Saturday, November 16, 2013

By Robert Cunningham, 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 is not a multi-team trade. Each of the trades would be separately conducted between the Angels and each, other, individual team in question.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Detroit Tigers
New York Mets

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 to the primary objective of contending in 2014.

Detroit Tigers –

The Tigers have multiple needs to fill including second base, finding a veteran catcher, another bullpen arm, and possibly a corner outfielder. Detroit’s owner, Mike Ilitch, wants to win now before he dies (he’s in his mid-80’s) and they have most of the pieces they need to make another solid run in 2014. Team budget is a concern and improving their farm system is a tertiary goal, at best, at this point.

New York Mets –

The Mets are looking for a corner outfield bat (or possibly even two), a shortstop, and possible insurance at first base and the backup catcher position. Additionally they would like to acquire a veteran back-of-the-rotation starter. Team budget isn’t a major concern and improving their farm system is a secondary goal.

Players Involved:

Note: For an explanation of the above chart and how player values are evaluated, please see my previous articles in this series, here.

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.

Erick Aybar might be the most painful of these players to part with as our replacement options, although defensively sound, are not offensively oriented like Erick. Aybar is a solid shortstop with a team-friendly 3 years remaining on his contract, making him an attractive option for a team in need.

Chris Iannetta also has two years remaining on his team-friendly contract. His positive value would allow the Angels to move him in trade and then sign a catcher who can hit left-handed pitching to backup Hank Conger, who would receive the lion’s share of starts in 2014.

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 giving him a change of scenery.

Prospect Randal Grichuk may not have a positional home on the big league roster, making him a trade chip for a team looking to add outfield depth in the near future.

Detroit Tigers –

The Tigers are coming off a tremendous season where they fell short in the playoffs. The owner went all-in last season and will probably do so again this season. 

Recently there have been rumors that the Tigers would be willing to trade one of their aces, Max Scherzer (or even Porcello or, as HBMike suggested, Fister), to fill their other needs.

Thompson, Suarez, and Mccann are all prospects in the Tigers Minor League system. Thompson (A) has good upside as a possible #3 starter in 2-4 years. Suarez (AA) is an above average, switch-hitting SS/2B prospect that has shown an ability to get on-base. Finally Mccann (AA) is a defensive specialist behind the dish.

New York Mets –

The Mets, despite the Harvey injury, are looking to intelligently improve this off season with the idea to contend in 2014 without breaking their farm system or lavishly dishing out free agent contracts.

Noah Syndergaard was acquired from the Blue Jays in the R.A. Dickey trade and he has improved even further since that time. He has the makings of a front-of-the-line starter and would enhance any team he is on.

Eric Young, Jr. was acquired from the Rockies back in June and has been a spark plug for the Amazin’s. Young has prodigious speed and could play at second base or in the outfield while switch hitting out of the leadoff spot.

Cory Mazzoni (AA) is a right-handed starting pitcher prospect who could develop into a mid-rotation starter in the next 1-3 years. He has excellent strike-out ability while maintaining a reasonable K/BB ratio (4.5:1).

Jake Leathersich (AAA) is a flame-throwing left-handed relief pitcher with some command issues. His strikeout ability is undeniable but he may need a little more time in the Minors to try and harness the walk rate. He could be in the Majors very soon though.

The Trades:

How Does This Improve Each Team?

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim –

The Angels, by moving Kendrick, Trumbo, Iannetta, Aybar, Jepsen and Grichuk, move a lot of salary off of the books to make room for the acquisition of several prospects and one year of Max Scherzer.

Essentially the Halos trade five controllable, MLB players and one prospect in exchange for a one year rental of a front end starter, one controllable MLB player, and six controllable, near-MLB ready prospects.

The net cash results of this trade, for the 2014 season, is a reduction of just over $13 million in 2014 team payroll after we pay the Tigers a little under $1 million and receive a little under $1.5 million from the Mets for 2014 only.

If the Angels win the bid on Tanaka, it would give them a starting five rotation of Max Scherzer, Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Masahiro Tanaka, and Garrett Richards which would be a big improvement over the 2013 pitching staff. Even if they don’t get Tanaka, signing Jason Vargas would still give Scherzer, Wilson, Weaver, Vargas, and Richards.

In addition we receive 2B/OF Eric Young, Jr. Young would likely slot in at 2B while providing roughly average defense. Eric sported a career .388 OBP in the Minor Leagues and he has blazing speed on the base paths with 46 steals in 2013. Although the OBP hasn’t consistently translated to the Majors yet he would be a potential option at the top of the lineup.

Also in the Mets trade we receive highly regarded pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard who could start in the Minors and would more than likely be one of the first called up in the event of an injury. He has a ceiling as a front-of-the-rotation starter.

Cory Mazzoni and Jake Thompson are also developing young starters who could be mid-rotation types in the coming years. They both have potentially high upside if things break right. Jake Leathersich is a left-handed strikeout reliever who has command issues but his ability to put batters away is tremendous.

Finally Eugenio Suarez provides a possible platoon partner for either Andrew Romine or Taylor Lindsey. He has above average on-base skills and would provide middle infield depth. James Mccann is a defensive specialist akin to former great Jeff Mathis which is sufficient in a backup role behind Hank Conger.

Detroit Tigers –

The Tigers deal from their impressive rotation by trading away Max Scherzer in his final controllable year and three prospects for two years each of Howie Kendrick, Chris Iannetta, and Kevin Jepsen.

To be honest a contending team like the Tigers shouldn’t be moving an ace like Scherzer but the overriding desire to contend in 2014 is pushing ownership to use him to acquire needed MLB players, of which the Angels have, to continue their run next year without increasing payroll.

As a side note Rick Porcello, and his 2 years of control, could be a possible substitute for Scherzer in this trade. Also, as HBMike suggested, Doug Fister, and his 2 years of control, might work.

By moving Scherzer and his predicted $13.6 million dollar salary, the Tigers acquire an above average second baseman, a veteran catcher to split time with the poor performing Alex Avila, and a bullpen piece that has closer potential.

The Tigers are “living in the now” and need actual, proven Major League talent to make a run at the title before Mike Ilitch, the owner of the team, passes away from advanced age.

New York Mets –

The New York Mets acquire a controlled starting shortstop in Erick Aybar along with a big outfield bat in the form of Mark Trumbo. Additionally they pick up 2013 Minor League Gold Glove winner Randal Grichuk as additional outfield depth.

This move improves their team offense and will allow the Mets to allocate their off season spending towards other needs. Rumors have been swirling that they may go after Ellsbury or Choo and filling two areas of need through trade gives them flexibility.

The two of them would eat up about 25% of the Met’s off season spending money and it may be possible and likely that the Mets extend either one or both of them to lock them in for an additional 2-3 years.

Finally, it also allows them to move Ike Davis in trade because they have Lucas Duda and even if he flounders, Trumbo could take over at 1st base if needed.


These two trades would accomplish multiple goals for the Angels despite the fact we are losing five Major League players.

Kendrick would be replaced by the defensively-adequate Eric Young. Young could hit leadoff and would be part of a seriously fast lineup. Aybar could be replaced by a platoon of Romine (vs. RHP) and Eugenio Suarez (vs. RHP) or perhaps even Tommy Field.

Trout would stay in left field, for 2014, while Peter stays in center field and rebuilds his value. A combination of Calhoun and Hamilton could patrol right field with Young being a potential 5th outfielder if we got bit by the injury bug.

A sample lineup might look like this:

Some of you may disagree with the choice of Eric Young but I think he has the potential to be a solid leadoff hitter based on his career Minor League .388 OBP. There may be better choices but Young would probably come cheaply as the Mets plan to use him as a reserve outfielder.

Having Calhoun hit behind him and in front of Trout would be a challenge for Kole but I think, based on what he did in 2013 and in the Minors, he is more than capable of putting up strong numbers out of the 2-hole, especially with the threat of Trout.

Most importantly Trout moves to the 3-hole in front of Pujols where he can do a tremendous amount of damage while still getting a large share of plate appearances. Mike’s multi-dimensional offensive attack would put incredible pressure on the opposing team’s defense. I could easily see huge production out of the top of our lineup using this configuration.

The five starters would be a top 5 rotation without a doubt. When you are slotting Weaver or Tanaka in as your #4 starter you know you are doing something right. Although getting Tanaka and trading for Scherzer is a real stretch both are certainly not out of reach.

The bullpen could be filled out with a free agent acquisition such as Crain in the closer role but the cast behind him contains multiple solid relief arms. This doesn’t even consider depth options such as Berg, Carson, Rasmus, et. al. that could substitute in case of injury.

Also the team speed would be pretty stellar. Young, Trout, and Bourjos are three of the fastest players in the game. Players like Calhoun, Romine, and even Hamilton are also hustle type players on the base paths which lends itself to the Angels previous style of play under Scioscia.

One final observation is that by not trading Bourjos we would allow him to rebuild his value so that if we fall short in 2014, we could potentially maximize the return in trade in 2015 and move Trout to center field.

Love to hear what you think!

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