It took nearly all month, but the Angels have reportedly started to pass their players through waivers in lieu of some potential late August trades. After all this waiting, will the Halos actually make any moves? We’ll just have to wait and see.
We’re all waiting on you, Tony? What’s it going to be? Trade or no trade?
When the standard trade deadline passed, it was generally assumed that the Angels would wait just a little while longer before starting to sell of spare parts via waiver trades, but it seems the Angels (just like me) couldn’t shake the notion that they could pull off a miraculous comeback in the division. Now that they are 10 games out, all hopes for that miracle appear firmly dashed (finally), so the Halos have begun the process of a potential minor fire sale.
Or did they?
Just because the Angels have started exposing much of their roster to trade waivers doesn’t necessarily mean that they are actually going to trade anyone. They’d have to swallow their pride first, and I’m not entirely sold they are capable of doing so.
For the most part, the Angels are fairly logical and rational in the way they run their franchise, frequently putting their personal emotions and loyalties on the backburner when making roster decisions. Just look how many fan favorite Angels have been kicked to the curb in free agency the last few years. However, one thing the Arte Moreno regime has never been a big fan of is looking like anything but a contender and selling off veterans is so very non-contenderish.
Trading away veterans with expiring contracts who you have little desire to re-sign would make a world of sense right now, especially when it comes to a guy like Brian Fuentes who could have real value to a contending team and return quality prospects to help build the Angels’s future. The same goes for pawning off expensive contracts on teams willing to claim the multi-year deals of Bobby Abreu or Juan Rivera for the sake of having increased financial flexibility for next season.
Therein lies the rub.
Making a trade now is all about the future for the Angels, a team whose mantra has long focused on the present. Any Angel fan knows that Mike Scioscia preaches to “take it one game at a time.” Such a philosophy can help his players focused on the task at hand, but if it extends to the front office, it can create a rather large blind spot to the bigger picture.
Selling off players for prospects and financial relief signals to the rest of the clubhouse that the present they have been so fixated on simply doesn’t matter anymore. That way of thinking simply does not compute in Mike Scioscia’s mind nor his locker room. At the same time, Scioscia and the Angel executives are very smart baseball and business people. They aren’t so narrow-minded as to think that they can’t ever deviate from their organizational philosophy on occasion. Now it is just a matter of finding a happy medium between making savvy roster moves and keeping a winning mentality alive amongst the remaining players.
That philosophical compromise likely means that the fire sale some had been hoping for isn’t going to happen. Tony Reagins will no doubt explore any and all possible deals to see which ones make sense for the team, but he isn’t going to deal just for the sake of dealing. After all, the Angels are a team that does well financially, so there is no urgent need to let perfectly serviceable players be stolen from them just to save a buck. What Reagins will do is move a player if he receives fair value for him. A guy like Hideki Matsui could be sold off for cash savings and little else, but that is the kind of move sad-sack loser franchises make as they scratch and scrape for every last dollar. The Halos aren’t about to sell out a highly respected and popular player like that. What they are more likely to do is trade Brian Fuentes because contending teams always want a bullpen upgrade, especially if that upgrade is left-handed. Or perhaps the Angels can take a philosophical stand and ship out a player who no longer fits the desired architecture of the team. Juan Rivera has been a decent player as an Angel, but his poor defense and fruitless situational hitting are the kind of traits the Angels appear to be trying to get away from. If any player is going to be given away at a discount it is him. A similar sentiment could be directed at Mike Napoli, however he has much more value than Rivera and the Angels know they can get more in return for him if they wait until the off-season.
In other words, if you are still waiting for the Angels to make a big splash on the trade market, keep on waiting. And with waivers taking 48 hours to process, we are all going to have to wait, even for the little splashes that may or may not come.