a Trout/Rendon return and an active trade deadline. Despite injuries to key offensive players, the Angels have a top-10 offense by both runs scored (475) and Weighted Runs Created Plus (107 wRC+). The Angels rotation has really stabilized (3.13 ERA in July) thanks to a strong trio of Shohei Ohtani, Patrick Sandoval, and Alex Cobb. A return of Mike Trout, some pitching additions, and a possible Reid Detmers/Chris Rodriguez promotion(s) could drastically change the fortunes of the Angels.

Time is running out, however, for the Angels to make some decisions before Friday’s 1 PM (PT) trade deadline. Given how the Angels are caught in between buyers and sellers, they could be one of the most interesting teams to watch in the coming days. With that in mind, let’s explore three different scenarios the Angels could explore: selling, buying, or something in between.

Option 1: Selling

If you strictly looked at the Angels record and playoff odds and didn’t have context of anything else, you’d be sure that they’d be selling. The team is five games back of a playoff spot with two months to go and has to leapfrog four teams to snag a Wild Card spot. They have a 1-in-10 chance of making the playoffs. A large chunk of the roster consists of impending free agents, some of whom have been plenty valuable (Alex Cobb and Raisel Iglesias) while others have been less so (Dylan Bundy, Kurt Suzuki, and many others). An analytical perspective would say to sell off all of your pieces to swap out as much short-term value for long-term value as you possibly can.

The issue with this? The Angels simply don’t have that many valuable pieces to sell. The aforementioned Cobb and Iglesias are clearly the best (realistic) trade options (Trout and Ohtani are not getting traded). Cobb is one of the 30 best starters in the majors according to fWAR (2.3). Iglesias is a legitimate high-leverage reliever boasting a top-10 strikeout rate (39.5 percent) and expected ERA (2.35). Both guys would fetch you a pretty nice return, especially if they were included in the same deal. Outside of those two, Andrew Heaney might be the only other semi-valuable trade piece for a team that thinks they can get more out of him.

If the Angels go for the straight selling route, they’re signaling that they probably just don’t have enough firepower to make a run this year. With a fully healthy Trout and Rendon, things could possibly be different but selling will be a serious consideration. If the Angels do go this route, they’re best-suited to completely sell off the impending free agents for as much as you can get. Replace them with your top prospects (Jo Adell, Detmers, Rodriguez) and other potential MLB role players (Packy Naughton, Matt Thaiss) and utilize the last few months to get a better idea of where you stand heading into the offseason.

Option 2: Buying

On one hand, it’s hard to view a team that’s five games back of a playoff spot as true buyers, especially since said team has not finished above .500 in a season since 2015. On the other hand, a team that employs Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout (possibly back soon) can always be viewed as a buyer. The individual talent on the Angels roster is good enough to be viewed a potential buyer, especially given what we know about the lack of trade chips to sell. While it’s a longshot for the Angels to make the playoffs, it’s not inconceivable for a team to erase a five-game deficit over the course of a few months.

Will the Angels be true buyers in the sense that they actively target short-term players who are impending free agents? Probably not. I don’t think there’s a Mark Teixeira (2008) or Zack Greinke (2012) trade in the works. What could happen, however, is the Angels trade for a collection of players who can help both this year and beyond. The Angels, obviously, need pitching and can acquire either short-term options (Max Scherzer, Jon Gray, Zach Davies, Brad Hand) or look to guys under control beyond this year (Kyle Gibson, Craig Kimbrel). It’s a pipedream but acquiring a frontline starting pitcher with club control like Germán Márquez, Luis Castillo, José Berríos, or Sonny Gray would obviously be fantastic. Whether any of them become available or if the Angels have enough trade chips to acquire them is a different story.

The point is the Angels do have the option of buying in the next week, whether that’s a long-term or short-term play. There are also varying levels of buying the Angels can engage in, like making a soft effort to remain quasi-competitive or making a clear win-now type of approach (say, a Jo Adell trade). The Angels being straight buyers seems like the least likely of these three scenarios but a hot streak heading into the deadline could change this.

Option 3: Hybrid of selling/buying

Here’s an interesting option the Angels could explore: being both sellers and buyers. Let’s say that the Angels like both Raisel Iglesias and Alex Cobb a lot but both have immense trade value or the Angels don’t view them as necessary beyond this year. You can maximize your return from a seller’s perspective by moving these two and possibly targeting close-to-ready MLB players. In addition, the Angels could trade all of the impending free agents who had a sliver of value (Andrew Heaney could have value). Gain as much value from the impending free agents as you can and target near-ready MLB prospects (or players in the majors).

At the same time, the Angels could be active on the buyer’s market to seek out options for this year and beyond. As mentioned before, the Angels have some options to acquire pitching for beyond this year. That could be a smaller move but perhaps they can swing a huge trade for one of those big, cost-controlled starters. The Angels can also beef up other positions of need, like a backup/partner for Max Stassi (Jacob Stallings or Mitch Garver) or a depth infielder (Rendon’s injury issues this year may be an issue moving forward). While selling off some pieces, the Angels could possibly buy enough strong pieces to have a better roster heading into the offseason. With enough luck, they could still stick around for this season.

In this scenario, you’re essentially retooling the roster going into next year. It’s not exactly signaling that you’re punting this year but rather acknowledging the slim playoff chances and looking more to 2022. By making these moves, the Angels could also open up the door for several players in the upper minors who could use some legitimate MLB time. Jo Adell could use a few months in the majors with everyday at-bats. Reid Detmers and Chris Rodriguez could get 8-10 starts in a MLB rotation. Even smaller moves like trying Matt Thaiss at catcher or plugging Hector Yan into the bullpen could be beneficial.

Fans may be turned off by the club not picking a clear direction but I’d argue this could be the best route. The Angels probably won’t make the playoffs but it’s close enough to embrace some sort of buying. At the same time, you need to acknowledge that 2022 is a likelier bet to make the playoffs. With the delayed returns from Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon, it further complicates the issues. If I’m the Angels, I’m going this route. Try to get value from your two most valuable (realistic) trade chips, buy some MLB players with club control, open up roster spots for your performing minor leaguers, and make a push to have a better 2022 season, with the outside shot that they can make the playoffs this year.

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Christianhanson
Trusted Member
2 months ago

They will do nothing because selling and trading pieces looks bad, and giving up prospects for rentals also look bad. So they will try for controllable pieces, which they won’t find, again leading to nothing happening which is the worst thing to happen imo.

2002heaven
Trusted Member
2 months ago

comment image
We couldn’t appear before The Oracle Of Delphi the day before the MLB Draft, because remember Arte’s too cheap!!!
LMFAO!!!! For GGOMP and his cult. 😝  😫 

Last edited 2 months ago by 2002heaven
AllenB
Trusted Member
2 months ago

Don’t forget about Bachman. He could be ready as soon as this year, according to some.

angelslogic
Super Member
2 months ago

All trade or no-trade conversation here is based on a razor thin hypothetical: that the players kept/acquired will be healthy the rest of this year, next year, and the year after that. If past is prologue, multiple Angels will be placed on the IL during that time period adversely affecting the strategies behind the moves.

gitchogritchoffmypettis
Super Member
Reply to  angelslogic

Wouldn’t it just be cheaper to spend all Arte’s money developing a time machine? Then go back and draft Brandon Woodruff?

angelslogic
Super Member
2 months ago

I like the 8 Ball or Ouija board method.

Cowboy26
Super Member
2 months ago

That be would be so cool. We could travel back to 1973 and witness young Albert Pujols first stick ball game

MarineLayer
Trusted Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Cowboy26

When he was a young lad of 28.

2002heaven
Trusted Member
2 months ago
Reply to  MarineLayer

Oracle of Delphi would’ve warned against the signing of AR.

ihearhowie3.0
Trusted Member
2 months ago

I see no reason why not to sell at least some stuff for AAA depth. A lot of guys will be called up from there in the next year and there is not much upper minors depth behind the above mentioned Marsh/Adell/Detmers/Rodriguez

AKA_rmhalofan
Member
2 months ago

I thought you were an Angels fan.

The most likely option, OPTION 4 – DO NOTHING.

Senator_John_Blutarsky
Super Member
2 months ago

“In a rare swap between division rivals who are both in postseason contention, the Mariners and Astros are in the process of finalizing a trade that would send infielder Abraham Toro from Houston to Seattle, tweets Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart adds that righty Kendall Graveman and recently designated-for-assignment Rafael Montero are headed to Houston. The Mariners will add veteran reliever Joe Smith in the deal.“

bradllee424
Trusted Member
2 months ago

The only player I would trade right now is Heaney. I would DFA about 3 relievers and find quick decent replacements. Being 5 out in late July is not the end of the world given Trout, Rendon & Upton have been out a considerable amount of this season. Please don’t do what Seattle just did, giving decent players to the Astros when they are only one game out of a WC.

Eric_in_Portland
Super Member
2 months ago
Reply to  bradllee424

wow, that’s one weird deal from the Mariners’ perspective

h27kim
Trusted Member
2 months ago

It actually makes some weird sense. Mariners are a longshot to make it far this year, even if they sneak into the playoffs. If I were JeDi, I’d try to build a more certain winner next year than make futile effort this year. Given reliever volatility, I’d probably consider Graveman more a valuable trade piece now than a future building block, so getting a quality young player back is a good thing.

What’s not clear is where Toro fits on Mariners, though. Their 1b picture for next year seems, eh, interesting.

bradllee424
Trusted Member
2 months ago

Look who is their GM.

Bariclaw
Newbie
2 months ago

I think we look to keep Cobb. I think it would still be nice to attempt to make a run this year. What would seal it for me, is if we could QO Cobb at the end of this year, since with the year he’s had, he’d easily surpass $19 million total value next year. But he got a QO previously, so no QO possible.

I think we only look to sell if a team overwhelms us with an offer for Cobb or DCell. I’m just not confident we’d get the big pieces necessary to make it worth completely giving up on the season.

I’m not interested in buying more than a bullpen piece or two.

Eric_in_Portland
Super Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Bariclaw

as far as we know, Cobb is this year’s Bundy. But maybe Perry and Joe have a different take.

gitchogritchoffmypettis
Super Member

Cobb is a little different. He throws an out pitch that is obviously not “sticky” dependent. He’s also basically the same type of pitcher he was in Tampa, not a total rebuild like Bundy. He’s most likely a 4.00 ERA guy long term.

Eric_in_Portland
Super Member
2 months ago

well then, sign him up.

h27kim
Trusted Member
2 months ago

The other Mr Churches is also a pending free agent and a useful trade chip, too, just wanted to add.

Jayman28
Member
2 months ago
Reply to  h27kim

Forgot that the Shortstop one is just on a one year deal, see what you can get from him. Then, move Fletch to shortstop and call up Stefanic for a tryout since he is raking it in AAA

Fansince1971
Super Member
2 months ago

My plan:

1. Sign DCell to 3 years, $33m type deal;
2. Trade Adell, Adams and Canning to Rocks for Marquez;
3. Trade Cobb for a couple minor leaguers;

There could be some additional smaller deals but this would serve the team very well securing a top closer for 3 seasons, a frontline starting pitcher who is team controlled through 2024 and maybe picking up a couple more arms for the minor leagues.

Jayman28
Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Fansince1971

What makes you think D-Cell won’t be another Huston Street if we sign him to that?

Fansince1971
Super Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Jayman28

He’s been good for some time now. 5 of his 6 seasons have been excellent. That’s consistent. Worth the risk for a genuine top-tier closer.

Jayman28
Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Fansince1971

I would do two years with a club option for a third

gitchogritchoffmypettis
Super Member
Reply to  Jayman28

So would, um, everyone…. and then a few teams would offer him at least three years.

Jayman28
Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Fansince1971

I know it’s a long shot, but, like the Yanks did with Alrodis Chapman, trade him for a high levek orospect and resign him in the offseason

Fansince1971
Super Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Jayman28

I think thats too risky for a team with this many holes

2002heaven
Trusted Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Fansince1971

Trade Rendon and then downsize to Marcus Semien for 3B he’s has a WAR of almost 5.0 this year and is on pace to exceed his near MVP season of 2019. Played 33 games for the WSox in 2014 ( Bottomline he can play there ) Has more RBI’s than Justin Turner and Rendon this year ( making $18M this yr on a one yr deal ). Many SS’s have moved over to 3B before, Ripken, A-Rod, Machado, and Didi Gregorius. 💪  💪 …..no more overpaid albatrosses PLZ!

Simba
Member
2 months ago
Reply to  2002heaven

Semien is only one year younger than Rendon. You want to buy the decline years of another older player? As soon as we sign him, we get 2020 Semien.

h27kim
Trusted Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Fansince1971

I like this, in principle. We are not really contending this year, but there’s no reason not to expect that the team won’t be competitive next year. But let’s see where the needs are, while we are at it:.

Rotation:.
It looks like we will probably have a combination of younger starters to take up the bottom 2 or possibly even 3 spots. If this deal goes through, though, there will still be need for 2-3 pitchers. The two way gig makes Ohtani less available than a regular pitcher. We will still need a better than avg veteran pitcher to hold #3 spot.

Bullpen:

We have no real alternative to going dumpster diving to fill out at least half the pen. I don’t oppose this, but I wish we could find arms than are more interesting than flawed.

Lineup:

Still not convinced that Stassi is a “full time” catcher. Given the absence of catching depth, a good “half time” catcher would be desirable (like what we were hoping Suzuki might be this year). Unless a combination of Ward and Thaiss could catch.

1b, 2b, 3b.:. Set

SS.:. Will we be able to sign Story, Seager, or Correa? Although Albert money comes off the books, I don’t know if there will be enough room in the budget. But the surplus of high quality SS should make less exp ones even more affordable.

OF:.

So Marsh in RF? Or, Marsh in CF and Trout to RF? I could live with that, but a quality defensive backup CF is highly desirable–iike Lagares or Eaton?

Bench:

For all the hate Ward got, I like him as a bench player. He can play all corners and atill catch, at least in theory. He is actually a pretty good hitter off the bench with speed to boot. As above, a good defensive OF would be essential (it would be nice if we could keep one or even both of Lagares or Eaton, but we probably won’t have roster space.). Someone who can play all around IF–specifically SS, would be desirable, but these pieces seem relatively cheaply available (eg Mayfield.)

So, given these, what trade chips have we left, after dealing Adell, Canning, and Adams, that is. for one, I don’t see a room for Rengifo on the bench. Does he still have enough trade value? If he could be dealt for next year’s version of Cobb, that will be very nice. We would still be left needing possibly one more starter and as many “interesting” arms as possible to fill out the bullpen.

BTW, whatever has happened with Felix Pena since he got sent down early in the year?

Last edited 2 months ago by h27kim
Fansince1971
Super Member
2 months ago
Reply to  h27kim

Pena is in AAA (Salt Lake) with a WHIP of almost 1.40. It’s been a poor season for him.

I agree with much of your analysis. Some of the holes will have to be filled in the off-season. I imagine Perry will completely revamp the bullpen.

My point in acquiring Marquez and extending Raisel is that 2 big holes get filled. I do not think Perry will resign Cobb or Heaney. So you are right, the pitching staff will need to be rebuilt a bit. But Marquez, Ohtani and Sandoval would be a great starting point. Maybe Detmers slides in there and don’t forget Suarez.

Off-season would be focused on maybe one quality starter (maybe Cobb) and rebuilding the bullpen. In essence the off-season rebuild of the pitching would begin in June rather than November. These moves would have a focus of 2022 and beyond.

Without these moves, Perry will have to find a closer and likely 2 starters and rebuild the bullpen in the off-season. That’s a tall task.

h27kim
Trusted Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Fansince1971

I think we’ll fill 2 rotation spots, 3 if we get lucky, with a combination of Barria, Suarez, Sandoval, Detmers, and Rodriguez. Not all will be available or good all (or any sign stretch of) 2022, so I think its safe to consider them at half a rotation spot (thus 2-3 spots to be filled by them, and they might be part of the bullpen picture if they don’t make the rotation, though.).

What I really like about your proposal is that it fills the biggest holes for which good options are hard to come by and way too expensive to fill, if at all possible, via free agency. If Perry has to get one potential top of the rotation starter with medium term value on the FA market, I don’t think he can make it. Them’s the people you trade for and hold on to, even at kings’ ransom (plural intended). I think we can get a mid rotation starter, good backup catcher, and a decent even if not AS SS fairly easily, though. WRT (at least half) the bullpen, I think dumpster diving is the only real option and i can only hope we are luckier/better at it next time.

Last edited 2 months ago by h27kim
Jim Atkins
Trusted Member
2 months ago

I don’t really like it, but trading D-Cell makes sense in view of the incredible volatility of closers year-to-year. I really like him, but I am kind of wary of how he will do next year. Bullpen aces are so incredibly unpredictable.

max
Trusted Member
max
2 months ago

Somewhere I think I read that after the trade deadline, extensions are not allowed, presumably until FA begins. True?

LAAFan
Trusted Member
2 months ago

I hope we start planning for 2022. Does that mean keeping and re-signing the Iglesias’? Heaney should probably be gone, Cobb is a close call.

Jeff Joiner
Editor
Super Member
2 months ago

One important thing to consider: this year’s free agent class.

We don’t have internal replacements for most of the people we lose. Ideally Detmers can take over for one of Cobb/Heaney, and we can slot C Rod into a long reliever role.

But beyond that we are picking over a rather bare pile of catchers and bullpen arms next year if we don’t trade for a couple of AA guys now.

2002heaven
Trusted Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Joiner

comment image
He’ll either be in the Bay Area or Wisconsin next season.
Because fixer uppers is what these teams do.

Fansince1971
Super Member
2 months ago
Reply to  2002heaven

I really dig how you end your posts with big statement sentences.

Jayman28
Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Joiner

Thaiss still catching in AAA, they can have him backup, even have Boomboom back up too

Jerseyhalofansince82
Member
2 months ago

My heart isn’t totally in on this. It it is the smartest move. Trade Adell for a young, potentially front-line starter. Marsh looks like the real deal and we have another year of Upton so there’s no real spot for Jo next year. A corner OF will be it easier to get than a SP. Packaging Cobb or Iglesias with Jo should net us an exciting SP of some sort. We’ve all had our hopes on Jo being a star next to Trout for years to come but I believe this is the smartest move.
P.S. – I’m not smart enough and too lazy to tell you which team this idea would best matchup with but I’m sure someone can let me know or tell me it’s a stupid idea.

Jeff Joiner
Editor
Super Member
2 months ago

Love the conversation starter but a pretty easy decision for me: let’s start 2022 right now.

I don’t expect Captain Jack to stay hot and carry what is already a thin lineup and likely to lose Walsh for a while. Even with Walsh our record vs. teams above .500 is dismal and we won’t get to play the Twins and Rockies forever.

Iglesias and Cobb are obvious candidates to move, especially in a package to someone like LA who has a deep system full of pitching and catching. If anyone wants Heaney, ship him off too.

I’d really like to spend the next two months getting good, extended looks as Sandoval, Suarez, and Barria. Let’s see how much starting depth we really need.

I’d like to see Yan get a good look in the bullpen and Wantz to get into more games.

We could sell but still have an interesting last couple of months.

gitchogritchoffmypettis
Super Member
Reply to  Jeff Joiner

Word.

FungoAle
Super Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Joiner

Huge

BigAinBendOR
Newbie
2 months ago

I’d like to trade for a starter with at least one year of control, maybe Scherzer but I don’t know who we’d trade, then bring up Detmers and Rodriquez. Trade Cobb and go back to a 5 starter rotation. Trade Iglesias and use Ohtani as our closer, rest his arm but keep his bat. Move Heaney to the pen. Oh and get bull pen help too. Oh and I’d be open to trading Stassi and picking up a glove first catcher since we will be getting Trout and Rendon back soon. Not sure if this is a good idea, but I think it makes us a seller, but buyers too.

Senator_John_Blutarsky
Super Member
2 months ago

Trade Heaney and Cobb; replace with CRod and Detmers. Shop Raisel, and if there’s a great offer – take it.

Buy if there’s a compelling opportunity, but waiting until the offseason may provide more opportunities.

BoyWithApple
Member
Trusted Member
2 months ago

It would be a complete waste for the Angels to trade away any of their interesting minor leaguers for a two-month rental in the hopes of making the playoffs this year.

A three-team trade, however, where the Angels give up minor leaguers in exchange for a player who would be under Angel control for at least two years and could help the team in 2023 would be a huge win for the Angels.