As the calendar has now flipped to June on the 2015 baseball season, many fans of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are becoming justifiably worried about their team. After an encouraging five-game winning streak to cap off the month of May that included a power surge from the offense to the tune of 20 home runs in 11 games, it was starting to look like the team may have finally hit its stride. Unfortunately, since that winning streak ended with a loss to Tampa Bay on June 2, the wheels seem to have fallen off again as the Angels have given all five of those games back with an ugly five-game losing streak that included an embarrassing sweep at the hands of the hated Yankees at Yankee Stadium over the weekend. The sweep at Yankee Stadium was especially disturbing as not only did the Angel offense go back into hibernation, but the starting pitching – which had been the team’s strength all season (they lead the AL with 33 quality starts) – fell apart as well as they collectively gave up 29 earned runs, including 10 home runs, in 24 1/3 innings over the five-game losing streak. That tallies up to an unsightly 10.73 ERA.
Looking forward, fans can reasonably expect that with a rotation as deep and talented as the Angels have, that part of the team should work itself out of its current funk. General Manager Jerry Dipoto, to his credit, made several moves over the offseason to address an area of dire need, which was organizational pitching depth. While he accomplished his goal of adding young, controllable arms to the Angels’ system and thereby creating an impressive amount of pitching depth, those arms did not come without a price. Dipoto was forced to make some difficult choices and sacrifice some on the offensive side to build that depth. Gone are former cornerstone players such as Howie Kendrick and Hank Conger. Josh Hamilton is also gone due to his own personal whirlwind that is the topic for another discussion. Dipoto tried to address these sacrifices through the acquisitions of players like Matt Joyce, Johnny Giavotella, Josh Rutledge, and Taylor Featherston, but so far things just haven’t seemed to click on the offensive side for the Angels, and their 28-29 record, sitting 5 1/2 games off the pace in 3rd place in the AL West, is certainly reflective of that fact.
All this being said, all is not lost for the Angels. In early June of 2009 the Angels found themselves at 29-29, 4 1/2 games off the pace and in 3rd place in the AL West. Howie Kendrick was sent to the minors for his lack of production, and the starting rotation had suffered a rash of injuries. That team was however able to pull out of their early season funk and play extremely hot baseball down the stretch to finish with 97 wins and the AL West Championship. Now, one could argue that the 2015 Angels really haven’t dealt with significant injuries, so their current situation may just be the result of a team destined to hover around the .500 mark all season long. While that is certainly possible, it would still only take the resurgence of players like Joyce, Chris Iannetta, and C.J. Cron back to their career averages to get this offense clicking again. Even so however, this is a team that was designed to have a power hitting lefty (Hamilton) hitting behind Mike Trout & Albert Pujols to provide some depth to the lineup. That’s where Jerry Dipoto comes in.
As we approach the mid-season trading season, there are several intriguing players that could potentially be on the market depending on how their teams perform over the next month or so. About a month ago, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register posted an article in which he named some of the players the Angels could potentially target in mid-season trades to help their sagging offense. What I’d like to do here is explore each of the players he mentioned a little more in-depth…
Adam Lind – OF/1B – Milwaukee Brewers
DOB: 7/17/83 (Age: 31)
Contract Status*: Year 6 of 6-year, $30.5M, 2015 salary = $7.5M. Club option for 2016 at $8M ($500k buyout)
Career Batting: .274/.329/.469
2015 Batting: .290/.364/.508
As the Brewers are having one of their more disappointing seasons in quite some time (20-37, 18 games off the pace & in the NL Central cellar), they surely look to be sellers at the deadline this year. Lind is an intriguing lefty bat, though his glove work in the OF is below average at best. He would need to be used as a DH or be replaced in the OF for defensive purposes late in games. It’s unclear what the Brewers would want in exchange, but given Lind’s attractive contract in relation to his production, they have plenty of leverage to ask for premium prospects – likely premium pitching prospects. There’s certain to be plenty of teams in the mix for Lind, so the Angels may not have what it takes to swing a deal for Lind. He will however be high on the Angels’ list, but he won’t be the only one, which leads us to…..
Ben Revere – OF – Philadelphia Phillies
DOB: 5/3/88 (Age: 27)
Contract Status*: Arbitration year 2 of 4. 2015 salary = $4.1M
Career Batting: .289/.323/.341
2015 Batting: .266/.310/.349
Revere doesn’t represent a power threat from the left side, but he is a scrappy slap hitter with excellent speed that the Angels could slot in atop their batting order, allowing other pieces to shift to possibly more desirable spots. Revere is largely considered an average defender, but his speed allows him to play all three outfield positions. At just 27 years of age and under control through the arbitration process through the 2017 season, Revere is also sure to be a hot target for several teams as we head toward the deadline. With the Phillies in the midst of a disappointing season (22-36, 5th NL East) and a payroll full of bloated contracts for aging players, they are sure to be looking to get younger through the trades they make, which means Revere, like Lind, will likely cost a prospect or two.
Brandon Moss – OF/1B – Cleveland Indians
DOB: 9/16/83 (Age: 31)
Contract Status*: Arbitration year 3 of 4. 2015 salary = $6.5M.
Career Batting: .247/.326/.462
2015 Batting: .245/.321/.478
The Indians, much like the Angels, have struggled to find consistency so far this season, but at 27-29 and just 6 games off the pace in the AL Central, they’re likely in a holding pattern to see how the next few weeks go before they decide whether to buy or sell. Should they decide to sell, Moss is a player they may look to move as he may net them a prospect or perhaps a similar MLB player with a lower salary and more years of control remaining. Moss represents a reasonable power threat, though he won’t be winning any home run titles soon. He can also play average defense at the outfield corners and first base. The Angels would need to decide whether Moss represents enough of an upgrade over Joyce to justify moving the player(s) it would take to land Moss.
Adam LaRoche – 1B/DH – Chicago White Sox
DOB: 11/6/79 (Age: 35)
Contract Status*: Year 1 of 2-year, $25M. 2015 salary = $12M. 2016 salary = $13M.
Career Batting: .263/.340/.469
2015 Batting: .239/.360/.400
While LaRoche doesn’t represent the outfield help the Angels need, he does represent a good power threat from the left side that could slot in behind Trout & Pujols in the batting order. Given what LaRoche is owed over this season & next and his age, the Angels may be able to acquire LaRoche relatively inexpensively. The White Sox are however another team in a holding pattern as they sit just behind the Indians, 7 1/2 games off the pace in the AL Central. Given the investments Chicago made to return to contention this year, they’ll likely be reluctant to sell.
Jay Bruce – OF – Cincinnati Reds
DOB: 4/3/87 (Age: 28)
Contract Status*: Year 5 of 6-year, $51M. 2015 salary = $12M. 2016 salary = $12.5M. Club option for 2017 at $13M ($1M buyout).
Career Batting: .250/.324/.464
2015 Batting: .223/.333/.418
Bruce may represent possibly the most attractive target on Fletcher’s list. At just 28 years of age and with another two years of team control remaining on his contract after the 2015 season, Bruce would certainly slot in nicely behind Trout & Pujols in the Angels lineup. Such an attractive commodity doesn’t come without a price however, and if made available Bruce could potentially become one of the hottest commodities on this summer’s trade market which would only drive up the Reds’ asking price. The Reds are a team looking to be trending toward the selling side of things as they currently sit at 25-31, 12 games off the pace in the NL Central.
Carlos Gonzalez – OF – Colorado Rockies
DOB: 10/17/85 (Age: 29)
Contract Status*: Year 5 of 7-year, $80M. 2015 salary = $16M. 2016 salary = $17M. 2017 salary = $20M.
Career Batting: .291/.349/.512
2015 Batting: .240/.320/.377
Gonzalez represents the biggest name on Fletcher’s list, and one of the most expensive, as by the trading deadline he’ll still be owed rougly $44M through the 2017 season. Should he made available however, the Rockies may be willing to eat some salary to move Gonzalez, and how much salary they eat will likely depend on the quality of the return they get. Gonzalez is however continuing a down-trend from his career norms that started last year and has continued into this year, so teams may be hesitant to offer top talent to acquire Gonzalez. The Rockies, even with their 25-30 record, are only 5 1/2 games off the pace in the NL West, so they’ll likely want to see how the next six weeks or so go before they decide how they’ll approach the trading deadline.
Andre Ethier – OF – Los Angeles Dodgers
DOB: 4/10/82 (Age: 33)
Contract Status*: Year 3 of 5-year, $85M. 2015 salary = $18M. 2016 salary = $18M. 2017 salary = $17.5M. Club option for 2018 at $17.5M ($2.5M buyout)
Career Batting: .285/.359/.463
2015 Batting: .282/.369/.494
While the general thinking is that Ethier has drastically declined from his former All-Star & Gold Glove status, the numbers certainly don’t support that hypothesis. Ethier is having a season right in line with his career norms this season. Even though the Dodgers are sitting atop the NL West and are obvious World Series contenders, they do have an outfield logjam with Ethier, Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford, Scott Van Slyke, and hot young prospect Joc Pederson all vying for playing time in a league that doesn’t use the DH. The Dodgers would obviously prefer to move Crawford or Ethier – the most expensive players of the group – in an effort to shed some salary. The Dodgers may be willing to take less in terms of players from a team willing to take on more salary in a trade for ether Ethier or Crawford.
Ryan Howard – 1B – Philadelphia Phillies
DOB: 11/19/79 (Age: 35)
Contract Status*: Year 4 of 5-year, $125M. 2015 salary = $25M. 2016 salary = $25M. Club option for 2017 at $23M ($10M buyout).
Career Batting: .265/.352/.525
2015 Batting: .245/.284/.495
Howard represents what is likely an option of last resort for many teams looking for a lefty bat. While the Phillies have publicly announced that they’d be willing to eat as much as $50M of the $60M owed to Howard to move him, he is still basically a shell of the player who won the 2006 NL Rookie of the Year and 2007 NL MVP awards. Even so, Howard could represent a change of scenery candidate, and at just $10M over the next two years, may be a worthwhile risk to some teams depending on the players they would have to give up.
The eight players listed here are by no means the only trade targets the Angels are looking at, but they do represent the most likely given the Angels’ specific needs of a lefty bat, preferrably with some power, who can play the corner outfield spots. Jerry Dipoto has however shown the ability to get creative at the trading deadline in the past, and may come up with something nobody expects. Nonetheless, it does seem pretty obvious that the Angels are going to need to add at least one more bat to get this sagging offense off the ground for more than a few games at a time. Fortunately, nobody is running away with the AL West so far, and with well over 100 games to be played the Angels certainly have time to make their run.
Who do you think the Angels should go after this midsummer trading season? Who do you think they’d have to give up to get that player? Give us your trade proposals in the comments!
*Contract information courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts