Friday, November 22, 2013

By Greg Bearringer, Contributor

There is an inherent conundrum with coming up with trade proposals, much less writing about them. On one hand, it is a really fun way to think about the issues facing whatever team you are thinking about without getting depressed since, by definition, you are fixing those issues. On the other hand, perceived value is difficult to overcome— my opinion of Mark Trumbo is a lower than most Angels fans, for instance.

One important thing to remember is that most trades have a winner and a loser, even if the reason why the loser makes a trade plays out exactly as they planned. The best example of this is the Royals-Rays trade from last year. I am pretty sure that Dayton Moore foresaw the trade  playing out roughly as it has so far (perhaps with the exception of Wade Davis). Teams do this all the time, and sometimes as a fan it can be frustrating to see a Jean Segura for Zach Grieinke trade go down.

With this in mind, here is my semi-realistic "dream" Angels’ offseason. By this I mean I am trying to think of trades which benefit the Angels, but are somewhat realistic. I might not walk this line as nicely as I think I am, but again— this is a dream offseason. Of course, I am operating on the idea that the Angels need to two starters and two relievers this off season while doing their best to replace what they give up. Using Alden Gonzalez calculations, The Angels are starting out with $14 Million to play with before they hit the tax. 

Note: My original piece had Erick Aybar going to the Cards in exchange for a package including David Freese, and Peter Bourjos getting traded for Ike Davis. However, with the trade this afternoon that sent Bourjos and Randal Grichuk to St. Louis for Frees and Fernando Salas, I had to make some adjustments to my piece.  I am ambivalent about the Bourjos/Freese trade, though I suppose seeing an honest-to-goodness third baseman might ease my concerns.  Still, I thought a healthy Bourjos was the quickest way of fixing the Angels defensive issues- and that pun was certainly intended.

(All contract information courtesy of Cot's baseball contracts; arbitration contract estimates come from MLBTradeRumors.)


#1: Angels trade Erick Aybar, Kevin Jepsen, and Alex Yarbrough to the Pirates for Charlie Morton, Andrew Oliver, and Alan Henson.

Salary Implications: Angels trade approximately 11.1 Million for approximately 5 million ($20.1 million below tax).

This trade might not be the sexiest in terms of 2014, but I think it has everything you could want. The real treat, obviously, Alan Henson, a guy who will probably play some next season and should be ready to take over at second or, with a less-erratic arm, shortstop in 2015. Andrew Oliver gives Jerry Dipoto the extra starter in AAA that he desperately craves. Charlie Morton? Well, lets see...
#2: Angels trade Howie Kendrick, Mark Trumbo, and Charlie Morton to the Diamondbacks for Tyler Skaggs, Didi Gregorious, and Trevor Cahill.

Salary Implications: Angels trade approximately 15.4 Million for 8.4 million ($26.1 million below tax).

This deal completes the Angels search for starting pitching and adds a young (if average) shortstop to boot. Trevor Cahill might just be a 4.00 ERA guy from here on out, but that is a marked improvement over what the Angels have going for them, and Cahill is young enough to have some upside above and beyond just being a #4 guy. Tyler Skaggs has the homecoming which Angels fans have dreamed of. Gregorius might not be the sexiest name, but his season he had roughly as much value as Aybar-- look it up.  This trade does create two new holes at DH/1st and 2nd, but I think there is some opportunity there for upgrades and— this is most important— the Angels have the pitching depth they have needed so bad. The Diamondbacks need an upgrade at 2nd and, for some reason, want a power bat in the outfield despite having a bunch of solid options there. 

#3: The Angels trade Chris Ianetta to the Blue Jays for Casey Janssen.

Salary Implications: Angels trade approximately 4.975 Million for 4 million ($26.075 million below tax).
This is pretty straight forward. Not really a salary dump, but the Angels have filled a pretty big hole in their Bullpen and the Jays get an offensive upgrade at catcher. The Jays have a pretty deep bullpen, what with all their young starters blowing out their arms and converting to relievers.

Free Agents:

Angels sign 2nd baseman Omar Infante for 3 years, 27 million (9 Million in 2014).
Angels sign C John Buck for 1 year, 2 Million dollars.
Angels Sign Corey Hart for one year, 8 Million with a 12 Million dollar option for 2015.
Salary Implications: Angels contracts worth 12.5 Million (4.475 under the tax).

Omar Infante might be a little over-paid here, but his versatility and general fit on a Scioscia-led team eases the pain. John Buck is not my first choice, but he's a veteran whose defense is good enough to counter-act his putrid offense. The only problem is that Scioscia might play him too much, but on the other hand he might be great for the staff.  Hart might get more than this, and it might be dangerous to sign another slugger with leg issues, but Hart would be a terrific filling in for Trumbo, as he has many of the same qualities-- but with plate discipline.

The new Angels line-up:

LF Calhoun
CF Trout
1B Pujols
DH Hart
RF Hamilton
3B Freese
SS Gregorius
C Conger/Buck
2B Infante

Starting Pitching:


Bullpen: Frieri (CL), Janssen, De La Rosa, Burnett, Berg, Blanton (swing).

That is a very competitive team in the AL West, depending on how well Pujols and Hamilton perform. It certainly will have replaced a tire fire in the heart of the rotation with Skaggs and Cahill, plus a solid prospect in Andrew Oliver to help back them up. This is about as good of a replacement for Aybar and Kendrick as we could hope for. 

The issues with the team mentioned above start with significant position player depth. Outfield depth would probably be JB Shuck-- who might be a great 4th outfielder, or might be the second coming of Reggie Willits. Next man up might be Collin Cowgill, which is sub-optimal to say the least. Uninspiring infield depth includes defensive whiz Andrew Romine and Luis Jiminez-- a mere AAAA player in this writer's humble opinion. Taylor Lindsey, CJ Cron, and Efren Navarro, and Alan Henson all offer some upside here. At least the bullpen in Salt Lake would be well stocked, with Jeremy Berg, Mike Morin, RJ Alvarez,  and Nick Maronde all potentially seeing time in Bees uniforms.  As long as Oliver doesn't make more than 10-15 starts, this staff has a higher ceiling and a much higher floor than last year's squad.

The other issue is that this team would be dependent upon rebound seasons from Pujols, Hamilton, Hart, Freese, and Cahill. Odds are that at least one of them, well, doesn't. Unfortunately, this season will be determined in large part by what Pujols and Hamilton do. If they combine for 38 home runs, 87 walks, and 245 hits again, the Angels would have to clone Mike Trout a few times over to make this team a contender. If they can party like its 2012 and up those numbers to 73 HR 112 BBs and 333 hits, the Angels will probably find themselves in the post season.

The next question which comes up is very crucial, “Do the Angels extend Trout?”  The soothes say "no.”  I am willing to bet, though, they pay him 1 million plus next season, because that is the absolute minimum it will take to not insult what is clearly a generational talent.  Of course, perhaps the real dream Angels off-season is a slight improvement in starting pitching and a Trout extension, since trading or losing him in the prime of his career just break this Angels fan's heart.
Love to hear what you think!

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