It isn’t often that a team can be both a buyer and a seller at the trade deadline, but it looks like the Angels might just be that special case this year. Now that they have fallen 8.5 games back of the Rangers, it is time for Angel management to start looking in earnest at the idea of selling of spare parts in order to continue reloading for a championship run in 2011. Tony Reagins nor Arte Moreno have given no indication that they are ready to go that route, but if they do (and they should), here is a list of current Angels who could be wearing a new uniform by this time next week.
All underachieving Angels are for sale. 50% off!!!
Hideki Matsui – If the Angels sell, Matsui is probably the first guy to go. He has an expiring contract, a lefty power bat and a bunch of playoff experience, so a number of AL teams should be interested. It certainly doesn’t hurt that he has started to heat up (finally), so the Angels might be able to get a modest return for him on deadline day as the teams that strike out on Adam Dunn start looking for Plan B (somebody get the Chicago White Sox on the phone).
Brian Fuentes – Angel fans pretty much hate Tito, so losing him won’t draw any tears in Anaheim a la Joe Saunders. As maligned as he is locally, Fuentes probably still has good value in the rest of the league, especially the National League. This time of year, every contender is looking for bullpen help, especially left-handed bullpen help and Fuentes would quickly become one of the top options out there and could be considered a cheaper alternative to paying the steep asking price that Toronto is asking for southpaw Scott Downs.
Juan Rivera – I’m not sure what kind of market there would be for Rivera since he is having a down year, but he has some extra value in this economy since he is signed through next season with a reasonable $5.25 million salary in 2011. He won’t be a difference maker for a contender, but he can help add lineup depth somewhere. The Angels might be motivated to move Rivera so that they can start taking a look at prospect Peter Bourjos in left field without creating a logjam in the outfield. And if the Angels can find some team that drinks the “Juan Rivera is a big second half player” Kool-Aid, they might actually be able to get some pretty nice value in return.
Mike Napoli – Out of all the players Tony Reagins could shop, Napoli should have the most value since he brings a power bat to the catcher position. I could very much see Detroit taking a long hard look at acquiring Napoli since they have a pretty bare cupboard at catcher, at least offensively, and since Naps is still under team control in 2011 via arbitration, his trade stock gets big shot in the arm that could return a nice bounty to the Angels. Who winds up playing first base for the Angels if Napoli is traded is anyone’s guess, but it shouldn’t matter much since they would be out of contention by that point.
Jeff Mathis – If Reagins chooses to hang on to Napoli, he should look to shop Mathis instead. He can’t hit, but he can field and that does hold value at the trade deadline as contenders look to build depth. Mathis will likely only be viewed as a back-up, so he won’t fetch much, but it would save the Angels from spending unnecessary money on giving him the modest raise he will be due in arbitration next season.
Howie Kendrick – This sounds a little crazy, but with Alberto Callaspo now on the roster, Kendrick could be considered expendable. Plenty of teams are sure to be interested in his services, and not just contending teams either. Kendrick still has two arbitration years left and is still young enough to have people believing that he will finally make good on his “future batting champ” promise. Don’t expect the Angels to look to swap Kendrick for prospects though. If anything, Howie could be packaged with prospects for an established slugger of some sort. I don’t know who that would be, but it isn’t out of the question. I do consider such a trade more likely to be pulled off in the off-season though just because nobody is looking to make veteran-for-veteran swaps right now.
Brandon Wood – Even if the Angels don’t become sellers, they are likely to be fielding offers for Brandon Wood who now appears to have no future in Anaheim. If they can get a box of batting practice balls for him, they should consider themselves lucky. Seriously though, the Angels might want to see if they can’t find some other team with a big bust prospect who wants to trade problems and see if they can’t turn that other player around.
The only remaining question here is what the Angels would want in return. Prospects are always nice, but the Angels are trying to set themselves up to be contenders again in 2011. On the other hand, they have almost no pitching prospect depth anymore and would be well served to restock that part of their system if they hope to have a future beyond 2011.
Given the timing of these deals, the Angels are probably going to have to settle for prospects since few teams are going to trading MLB players for MLB players at this point of the season. The Angels should really just then take the best prospects they possibly can no matter where they fit in the Angel farm system so that they can go into the off-season armed with a treasure trove of players that they can use to make big trades.
A fire sale isn’t going to be popular in Anaheim, but fret not. The Angels really don’t have enough time for anything that drastic, but I do think that they could move as many as two or three players from the list above. That still amounts to a mini-fire sale, but one small enough for fans to get over by the time free agency opens in the winter and all the Carl Crawford rumors fire up.