Tuesday, November 12, 2013



By Robert Cunningham, AngelsWin.com Staff Writer - 

Disclaimer: This trade discussion is purely speculative in nature and presents an unlikely example of how the Angels can improve their roster for 2014. FanGraphs WAR stat is used to help evaluate player value, but it is merely a useful guide for this analysis. This series of articles are meant to entertain, generate discussion and to show that there are multiple avenues to improve the team.

Teams Involved:

Note: This article is broke out into three different trade scenarios. The Giants are rich in pitching and there are multiple routes a trade can take.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
San Francisco Giants

Team Needs:

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim –

The Angels need pitching for both the rotation and bullpen. Additionally a possible upgrade at third base would be desirable. Team budget is a concern (even if Arte Moreno breaks the luxury tax threshold for 2014) so any trade would need to keep the team payroll relatively neutral. Improving their overall farm system is a secondary goal.

San Francisco Giants –

The Giants are primarily looking for a left fielder or first baseman. Brandon Belt can play either position so an upgrade at the remaining position is a goal. Also a left-handed reliever is needed to replace Javier Lopez if he doesn’t return.

It is also possible that the trade scuttlebutt regarding Pablo Sandoval might be true and, if that happens, the Giants could move Scutaro to third base and acquire a second baseman in trade or free agency. A back-end starter might be useful for the Giants as well. Team budget is a concern

Players Involved:



‘Adjusted Value Out’ takes the average WAR of a player, over the last three years, and makes minor adjustments for age (decline), scarcity (projected high WAR season), and whether they project to receive a Qualifying Offer.

Please note that prospects are, by nature, inherently cheaper in value. Top prospects, of course, are more valuable than ‘organizational depth’ type prospects and Minor League experience level is also reflected in their value.

Example: The Rangers traded Mike Olt (#57 on MLB 2013 Top 100), Justin Grimm, C.J. Edwards, and Neil Ramirez for essentially $5.1 million (1.1 WAR for 2nd half of 2013) and a half-year of Matt Garza. Although it was a deadline overpay for one mid-level star and three organizational players, it illustrates the point.

This prospect evaluation is reflected in the ‘Adjusted Value Out’ column in the chart above. Those players under contract that are likely eligible for a Qualifying Offer at contract end, which would net the controlling team a compensatory draft pick, adds additional dollars to their ‘Adjusted Value Out’ total.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim –

The Angels are coming off a disappointing season and know that in order to compete they need to acquire young, controllable pitching and one of the only ways to accomplish that is through trade of some of their position players.

One of those players is Howie Kendrick. Since early June there has been increasing chatter that Kendrick and the remaining two team-friendly years on his contract could be moved. It is also likely that Howie, at the end of his contract when he enters free agency, will receive a Qualifying Offer which would net a draft pick, increasing his value.

Mark Trumbo is also a player that the Angels might consider parting with in trade. Several teams are looking for a corner outfielder/first baseman and the Angels don’t really have a clear starting position for him in 2014. Trumbo is also likely to receive a Qualifying Offer before hitting free agency, netting a draft pick for the controlling team.

Kevin Jepsen is still affordable over the next two years and could be a candidate for the back-end of most bullpens. His time and consistency in Anaheim has been rocky and the Angels could move him in the right trade to give him a change of scenery.

Prospects Alex Yarbrough, Randall Grichuk, and Zachary Borenstein are young prospects in our system that could be moved in the right trade. Yarbrough is an up and coming 2nd baseman while Grichuk and Borenstein are rising stars in the outfield.

San Francisco Giants –

The Giants, winners of two World Series in the last 5 years, are looking to make the adjustments to put them back in contention for the 2014 season.

One comparative advantage the Giants have held, for years now, is the ability to develop quality pitchers. Currently they have a dearth of good prospects in Crick, Escobar, Surkamp, Osich, Stratton, Hembree, and Law.

The Giants front office has also expressed concern over Pablo ‘Kung Fu Panda’ Sandoval and his weight issues. The past two seasons have been a bit disappointing from the organization’s point of view, although it was mitigated by Sandoval’s excellent 2012 Game 1 World Series performance. Since 2014 is Pablo’s walk year the Giants might look at this as an opportunity to move him for upgrades in other areas. 

The Trades:



How Does This Improve Each Team?

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim –

Scenario # 1:

In the first scenario the Angels acquire a #3/#4 type starter in left-handed pitcher Eric Surkamp. Surkamp isn't a hard thrower but he is ready for the Majors this season after coming off of Tommy John Surgery in 2012.

Eric is more of a fly ball type which would work well in Anaheim with the Angels solid outfield defense behind him. Trading for Surkamp could preclude the Angels allocating money to Jason Vargas and allowing that money to be applied elsewhere (Tanaka?).

Josh Osich (AA) is a left-handed reliever that could act as depth or could even start the season on the Angels roster in an early relief role as a situational lefty to compliment Sean Burnett. Having him ease into the bullpen in low leverage situations would build his confidence.

Scenario # 2:

This scenario focuses more on acquiring left-hander Edwin Escobar (AA), a top pitching prospect. Escobar has a high ceiling and could settle in as a # 2 type in a Major League rotation.

Stratton (A), a right-hander, is a promising young pitcher who will take 2-3 years to develop. His future is bright and if his curveball and change-up continue to develop he will be a front of the rotation starter.

Ideally this scenario brings in two future front of the rotation types. We would still have to pursue targets such as Masahiro Tanaka and Jason Vargas in the offseason but this trade would have the greatest long term impact to our rotation.

Scenario # 3:

The grand-daddy of the three trades, this one is probably the least likely to happen.

Pablo Sandoval is in his walk year and will become a free agent after 2014. He has not lived up to his overly successful 2009 and 2011 seasons, sporting a 2.6 and 2.3 WAR over the last two years, respectively. If the Giants front office has truly tired of Sandoval’s conditioning efforts then moving him in trade could net them other needed pieces.

Sandoval would bring solid defense with a switch-hitting bat and good on-base skills. If he returned to his 2011 levels or even something close to it the Angels would probably be quite happy.

Although he would probably only be here a year, the Halos can accept it if he helps them into the playoffs, not to mention the compensatory draft pick if he refuses (likely) the Qualifying Offer.

The real center of this trade is young flame thrower Kyle Crick (A+). Although he still has command and consistency issues to work out he has easy upper-90’s velocity to go with a slider, curve, and a developing change-up. He is a potential front of the rotation workhorse if he can harness the walks.

Additionally the Angels would acquire Heath Hembree (AAA/Majors) who could slot into the Halos 2014 bullpen in a late-inning relief role, profiling as a future closer. He has an exciting mid-90’s fastball combined with a potential wipeout slider.

Finally Derek Law (A+) would be the final piece as a potential future bullpen asset in late 2014 and beyond. He is a possible late 2014 depth option and a potential 2015 (or beyond) bullpen piece.

San Francisco Giants –

In all three scenarios Mark Trumbo is the necessary piece. The Giants don’t appear to be fully confident in Brett Pill at first base so a trade for Trumbo, who could fill in for the next 1-3 years, could provide the bridge that they want and need for Pill to finish his development.

Mark would more than likely become the Giants new first baseman but could also play left field. He will give the Giants added offense and they could possibly sign him to an extension, keeping him long term, or serving as a trade chip at a later date.

Scenario # 1:

In addition to Trumbo the Giants would acquire prospect 2nd baseman Alex Yarbrough. Yarbrough would give the Giants a future option at 2nd base once Scutaro’s contract expires after the 2015 season.

Scenario # 2:

On top of Trumbo the Giants would receive OF prospect Randal Grichuk. Randal could be an eventual power-hitting replacement as a corner outfield in the next 1-3 years. It would give the Giants additional outfield depth in case something happens to Belt, Trumbo, or Pence.

Scenario # 3:

Although they lose Sandoval’s walk year they gain multi-controlled years of Kendrick in addition to Trumbo.

Scutaro could move to 3rd base, ceding 2nd base to Kendrick. Trumbo could take over 1st base duties while Brandon Belt slips into left field.

Jepsen could line up in a mid or late inning relief role and could take over late inning duty if Romo, Casilla, et. al. were to get injured. Also the Giants would also pick up Borenstein who could eventually replace one of the corner outfield spots at a later date down the road.

Conclusion:

Scenario #’s 1 and 2 aren’t too far off the mark in trade value. Scenario # 3 is debatable but not so much about the value but about the actual availability of Sandoval. His value can run across a broad range and I settled in on using 3.4 WAR. However, Steamer projects him at 4.7 WAR for next season even though he has averaged 2.45 WAR per year over the last 2 years.

Based on the previous two articles in this series there are two observations that are becoming increasingly clear:

1). Mark Trumbo is likely going to be traded based on the apparent demand for corner outfielders and first basemen across MLB. The demand for power hitters is high right now and his combination of controllable years and home run ability makes an offseason trade a near lock, barring a Bourjos trade.

2). There seem to be quite a few teams that are in dual-need of a 2nd baseman and corner outfielder/1st baseman or have the pieces necessary to shuffle players around the diamond to accommodate a Kendrick/Trumbo trade. It is debatable if they would pull more in trade together or individually.

For the record Trumbo and Kendrick are commodities that most would like to see stay in Anaheim. However we have to improve our pitching and Aybar and Bourjos aren’t as quite in demand as Trumbo and Kendrick. The market for the latter two appears to be shaping up nicely, which is why they are likely to be wearing other uniforms next season.


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