Angels Free Agency Primer: Shortstop

Shortstop isn't a particular problem for the Angels heading into 2014 but that doesn't mean they shouldn't at least consider their options. Could they consider trading Erick Aybar instead of Howie Kendrick? Will they shore up the depth behind Aybar? Or will they just stick with the status quo?

What they already have: Erick Aybar (90 wRC+, 1.6 fWAR), Andrew Romine (70 wRC+, 0.4 fWAR)

If Arte Moreno loses his mind… he'll pay Derek Jeter $30 million for one year of Captain Jetes bringing the "Yankee Mystique" to Anaheim. Jeter will then proceed to deliver a -1.2 WAR season despite playing only 24 games due to a recurrence of his ankle problems. For the record, I am totally joking about this scenario, but I am also mortally afraid that Moreno might actually do this.

If the Angels are wildly aggressive… and borderline reckless they will opt to trade Erick Aybar instead of Howie Kendrick. Aybar is coming off of a down season, but this shortstop market is complete and utter garbage yet there are several teams (Cardinals, Yankees, Mets, Reds, Rays and Twins) that need to address their shortstop position in some fashion. Aybar is under contract for three seasons at a reasonable price and still in his prime, so while he may have had a bad 2013 and isn't quite an All-Star, he should be to fetch a commensurate package to Kendrick. It certainly helps that Aybar doesn't have a partial no-trade clause like Howie.

The problem is what the Angels would then do at shortstop, which is why this is such a dangerous move for them. Their only internal option is Andrew Romine, who might actually be a defensive upgrade but would be a big step down offensively even with Aybar's 2013 90 wRC+ as a baseline. They also don't have anyone in the farm system ready to step in before 2016 unless Eric Stamets or Jose Rondon develop in a big hurry.

That would leave them scouring the same barren free agent market that they were just taking advantage of by trading Aybar. The best they could do there is picking up Stephen Drew and hoping that he can stay healthy, which is always an issue for members of the Drew family, or taking a bit of a defensive downgrade in the hopes that a post-PED Jhonny Peralta can be an offensive upgrade over Aybar. Given the defensive issues the Halos had last season, forfeiting defense at one of the most important defensive positions seems like a pretty significant misstep. So maybe they can just sign defensive wizard Brendan Ryan and platoon him with Romine and hope that they can get by with those two.

The only other option here would be to find a way to swap Bourjos or Trumbo for a young shortstop prospect to plug into Aybar's spot. There may not be such a trade match out there though and it is a solution that involves a lot of shell game action by Dipoto to set it up right. Not that he can't do it, but it seems unnecessarily complicated given the alternatives he has at his disposal at other positions.

If the Angels want troll their own fans… they will bring in Yuniesky Betancourt because Yuniesky Betancourt exists solely to troll fans of the team he signs with.

If the Angels are savvy and conservative… they will hold onto Aybar but sign a reliable veteran back-up so they don't get burned with the likes of Brendan Harris again should Aybar get nicked up again, which seems likely. Adding the aforementioned Ryan or a versatile player like Willie Bloomquist would be a smart way to stock the bench.

What the Angels will probably do is… nothing at all. The risk of trading Aybar is just too great, so unless some other GM loses their mind and does something like offer Michael Wacha for Aybar, then it is doubtful they will seriously consider any offers for him. Unfortunately, I suspect they will also pass on improving the depth behind Aybar as well. They have bigger bench holes to fill than back-up shortstop and, frankly, Dipoto has never seemed to prioritize bench depth. Most likely that means Andrew Romine will land that assignment, which isn't the worst thing in the world, but it also isn't the best.

Garrett Wilson

About Garrett Wilson

Garrett Wilson is the founder and Supreme Overlord of and editor at The Outside Corner. He's an Ivy League graduate, but not from one of the impressive ones. You shouldn't make him angry. You wouldn't like him when he is angry.