When the Angels traded veteran Howie Kendrick for Andrew Heaney last week, nine seasons of security at the keystone were jettisoned in favor of cost-controlled starting pitching. Angels GM Jerry Dipoto quickly went to work to patch the hole, trading for Josh Rutledge and grabbing Josh Featherston in the Rule 5 Draft, all while Grant Green sat atop the depth chart on the Halo roster.
So the odds are strong that the brain trust running this team is not going to want to create a hole in the lineup and on the field in two important infield positions. Despite the likelihood that he will make $6 Million in 2015 after arbitration, it seems the overrated contributions of David Freese will be gracing Anaheim with their presence all season long.
Freese was underwhelming in his first season with the club. His range at 3B is a lot less than the league average by all statistical comparisons. His OPS+ of 103 is nothing to write home about.
If the Angels were to find a way to trade Freese - even in a salary dump with nothing fancy coming back - would it be an impossible task to compensate for his bat and glove? Perhaps the combination of the two - it might be easy to get a cheap bat that can produce his .260 batting average, .321 On Base Percentage and .383 slugging. But finding a bat that can also play 3B, even at Freese's NEGATIVE-0.6 defensive Wins Above Replacement (dWAR or in this case, dWBR, "B" for "Below") might be the conundrum.
Mike Scioscia's solution last season was to pull Freese early and often - even after the sixth inning, Freese's bat would be out of the lineup so that John McDonald's glove could be in the field. It was a winning combination in September and there is no reason to think that the Angels will not be employing some combo of this should Grant Green get the nod to start at 2B with a hot bat out of Spring Training.
Which begs the question - if the Angels are set on on replacing Freese late in the game with a better defender, why not trade him now for something, anything, and find a better bat out there that can start games at 3B for the Halos at minimum wage. they have already saved $9 Million by trading Howie Kendrick. they can make it $15 Million simply by getting Freese somewhere else. and replacing his production with a platoon like the one that we all know Mike Scioscia will inevitably use.