ANGELS POSITION PRESCRIPTION: 3B
In July of 2013, the Angels traded a serviceable 3B Alberto Callaspo to the Athletics for 2B Grant Green. Subsequent rumors explained that the Halos were on the verge of trading Howie Kendrick to the Dodgers for a prospect package including pitcher Zach Lee. Since that never transpired the Halos replaced Callaspo with David Freese, acquiring him and Fernando Salas for Peter Bourjos and Randal Grichuk.
Freese came with the usual past performance glory that Moreno-Carpin Inc. loves: he was a World Series MVP with a reputation for being clutch. By midseason it was pretty apparent that his defense was barely league average and Mike Scioscia got in the habit of subbing-in John McDonald at the hot corner late in the season. An early exit in ALDS game one bit Scioscia when a tie-breaking moment that would have been perfect - if only in literature - for Freese's October Clutch skills (illusions) did not arise because the 3B had already been subbed out in a conservative managerial stab at defense.
In 2014 Freese batted .260, has a .704 OPS and was no great shakes with the glove. If his 103 OPS+ was not mediocre enough for you, the fact that he got paid $5 Million for being a smidge better than AAA option Luis Jimenez should complete the indictment here. Jimenez batted .286 with some inflated power numbers in the thin air of Salt Lake and probably had a sloppier glove than Freese. However, if you saw Grichuk put on a show in the NLDS with the Cards and imagine what else Bourjos could have brought in a trade and note Moreno-Carpino Inc.'s obsession with staying under the salary cap, Jimenez was, in hindsight, the answer to the 2014 3B situation.
The Angels just waived Jimenez off the 40-Man roster and he was claimed by the Milwaukee Brewers.
In August, the Angels acquired infielder Gordon Beckham. Primarily a 2B he had come up with the White Sox as a 3B, starting 102 games there in his rookie 2009 campaign. He played thirteen games there with the Halos, starting there seven times - his first games at the position since 2009. His glove played mediocre - within shouting distance of Freese and a blip better than Jimenez.
David Freese will be a free agent after the coming 2015 season. So will Gordon Beckham, who earned a million dollars less than Freese in '14 and we can assume each will receive a raise of one to one and a half million dollars for 2015 in their final arbitration battle.
If the battle for 3B is between Beckham and Freese, the Angels might be wise to consider trading or even releasing Freese in favor of El Gordo. Beckham is hardly worse, is three and a half years younger (Freese turns 32 in April, Beckham just turned 28 in September) and is at least a million dollars cheaper.
There are no minor league alternatives on the horizon. No Halo Farmhand cracked a .300 bating average or had any power stats nor speed stats nor on-base stats to crack an open-minded Top 20 organization prospects list.
Chase Headley - Sure, just break the back - 4 years $50 Million.. think that is going to happen in Anaheim? Nope.
Pablo Sandoval - Be afraid of an aging player. Be terrified of an aging fat player. Be mortified of one with a qualifying offer that would cost the signing team a first-round pick.
Hanley Ramirez - An injury magnet might be available for less than you'd expect if stupidity is not ruling the major league roost, and a qualifying offer will really lower that price, but would it be worth it if I remind you he is also a malcontent?
Trade Freese, push Beckham in his contract year to show up with the glove but sign a McDonald-D type for later innings and invite a few outliers to spring training in the hopes of catching lighting in a bottle.
WORSE CASE SCENARIO: Would a multi-year Freese extension suck worse than a gargantuan contract to Panda?
BEST-CASE SCENARIO: Beckham delivers something more than a 110 OPS+ and is steadied by a late-inning D-Glove replacement
3B is a high-demand position and the Angels could get a nice piece or two for the farm system for the underperforming Freese.