It isn’t even July and the Angels are already starting to be mentioned in trade rumors quite prominently. This has become par for the course for the Halos during the Arte Moreno era, especially in the last few years with Jerry Dipoto in charge and showing himself to be more than open to making deals both big and small during the season.
This year is shaping up no differently as the Angels have been mentioned in, mostly speculative, connection to deals for David Price and Jeff Samardzija. Pitching! The Angels always need more pitching. Great pitching! The Angels always really need more great pitching!! These are great rumors!!! I’m beside myself with excitement!!!
But now I find myself in a deep depression. You see, I have this nasty habit that most denizens of the internet don’t: I actually think about what the Angels would have to give up to land one of these excellent players. The problem, from my perspective at least, is that the Angels have exactly two things to offer at the trade deadline: jack and shit.
That is only a slight overstatement. We all know that the Angels farm system has produced prospect crops about as well as the farms in Idiocracy. I don’t think that the Angels have been watering their prospects with Brawndo, but the results aren’t dissimilar. Looking at the progress of the Angels top prospects this year is quite disheartening.
Taylor Lindsey has struggled at Triple-A. Kaleb Cowart has fallen on his face at Double-A for the second year in a row. Mark Sappington flunked out of Double-A. Other prospects lower down on the list have raised their stock, but they are also in the low minors, which is not as valuable at the deadline as prospects that are close to big league ready. Even with their big styeps forward, nobody is going to consider Jose Rondon or Michael Clevinger blue chip prospects to build a major trade package around.
On the other end of the spectrum, the top prospects of the Angels that have succeeded have almost succeeded too much. C.J. Cron has more than held his own in the majors, making him a valuable trade piece, but can the Angels afford to let him go and leave Raul Ibanez all alone at DH? Mike Morin, Cam Bedrosian and R.J. Alvarez are all considered quintessential to the Angels bullpen evolving into something more than a massive liability.
That really just leaves them with Grant Green, Zach Borenstein, Alex Yarbrough and Eric Stamets as their upper minors trade pieces. You’ll notice that there isn’t a pitcher listed among that bunch. Pitchers are always the most coveted assets at the deadline and the Angels just don’t have much of significance to offer. That’s really going to limit the Angels’ options. To complicate things further, the Halos only have about $10 million under the luxury tax to work with, meaning that they have to be careful about how much salary they can take on and how much cash they sweeten the pot with.
None of this is to say that the Angels will be completely handcuffed at the deadline. With the pieces they have to offer, they can still shore up the DH spot by going after Seth Smith or Matt Joyce. Back-end starters like Jason Hammel or Brandon McCarthy should be in their price range. Any reliever short of an elite closer is attainable. But when it comes to the David Prices, Jeff Samardzijas and Huston Streets of the world are going to have to be left to the more prospect rich teams at the deadline.