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Don't trade the Cobbler! (Why the Angels need Matt Shoemaker)

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How will the Angels fix their pitching woes in the next few years?

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Angels are 18 games out of first place, 9 games back in the wild card race, and at the bottom of the AL West.  As much as the team will try to spin that they can still "turn this around", the Angels are fading fast, on pace to lose 94-95 game which is the most ever since Arte Moreno and Mike Scioscia have been on the scene.

Starting pitching has obviously been a problem this year, and I have already posted about how the Angels need to have a fire sale (even through the trade deadline is about 34 days away).  But how do the Angels fix this over the next 1-2 years?  Reports were out today that Garrett Richards and Andrew Heaney had mixed results from their latest exams.  Even if either of them avoids TJ Surgery, there is still a chance they could start throwing again only to end up going under the knife.  I think at best the Angels may get one of them back in 2017, but let's assume they both are out next year.

Below is a table with current pitchers on the roster along with age and year they are a free agent.  The bottom of the table shows some potential prospects in the pipeline.

Name Salary Age Free Agent
Jhoulys Chacin $1,100,000 28 2017
Jered Weaver $20,200,000 33 2017
Tim Lincecum $3,000,000 32 2017
Hector Santiago $5,000,000 28 2018
Matt Shoemaker $530,000 29 2021
Nick Tropeano $507,500 25 2022
Tyler Skaggs $514,000 24 2020
C.J. Wilson $20,500,000 35 2017
Andrew Heaney $515,000 25 2022 out for 2017?
Garrett Richards $6,425,000 28 2019 out for 2017?
Pipeline: Year Ready
Nate Smith AAA 24 2017
Kyle McGowin AAA 24 2017-2018
Victor Alacantra AA 23 2018 ?
Grayson Long A 22 2019 ?
Jaime Barria A 19 2018-2019

Realistically, the Angels shouldn't resign Weaver, Chacin, Lincecum, or Wilson (who may soon become a full time race car driver since he can't get back in the game).  Weaver best case comes back as a low budget middle relief guy (bullpen help is needed).  Lincecum probably becomes trade bait if he pitches well (though that clock is ticking), or the Angels may try to sign him if his price is low in 2017.

Without these guys or Heaney/Richards, this is your 2017 rotation (in no order):

Hector Santiago
Matt Shoemaker
Nick Tropeano
Tyler Skaggs
#5 starter???

Without Richards or Heaney back, the Angels still have a big problem in 2017.  Even with one of them, it's hard to get through a season with 5 starters (if 2016 has taught us anything).

Santiago could be trade bait, but unless the Angels get something really good for him, we probably need him for the 2017 rotation and can deal him in 2018 (plus, his current value is not great).  Shoemaker is definitely needed in 2017 despite the fact that he could fetch the highest reward.  The Angels needs to hang on to younger, controllable players over the next few years.

What else do the Angels do for their rotation in 2017?  Nate Smith could likely get a nod, especially if Heaney and Richards are out.  McGowin is another possibility but more of a long shot depending on how the rest of his 2016 goes, and how he does in his likely 2017 spring training invite.  The other guys really won't be ready in 2017 so the options are limited.

The free agent market for pitchers in 2017 is really not good at all.  We all know the Angels missed the boat on the 2016 free agent class of quality pitchers and outfielders.  Starters like Rich Hill, Bartolo Colon, Colby Lewis, Doug Fister, Bud Norris, Hisashi Iwakuma, Andrew Cashner, and Edinson Volquez are available this year, but most of them are aging and fairly high risk other than maybe Dough Fister who is 32 and putting up good numbers.  His 2016 salary is only 7 million, but it's hard to say what kind of contract he will fetch.

Personally, I would go with the 4 guys above + Nate Smith + a free agent like maybe Doug Fister.  If Heaney and/or Richards come back then you just help your pitching depth.  This all gets pretty difficult if you trade Matt Shoemaker.