Outside of the fifth starter spot, the Angels Opening Day roster is set. This is the kind of thing that happens after you spend half of a gajillion dollars in the off-season to add free agents and lock up other players to extensions. It makes for great roster certainty, but not so much for spring training position battle intrigue. Sigh.
But wait! There is always the possibility that the Angels could take advantage of their depth and try and move one or two players out to shore up the back of the rotation, their middle relief or minor league depth. They won’t be blockbuster trades, but the Angels do have options at their disposal if they choose to exercise them. So who’s got to go?
Rich Thompson – I like Chopper. He is under-appreciated and underutilized. He is also Australian, which instantly makes him 20% more fun to have on the roster. What he isn’t is a player with minor league options left. With so much competition for the final two bullpen spots, Thompson could be traded if he loses out on those spots. I can’t imagine the Angels getting much of anything in exchange for him, but his 2011 season was good enough that he shouldn’t just get kicked to the curb. Odds are the Angels keep him, assuming he doesn’t fall apart in the next two weeks.
Bobby Wilson – He was a lot more likely to get traded before the Royals traded for a catcher yesterday, but there are a few other clubs out there that need a back-up catcher. Wilson is good defensively and dirt cheap, so teams will definitely inquire on him. He is also Mike Scioscia’s security blanket, so he could be tough to pry away, but everyone has their price.
Alexi Amarista – Everyone loves having a superutility bench player and Amarista has the makings of being a good one. He isn’t proven in the bigs, but his youth and potential could make him a nice piece for the Angels to move if they want to target a more reliable fifth starter or middle reliever. Maybe I am just drinking the Angel prospect Kool-Aid, but I can see an Alexi Amarista for John Lannan deal going down if the Halos are willing to eat all of the money owed to Lannan.
Maicer Izturis – Perish the thought, I know. Izturis is Scioscia’s teacher’s pet, but he is also in his walk year and it is highly unlikely that he is going to re-sign with the Halos. If the Angels move him now, they can get real value for him. I also said that three months ago when teams were falling all over themselves to overpay middle infielders, yet the Angels didn’t move him. The reasons they might change course on trading Izzy now is the presence of the aforementioned Amarista, who has been impressive this spring, and the desperation of a team like the Phillies who have had their infield ravaged by injuries.
Alberto Callaspo – If the Angels want to hold on to Izturis but still take advantage of the teams in dire need of a utility infielder they can offer Callaspo as a quality alternative. It looks like the Angels are committing to this whole Trumbo-at-third thing, so Beto’s role will be limited this season. The Oakland A’s supposedly are quite eager to get their hands on him. Callaspo is far from a great player, but the fact that he can play multiple positions and is under contract for two more years might make him the best trade chip the Angels have.
Bobby Abreu – Abreu might be the trade chip the Angels would most like to move, but his $9 million salary makes him the hardest to move. His recent bad attitude regarding how much he thinks he should play isn’t going to help either. And don’t believe what Angel management is saying about viewing him as a valuable piece, they are just trying to salvage his trade value. With Morales on the comeback trail and Trumbo still around as insurance at several positions, Abreu is a distraction they don’t need to deal with anymore. The only problem is that there is no obvious landing spot for him. The Orioles might be the only team that makes sense right now, but they haven’t shown much interest yet. That puts the Angels in the uncomfortable position of hoping for an injury to create a need for some other team so that they can dump Abreu.
None of this means that any of these players will get traded though. At this point I’d put my money on no trades, but a lot can change in the next two weeks. Stay tuned.