The trade deadline is approaching and the activity is really starting to get rolling. Thus far the Angels haven’t gotten anything done, but the feeling is that something will happen soon, possibly over this weekend. So, in order to hold you over until Jerry Dipoto works his magic, let’s take a not-so-quick look through all of the various trade rumors the Angels have been involved in this month.
Zack Greinke – He’s the best pitcher on the market by a pretty wide margin. The Angels have been linked to him for weeks and he should move soon now that Hamels is off the market. The only problem is that he could cost a ton. That’s bad for the Angels because they don’t have a ton of assets, but they do have enough, they just may not want to blow their wad on a guy who is a rental, which is normally against the organizational philosophy. He has given indications that he might be open to an extension with the Halos, but that isn’t something the Angels can count on. His high cost could be a good thing too though. Right now the main competition for Greinke is believed to be the Rangers and there is a school of thought (one I subscribe to) that the Angels are only chasing Greinke to drive the price up on Texas. Odds of acquiring = 30:1
Josh Johnson – Now that the Marlins are open for business, the sharks are circling around Josh Johnson, the Angels included. On paper, he is a great fit for the Halos since he is under contract through 2013 and, when fully healthy, one of the best pitchers in baseball. However, his health is still in question, making him a Kazmir-like risky investment. The other issue is that the Fish insist that they aren’t holding a total fire sale and thus are not going to trade Johnson… unless they get an offer they can’t refuse. Assuming the Angels have the pieces to make such an offer, the wisdom of making such a trade for a guy with such a big injury red flag is questionable at best. Odds of acquiring = 1000:1
James Shields – As you no doubt heard, the Angels got pretty close to making a deal for Shields, but it thus far has not come to pass. If it were going to happen, it probably would’ve happened by now. Hope is not totally lost though because the Rays match up very well with Tampa in trades, especially because the Rays supposedly covet Hank Conger. What that might mean is a different permutation of the deal is unearthed. Maybe Tampa gives up Jeremy Hellickson, Alex Cobb or Wade Davis. One thing I can say is that there is no good reason to believe in the rumored version of the deal that had the Angels getting Ben Zobrist while giving up Howie Kendrick. Zobrist is such a productive player on such a team-friendly deal that the Rays would be insane to swap him for the less productive, more expensive Kendrick. Odds of acquiring = 100:1 (for Shields), 40:1 (for one of the other Ray pitchers)
Francisco Liriano – The Halos have known interest in Liriano, likely because he is one of the less expensive options out there, likely costing just one solid power pitching prospect. But the reason he is cheap is because his performance has been wildly inconsistent. Basically, he’s having a season not unlike that of Ervin Santana. Trading for a left-handed version of Santana seems like a pretty stupid way of replacing Santana in the rotation. Odds of acquiring = 75:1
Another lesser known starting pitcher – For this entry think of names like Jason Vargas, Bruce Chen, Kevin Millwood, Joe Blanton, Joe Saunders, Paul Maholm or Clayton Richard. In other words, the field. None of these guys are difference makers but they are guys who can eat innings. Depending on how confident the front office is in Dan Haren the rest of the way, they might decide that they have a rotation good enough for the playoffs and just need someone to spare them from more Santana starts to make sure that they actually reach the post-season. This would be a very conservative approach for Dipoto and that just doesn’t match what we have seen from Jerry thus far. On the other hand, sometimes you just can’t land a big fish and have to settle for a small one. Odds of acquiring = 10:1
A right-handed power reliever – Every team wants more relief depth and the Angels are included. Given that they’ve suddenly become so attached to Kevin Jepsen, it seems clear that Mike Scioscia wishes he had another hard-throwing righty to use in the late innings. Wade Davis, Jonathan Broxton, K-Rod and Huston Street are all options here, but don’t go holding your breath. As we saw with the Frieri deal (something he likely learned from Kevin Towers), Dipoto has an eye for relievers, so he doesn’t necessarily need to chase a known name. The real complication though is that the Angels bullpen is pretty crowded, so just finding a roster spot to carry such a player is a feat unto itself. Odds of acquiring = 500:1
A left-handed relief specialist – That isn’t to say that the Halos don’t still have a relief need. The ineffectiveness of Takahashi and the recent struggles of Scott Downs have shown a glaring need for left-handed reliever that can actually get left-handed batters out, unlike Takahashi. A LOOGY isn’t crucial to their chase for a playoff spot, but a LOOGY would be awfully helpful in the post-season where the ANgels might have to face the Yankees or Rays who are lefty-heavy. Candidates here are Jose Mijares, Marc Rzecynzski and Joe Thatcher. Odds of acquiring = 5:1
No trade at all – There are a few reasons why the Angels might actually stand pat. The most obvious is that they don’t want to mess with what has been a good thing in recent months. Doing anything of significance could upset the team chemistry, if you are into that sort of thing. The more concerning issue is that almost every trade rumor seems to involve Peter Bourjos, even in deals for lesser pitchers. Dipoto sounds committed to only moving him in the right deal, but if other GMs insist that he be included, that could be a deal-breaker. The same goes for Jean Segura, to a lesser extent, as the Halos might want to keep him if they are secretly aware that Erick Aybar is going to be out for a significant amount of time. Finally, there are also luxury tax concerns. The Angels’ payroll is a bit north of $150 million, but the luxury tax threshold is $178 million, which wouldn’t be a problem if the luxury tax was based on current payroll and not the average annual value of a player’s contract. In other words, the Angels are limited by all the backloaded deals they gave out recently because they are pushing right up against the luxury tax and seemingly have no interest in paying any luxury tax. That means the Angels are going to have a hard time taking back significant money in a deal unless the other team eats a big chunk of the money or they somehow find away to subsequently unload Santana or (dare I say it?) Vernon Wells. I seriously doubt any of these issues are major roadblocks, but they will make maneuvering harder for JeDi. Odds of NOT acquiring = 100:1
This means almost nothing because I am not an insider, but dammit, I want to take a guess at what the Angels will end up doing anyway. Without further adieu, my predictions for the trade that the Angels will make:
- Hank Conger sent to Tampa for LHP Jake McGee. The Rays get their young, hitting catcher, the Angels get a young southpaw reliever with a big power arm. It probably isn’t what the Halos were hoping to turn Conger into, but it will do.
- Ervin Santana salary dumped to the Washington Nationals in exchange for a middling relief prospect.
- And the “coup de grace” in which the Angels upgrade the rotation by acquiring Matt Garza and cash in exchange for Jean Segura, Johnny Hellweg, Fabio Martinez Mesa and a player to be named later.
I am fully prepared to be 100% wrong on all three of those