Eppler’s Domain: 40-Man, Trade Chips, Signings

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The time in the offseason to establish preliminary 40-man rosters has come and gone, and the Angels set their roster last week by adding a handful of newer players while dropping some others who have struggled or just moving on. The following players were added:

Nate Smith (LHP) — the club’s top pitching prospect is one of the next in line to join the Angels’ rotation in 2017, and could be another sleeper just as Nick Tropeano was. But the kid still needs to make his debut and throw pitches off the Major League mound in order for that to happen.

Keynan Middleton (RHP) — Despite his 5.38 career ERA in the minors, his 3.41 ERA in 66 innings in relief could push his stock as emergency bullpen help. Especially since the improvement may have been attributed to his fastball skyrocketing from the low-90’s to 100 MPH!

Austin Adams (RHP) — With a 3.05 ERA in 44 innings in the minors last season, and a 3.27 the year before, Adams could serve as an under-the-radar mid-season bullpen option.

Eduardo Paredes (RHP) — Where did this kid come from? You know, the Angels do get a lot of flack for the state of their farm system, and yet we keep finding effective pitchers coming out of the woodwork who never get any attention. Maybe it’s because they’re often relievers. However, with a 2.53 career ERA in the minors, this could be one of them.

In order to make room for these four hurlers, the club designated pitchers Jose ValdezBlake Parker and Abel De Los Santos for assignment, and outrighted infielder Rey Navarro.

Valdez, held a 4.24 ERA with a 95 MPH heater in 23 1/3 innings with the Angels in 2016. He still has a future with the Halos, but at age 26 the team wants to take a look at some of their younger arms.

Parker split time between the Mariners and Yankees this season, posting a 4.67 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings. He was claimed in early October, but as with Valdez, being 31 years of age is probably working against him. But more-so in Parker’s case.

De Los Santos was claimed from the Reds organization early in the offseason after putting up a 3.54 ERA in 20 1/3 innings at Triple-A. As with the pitchers added to the roster, there is some value here and perhaps just a matter of available space and not falling out of favor. Look for Abel to possibly contribute sometime mid-season in 2017.

Corresponding Moves

The Angels announced last week that right-hander Cory Rasmus and outfielder Shane Robinson were DFA’d, and then rejected their assignments, thus both electing free agency.

Rasmus, 29, is the younger brother of outfielder Colby Rasmus, and was arbitration eligible as a Super Two player. Rasmus showed promise as an effective multi-innings reliever with filthy stuff when the Angels won 98 games and the AL Western Division Title in 2014, but has dealt with several injuries since, resulting in a 5.56 ERA in 45 1/3 innings across the past two years. The nail in the coffin was perhaps the core muscle surgery he had in mid-July, and his continuing struggles in his brief stint with the Big Club in September. This was an arm that could’ve have solved a number of bullpen problems for the Halos. But that’s what happens when injuries take over.

Robinson, 32, tallied 111 plate appearances with the Angels last in 2016, and had a miserable .173/.257/.235 slash line. Not much else to say here.

So that wraps up the 40-man for now. Things will change, however, as signings and trades are likely to happen before Spring Training. There’s also a chance one or two of the players left off the roster will be selected in next month’s Rule 5 Draft. And the Halos could also pick a player of their own, which would push someone off. Time will only tell.


More From The GM’s Office

  • Shoe has bee targeted for a while now. Going back to 2014, teams have been calling about him, but of course the Angels were in a pennant race back then, were fighting their way back into it in 2015, and needed innings from starters this past season. But that may have paid off as Matt re-established himself as a tough hurler with a devastating sinker and very low walk rate.
  • Controlling the homeruns was the key, and that meant working to keep his sinker down, which he succeeded in doing. Now the Yankees are calling. The Twins have talked second baseman Brian Dozier. So the club could get some good long-term value for Shoe.
  • But in doing so, the Angels would obviously turn back to the starting pitching market to replace him. Not a bad thing necessarily since The Bearded One is mainly considered a mid-rotation innings eater. And the market is ripe with those types. This could serve as a sell-to-buy scenario, similar to the Mark Trumbo trade. Billy Eppler is a smart guy, so he’d probably pull a smooth one with this. If it happens.
  • Tyler Skaggs has also been mentioned in trade talks. He could be a more realistic option to center a package around because of his age.

  • Arica, 26, doesn’t have much to brag about with a .243 / .319 / .340 slash line in the minors. But this is another Eppler baby, as Francisco was with the Yankees organization to start his career. He was last with the Marlins organization until this past season. Basically an emergency catching option, and to round out the position at Triple-A Salt Lake.
  • Hernandez, 24, is another reliever the Angels could call on mid-season to help if anything goes wrong. With the Orioles organization his whole career, he’s been up and down with a 4.39 career ERA in the minors. However, a 3.67 ERA in 61 innings in 2016 could be a sign of progression for another failed prospect, for which the Halos have a reputation for maximizing value.