Friday, June 12, 2015

By Robert Cunningham, Staff Reporter - 

Author’s Note: Although Desmond Jennings isn’t the primary focus of this trade target article, he was mentioned as a possible option. However he just had knee surgery that will keep him out for approximately 8 weeks making his acquisition by the deadline very unlikely.

If the season ended today the Rays would claim the 2nd Wild Card spot in the tightly contested A.L. East. Notably the FanGraphs End of Season projections actually has them out of the playoffs.

No matter if the Rays improve or decline between now and the trade deadline, one player may be of great interest to the Angels and that player is Brandon Guyer.

Guyer, 29 years old, is a corner outfielder with speed, on-base ability, and pop that might be a good fit at lead-off or in the 2-hole for the Halo’s.

From 2011-2014, Brandon carried a .298/.364/.475 slash line in the Minors. In limited playing time in the Majors, over the same time period, Guyer has a .261/.327/.379 slash line.

This year, across 145 PA’s, Brandon is hitting .289/.361/.398 with increased playing time filling in for the injured Desmond Jennings (who notably might also be considered an Angels target for LF).

Another important note about his PA’s this year is that he is one of a small group of hitters that is getting on-base at an above average rate against both LH (.349 OBP) and RH (.377 OBP) pitching. Since 2011 in the Minors he has a .402 OBP vs. LHP and a .375 OBP vs. RHP.

Over the last two years Brandon has put up improved Line Drive rates (20.1% in 2014 and 23.8% in 2015) along with solid Ground Ball rates (50.0% and 53.3% respectively) which point to a change/adjustment/improvement in his hitting approach at the plate.

Finally Guyer is a smart base stealer. Since 2011, Brandon averaged an 81.6% SB% and in the Majors he has an 80% SB%. Over his entire Minor League career he was only caught 28 times in 161 attempts (82.6% SB%).

When you combine the on-base ability from both sides of the plate, the 15 HR potential, above average corner outfield defense, and the excellent base stealing ability, you have yourself a nice lead-off hitter which is a role that he has been recently doing well in Tampa.

Brandon will be entering arbitration after this year so this might be an opportunity for the Angels to add a significant piece without being totally gouged by the price tag since the Rays, despite his recent success, are using him in a 4th outfielder capacity.

The Rays moved Matt Garza to the Cubs in-part because Guyer was included in the trade so they know he has potential and is realizing some of that in 2015.

To acquire Guyer, the Angels would likely have to part with some combination of C.J. Cron, Chad Hinshaw, Bo Way, Natanael Delgado, and Adam Wilk. Obviously not all of them but 2-3 prospects depending upon their level and quality could make this happen.

Of course the Angels could go after Desmond Jennings who, for the first time this year in the Majors, was finally showing glimpses of the low strikeout rate (12.5%) he carried earlier in his Minor League career. The only problem with Jennings is that he still might suffer against RHP which limits his overall value.

Adding Guyer would only increase payroll, at worst, by $500K for 2015.
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