Mike Trout just won his third MVP, has turned 27, and has made one playoff appearance when he was barely legal to drink. This was the fundamental drumbeat in my head as I entered into this offseason. Mike is not getting any younger. Also, the emergence of Adell is a factor since I believe he can be the everyday right fielder at some point in 2020. Accordingly, my goal in 2020 is a mighty resurgence making the playoffs and having a chance to make some noise in the playoffs.
A couple of preliminary matters
1) All suggested trades were put through the Baseball Trade Values site and approved as generally fair and acceptable.
2) I am frankly afraid of giving Cole the kind of contract he (and Boras)will require. His value has never been higher and it is going to require a substantial and risky overpay (in excess of $250 million) which I am fundamentally against even for a player like Cole. I do like "generational" type talent but am not sure Cole qualifies.
3) I considered trading Simmons but according to Baseball Trade Values, his trading value was minimal to none at all. This surprised me a bit but if that is indeed the case, I would much rather keep him. Given the low value published on the site (which has generally been a good source) I seriously doubt the Angels could get much in return for Simba. Accordingly, I (as GM) decide its better to keep him and maybe work on a 3-year extension.
4) I refuse to trade Adell as I plan to bring him up some point in 2020 as the regular right fielder. That said, I am willing to trade anyone else on the Farm to be ready to compete in 2020 with Maddon at the helm.
5) Finally - a qualifier, I think I will actually have more money to spend in 2020 than I am being given by. the Halo Heaven folks. I will address that at the end.
With that as an introduction, here is how I would
1. Trade Brandon Marsh, Jordy Adams and Jose Suarez to the Cubs for 3B Kris Bryant. The Cubs have indicated Kris Bryant is available and I am interested. This trade is considered equal value or slightly more favorable to the Cubs by Baseball Trade Values - Bryant has had a couple of decent but not unbelievable years and his cost is increasing so maybe that is why he is available. In any event, the Angels receive a huge upgrade at 3B with the potential for 5 WAR seasons - particularly with a much needed change of scenery. Bryant is somewhat cost controlled for 2 more seasons and will be reunited with Maddon. The Cubs receive the Angels #2 prospect in Marsh and a pitcher with considerable upside in Suarez. This adds approximately $13 million to the 2020 payroll. Bryant fits in nicely in the lineup batting 4th day after day.
Yes it costs our #2, #3 and #5 prospects but we get a solid and prototypical player at 3B which the team has not had since Troy Glaus.
Now - I don't know if the Cubs will do this trade (even though it is evaluated as fair (and even favoring the Cubs) by the Trade Evaluator but I certainly would try to do it as Bryant could be a difference maker in this lineup.
2. Trade Felix Pena, Matt Thais and Tommy La Stella to the Tigers for LHP Matt Boyd. I was a little surprised that this trade was considered fair by the Baseball Trade Values website. Angels receive a left handed pitcher with upside who is cost controlled for several more seasons. The net cost to the team is neutral.
3. Angels sign RHP Zack Wheeler to a 5-year $90 million contract. I like Wheeler and his cost is much more controlled (and requires a shorter commitment) than Cole. He is 29 years old and had a 4.1 WAR season in 2019. This deal could be structured to pay Wheeler less at the front side, so I am factoring it in at around $15 million for 2020. (AAV $18 Million)
4. Angels sign LHP Madison Bumgarner to a 3 year $45 million contract. Bumgarner brings all of the focus and bulldog competitiveness of Cole at less than half price and for a much shorter commitment. While he has lost a bit on his fastball, he knows how to pitch. He also adds another left hander to a staff that desperately needs it. His contract is structured to pay him $10 million in 2020 with bumps in 2021 and 2022. (AAV of $15 million)
These moves cost approximately $38 million in 2020 (a few more million than my budget) but they result in a huge improvement in the pitching staff and lineup.
Non-tender: Noe Ramirez, Luis Garcia and Nick Tropeano. These make up for the budgetary restrictions.
Pitching would project as:
(1) Wheeler, (2) Ohtani, (3) Boyd, (4) Bumgarner, (5) Heaney or Canning. There would be much needed depth and flexibility particularly with Ohtani.
Batting Order would project as:
Fletcher, Trout, Ohtani, Bryant, Upton, Simmons, Pujols, Goodwin/Adell, Catcher (when Ohtani was DHing)
Fletcher, Trout, Goodwin/Adell, Bryant, Upton, Simmons, Pujols, Ward (1B), Catcher (when Ohtani is pitching or off day)
With this plan, the team improves greatly by adding two left hand starting pitchers as well as Wheeler to go with Ohtani, Heaney and Canning. This pitching staff is likely 10-14 games better than the 2019 staff (at least).
The addition of Bryant gives the Angels a prototypical player at 3B who could add 5 WAR and bat clean-up game after game. The Angels retain their number-one prospect and while giving up Marsh, Suarez and Adams would hurt, getting Bryant in return (at a position of need for the Angels) would soften the blow.
I believe this team could compete for the playoffs and potentially make a run in 2020 and it would cost only around $35 million keeping me within reach of my budget.
Addendum: I believe the budget will actually be higher and, if it is, I do the above and also sign Grandal who would fit quite nicely into that lineup.