The trade deadline draws near and the Angels have become a trainwreck. It is nice that the team graciously decided to make the position of the team so clear going into the 31st, but fans appear to be less than thrilled. Indeed, the Angels community is riotous in the wake of losing 4 of the last 5 to the Orioles and Tigers. We here at Halos Heaven understand your pain.
However, the staff would like to offer solutions instead of complaints. In order to provide less-than-biased content, we reached out to Baseball Trade Values. BTV is a free-to-use site dedicated to establishing values to major league and minor league players with the purpose of putting to rest the age-old question of what is and is not an objectively fair trade. They are constantly updating their algorithms to reflect not only the talent, salary, and controllability of players, but even adjust these numbers according to the time of the year and the state of the market. The site is also very straightforward about its methodology and the explanations are in layman’s terms while the links are in plain sight on the front page.
The goal of this exercise is simple: to right the ship and make the Angels into either immediate or near-immediate contenders. Leveraging the team’s assets and depth in such a way as to both buy and sell at the same time is intended to be less of a lateral move and more of a reallocation of talent. If done properly, this could create the balanced system that has eluded the team for so long.
Are these going to happen? Of course not. Are teams going to evaluate players precisely the way this site’s algorithm does? Heck no! Did some people take it as seriously as others? I don’t know, Jessica. But did we have a blast doing this and should you check out the site? Definitely!
Now, let’s see how the masthead can do in only a few trades.
Note: Numbers are updated fairly frequently, so players might have slightly different figures depending on when the team member got around to creating the trade proposal.
I went into this with the intention of acquiring a few of what I see as top-of-the-rotation pitchers and focusing on dealing with rebuilding teams who would covet our position player prospect depth. For me, the key was attempting to acquire these TORPs while also holding onto top prospect Jo Adell. I will also try not to totally decimate the farm, but will mostly restock the system with arms by moving desirable assets as well as expendable ones.
Marlins get: Brandon Marsh (OF), Jahmai Jones (2B), Patrick Sandoval (LHSP), and Jose Soriano (RHSP)
Angels get: Caleb Smith (LHSP), Drew Steckenrider (RHRP)
Royals get: Jordyn Adams (OF), Trent Deveaux (OF), Jeremiah Jackson (SS)
Angels get: Brad Keller (RHSP)
Giants get: Matthew Boyd (LHSP), Griffin Canning (RHSP), Andrelton Simmons (SS), Kole Calhoun (OF), Tommy La Stella (2B), Kyle Funkhouser (RHSP)
Tigers get: Marco Luciano (SS), Heliot Ramos (OF), Alexander Canario (OF), Michael Hermosillo (OF)
Angels get: Matt Manning (RHSP), Franklin Perez (RHSP), Tarik Skubal (LHSP)
I started off by focusing on acquiring my two pet pitchers. Namely, Caleb Smith and Brad Keller.
Smith has been absolutely outstanding for the Marlins this year and I suspect that his trade value would be much higher if not for the injury he suffered earlier this year. The Marlins don’t seem too inclined to move him, but they haven’t shied away from quantity before. Furthermore, their starting rotation looks to be the real deal even without Smith at the helm. A package of solid prospects headlined by Brandon Marsh should at least generate interest. I don’t think that Drew Steckenrider is too terribly unrealistic of an add-on if the Marlins can be persuaded to move Smith at all. A solid reliever with high heat for the past two years, he went down on the 60-day IL with an elbow injury and is currently rehabbing. Both pitchers do not hit free agency until 2024. One thing that makes this sort of realistic is that both are also 28 years old.
Brad Keller is a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine. While never striking out too terribly many people, he does a great job of limiting home runs and very rarely walking guys. Interestingly, the Angels have struggled at both of those two tasks for years. Maybe that has something to do with it. Keller hasn’t been linked to too many teams, but the peripherals are indicative of a pitcher of a bygone era that will be criminally underrated. He has only just turned 24 years old. Trading away the two headliners of the 2018 draft to acquire him might seem a bit drastic, but Billy’s drafting tendencies suggest that the void will not be felt very long.
Finally, I swung a 3 team trade because I can. And yes, I gave Canning to get Manning. Matt Manning is the 29th overall prospect in baseball according to MLB.com and 35th overall according to Fangraphs. He is the Canning of the far superior Tigers system, and has an approximate floor of a number 3 guy. I would have liked to have gotten to their number 1 prospect Casey Mize, but that would have required trading Adell which I am not keen on doing. I also acquired two pitchers with modest expectations (still solid prospects) who have performed very well for lower level Tigers affiliates this season.
Meanwhile, the Giants received a value-depressed Andrelton Simmons, Tommy La Stella, and Kole Calhoun to aid in their postseason run. Their offense has been downright abominable, and Simmons and Calhoun will provide much-needed assistance here and now while La Stella will return in time to provide his bat down the stretch in September. The Tigers provided them with coveted Matthew Boyd to round out their solid rotation and former top prospect Kyle Funkhouser. The Tigers received two top prospects from the Giants in return as well as a mid-level guy and Hermosillo.
This does not solve the 2019 season, but it sets the team up nicely for the 2020 offseason by offloading Simmons’ contract and acquiring multiple arms. Matt Manning would join the team during September of the current season and immediately outperform his predecessor. In 2020, a free agent starting pitcher could be signed to round out the team. Assuming Cole like others do (even though I don’t think we shell out), the rotation would at some point not too far in the future look something like this:
Cole, Smith, Keller, Heaney, Manning with Suarez, Peña, and Barria as depth.
The infield situation becomes clearer, with David Fletcher, Luis Rengifo, and Matt Thaiss holding down the fort. Adell supplants Brian Goodwin when he’s ready, and the catcher problem is resolved for real this time in Free Agency.
It’s pretty clear than the main thing needed to make the Angels better is pitching. Especially starting pitching. In my scenario I targeted a couple different pitchers. First, we need more than one pitcher. Second, sometimes these guys don’t work out so by targeting two of them, I’m hedging my best that at least one of them will live up to expectations (hopefully).
Rangers get: Jordyn Adams (OF) and D’Shawn Knowles (OF)
Angels get: Mike Minor (LHSP)
The Angels would be giving up their #3 and #10 prospects in this trade. They are both outfielders but the Angels still have Jo Adell (#1), Brandon Marsh (#2) and Trent Deveaux (#13) as high ranking outfield prospects.
Mike Minor is only signed through 2020 but the Angels could be much more competitive next year with a better pitching staff and his 9.5MM salary is pretty reasonable (lower than both Harvey and Cahill this year).
Tigers get: Matt Thaiss (1B), Justin Anderson (RHRP), Jahmai Jones (2B)
Angels get: Matthew Boyd (LHSP)
I’m a fan of Matt Thaiss but the Angels are heavy at that position which also can be fairly easy to fill. Justin Anderson has his moments but bullpen arms are easy to come by, and Jahmai Jones is possibly blocked by Luis Rengifo and David Fletcher for at least a few more years. All those piece could be a huge boost to the Tigers system.
Matthew Boyd would be a huge get and is controllable through 2022 which easily could give the Angels 2-3 years of Boyd in their competitive window. He’s arbitration eligible next year and only making 2.6MM in 2019.
H. T. Ennis
Diamondbacks get: Jaime Barria (RHSP), Luis Rengifo (2B), and Jahmai Jones (2B)
Angels get: Robbie Ray (LHSP), Andrew Chafin (LHRP), Greg Holland (RHRP), and Money for remainder of Holland’s 2019 salary
With Tommy La Stella, Andrelton Simmons, and David Fletcher at second-through-third, Luis Rengifo doesn’t seem to have a position to play. This also allows Billy Eppler to focus on a Simmons extension. Jahmai Jones is extremely athletic and was drafted as an outfielder, although he can also play second base. Jaime Barria is a starter that gives more depth to the Dbacks rotation.
Robbie Ray is controllable through 2020 and is a nice strikeout pitcher that gives innings at the front of a rotation. Andrew Chafin is a quality lefty reliever, something the Angels lack. And Greg Holland is Greg Holland, but at least we get his salary!
Tigers get: Jo Adell (OF), Andrew Heaney (LHSP), and Matt Thaiss (1b/3b)
Angels get: Matthew Boyd (LHSP), Casey Mize (RHSP), and Bryan Garcia (RHRP)
Braves get: Kole Calhoun (OF) and Patrick Sandoval (LHSP)
Angels get: Kolby Allard (LHSP) and Grant Dayton (LHRP)
The objective here is to re-balance the farm system at its upper levels, drawing from a position of extraordinary depth (ie, athletic outfielders) to address a years-long deficit in starting pitching. Jo Adell may become a franchise star, but the Angels have a fine offense without him. On the other hand, they basically have to build nearly an entire rotation from scratch. While Adell is a near-can’t-miss positional talent, Casey Mize is as close to a can’t-miss blue chip rotation piece as one can find. Both Adell and Mize have dealt with some injury issues at the AA level this season, but it was not the elbow with Mize, and he’s young enough that it doesn’t yet worry me.
In Anaheim-born Kolby Allard, the Angels get a former first-round lefty who has dealt recently with a similar injury history as former first-rounders Skaggs and Heaney, but he’s 21 years young, clearly cost-controlled, and as a pitchability lefty, may quickly bring a similar profile as Jose Suarez to the back of the Angels’ rotation. Meanwhile, Garcia and Dayton provide two options for the elusive lefty in the pen that the Angels have lacked since Alvarez was shipped off.
There’s a sense in which Heaney-for-Boyd is a swap of like-for-like. Heaney has the better career average, and had the better 2018. But Boyd nevertheless comes with an extra year of control, has had the stronger 2019, and is on a positive trajectory. The Tigers have a longer rebuild ahead of them, so Heaney becomes a gap-filler at a minimum.
The Baseball Trade Value estimator shows these exchanges are theoretically fair, though there is obvious risk for all teams involved. Assuming everything works out, the Tigers get a franchise player in rightfield to replace free agent Nicholas Castellanos this winter, along with a lefthanded corner infielder in Thaiss who can play platoon partner with a declining Cabrera, and who offers more on-base potential and power than 3b Harold Castro. The Braves get an immediate replacement for lefty rightfielder Nick Markakis, who recently fractured his wrist, and is out for most of the season, and they can pick up the option on Calhoun if they want a longer commitment. Sandoval offers a heathier pitchability lefty to make up the loss of Allard.
For the Angels, they get a second frontline starter to pair with Ohtani in Mize, though it may take a year or so to realize the promise of that pairing. (I would shut down Mize for the rest of the season just to be safe.) In Boyd, they get a mid-rotation starter to pair with Canning, and immediate stabilization of the rotation to finish out the season. I don’t pretend that this is sufficient to make the Angels a contender in 2020, but in my optimal off-season scenario, Eppler acquires two from the set of non-Cole starter free agents that include Odorizzi, Ryu, Roark, and Keuchel – and goes hard after Grandal (who no longer has a QO to bleed us of second-round prospects). No $200m commitment to Cole, but imagine a rotation of, say, Mize, Ohtani, Odorizzi, Boyd and Canning by 2021, with several more depth pieces in AAA, and you can see how the Angels get to divisional contention on a one-year time horizon.
Angels get: Zack Greinke (RHSP), Robbie Ray (LHSP), $13 million
Diamondbacks get: Jordyn Adams (OF), Zack Cozart (3B), Trevor Cahill (RHP)
The Diamondbacks are a team looking to shed, and while Zack Greinke certainly isn’t an albertross, it would be preferable to bite the bullet to get him off the books. This accomplishes that, while getting Arizona a toolsy, athletic speedster who could conceivably fill in Chase Field’s center field for years to come.
The flip side is that Greinke at 35 is still quite the pitcher: both a 3.15 FIP and a 2.99 DRA place him near tops in all of baseball with the durability to match under contract for two additional full seasons. With salary maneuvers and cash coming back, Greinke’s 2019-2020 AAV comes out to $21.2 million, very reasonable considering he is projected for 200+ innings this year and a 4.8 fWAR, per Steamer. In other words, a frontline starter. The Angels also receive a year of Robbie Ray’s services, who has historically been a quality starter on a per-inning basis with strong bat-missing tendencies. He slots in nicely.
Angels get: Matt Boyd (LHSP)
Tigers get: Brandon Marsh (OF), Jeremiah Jackson (SS), Kevin Maitan (3B)
Tigers starter Matt Boyd has broken out in a big way this season, and with the Stroman deal setting positive precedent for buyers, it would be prudent to invest in a longer-term fit while the price is more than reasonable. Boyd has a 12+ K/9 and sub-2 BB/9 to pair with a 3.6 fWAR, Steamer having projected Boyd for an additional 1.2 on the season. He is frontline starter good, and controllable for three additional seasons.
You have to give to get, of course, and while it would have been possible to trade without surrendering Brandon Marsh, there is no way this deal gets done without him, in reality. The Tigers have SP prospects in droves, it’s position players they lack. The Angels have the opposite problem, so this is a happy medium. Jeremiah Jackson and Kevin Maitan head to the Tigers, too.
This would set up a rotation of Greinke—Boyd—Ray—Canning—Heaney with Felix Peña as a long reliever and Suarez/Barría as depth in the upper minors. That’ll play.