By Robert Cunningham, AngelsWin.com Staff Writer -
Recently reactivated from the disabled list, Geovany Soto was having an impressive offensive season while providing quality defense behind the plate.
Below are Soto’s 2016 splits:
So clearly Geovany is destroying left-handed pitchers and basically hitting slightly below League average (79 wRC+) against righties.
The Angels signed Soto to a one-year deal for $2.8MM at the beginning of the season and it has proven to be a solid free agent signing and now, subsequently, a decent trade chip to move at the deadline.
In order to understand which teams might be good suitors for the Angels we need to examine which teams, based on our initial list of contenders found in the first article of the series, might have a need for a primary backstop and also which teams could potentially use a catcher who hits left-handed pitching well. The short list is below:
There are other teams that are borderline trade suitor candidates that include the Red Sox, Royals, Cardinals, Blue Jays, White Sox, Astros, Rangers, and Marlins. Any of these teams could be the dark horse in a Soto deal but they are comparatively remote compared to the three primary teams listed above.
Let us take a look at those three best fit candidates to see if they are really a match.
Primary Need(s): Back-up Catcher and Center Fielder
Secondary Need(s): Closer or Quality Back-End Reliever
When you pull up the list of Weighted Runs Created Plus, for team catching, on FanGraphs the first thing that catches (no pun intended) your eye is the Nationals at the very top of the list with the best overall offensive production, from the catcher position, in baseball.
So why would they need Geovany Soto?
Well it is pretty clear that Wilson Ramos has, in his last year of arbitration control before he becomes a free agent, established himself as the primary catcher in Washington, picking up the bulk of at-bats through excellent defense and wRC+ of 112 and 154 against LHP and RHP respectively.
The lesser problem is Jose Lobaton who has, in limited at-bats, played above average defense combined with poor offense including wRC+ of -81 and 91 against LHP and RHP respectively.
Clearly there is a scenario here where the Nationals would want a more experienced catcher to back up Ramos that can mash left-handed hitting while providing at least average or better defense.
Soto would be such an acquisition. It would allow Ramos to pick up most if not all of the at-bats against RHP with Geovany picking up all of the at-bats versus LHP creating even better and more consistent offense out of the catching position and giving the Nationals additional firepower in a playoff run.
Additionally if Ramos were to get injured Soto and Lobaton could split catching duties with the former hitting against all LHP’s and some RHP’s and Lobaton could focus primarily on hitting against RHP’s without losing a ton of production (Losing Ramos would be damaging to Washington though).
Nationals Likely Target(s): C Geovany Soto, RHP Huston Street, RHP Fernando Salas, and RHP Joe Smith
Angels Likely Target(s): A+ OF Victor Robles, AAA RHP Reynaldo Lopez, A+ RHP Erick Fedde, AA OF Andrew Stevenson, AA 2B Wilmer Difo, A LHP Taylor Hearn, AAA RHR Koda Glover, A 3B Kelvin Gutierrez, AAA RHP Austin Voth, A OF Telmito Agustin, A+ 2B Max Schrock, A RHP Andrew Lee, and AAA RHP Paolo Espino
1) Angels trade C Geovany Soto to the Nationals in exchange for AA 2B Wilmer Difo
Difo is a near-ready MLB 2B with excellent contact skills, speed, and solid defense at the keystone
2) Angels trade C Geovany Soto and RHP Joe Smith to the Nationals in exchange for A+ OF Victor Robles and AA 2B Wilmer Difo
Difo is as above. Robles is a young OF with excellent contact ability, above average all fields defense, and on-base skills who could be ready for big League action by 2018
Primary Need(s): Starting pitching, LH Starter, RH Starter, LH Middle Reliever, RH Middle Reliever, and Back-Up Catcher
Secondary Need(s): None
Another team you might not think immediately needs help in the catching department is the Orioles.
However when you scrutinize further you see how badly both Wieters and Joseph have hit against left-handed pitching. In fact their combined wRC+ is negative against lefties! Yikes!
Someone like Soto would be a solid boost to their backstop offense. Joseph is a good defender but if you move him into a reserve defensive role it will allow Wieters to play against RHP and Geovany against LHP mostly creating better offensive balance and not losing much on defense.
The Orioles need help with their rotation and bullpen, the most, but picking up a backup catcher that can mash lefties would be a boon too.
Orioles Likely Target(s): LHP Hector Santiago, C Geovany Soto, LHR Jose Alvarez, RHP Matt Shoemaker, RHP Tim Lincecum, RHP Jhoulys Chacin, LHP Tyler Skaggs, RHR Joe Smith, and RHR Fernando Salas
Angels Likely Target(s): RHP Dylan Bundy, A- RHP Hunter Harvey, RHR Mychal Givens, AA C Chance Sisco, A+ OF D.J. Stewart, AAA 1B Trey Mancini, A+ C Jonah Heim, A+ LHR Tanner Scott, RHP Tyler Wilson, RHR Oliver Drake, AAA LHP Ariel Miranda, AAA RHP Joe Gunkel, and AA LHP John Means
1. Angels trade C Geovany Soto to the Orioles in exchange for RHR Oliver Drake
Drake is a potential back-end reliever that could become a candidate for closer duties in Anaheim
2. Angels trade C Geovany Soto and LHR Jose Alvarez to the Orioles in exchange for RHR Oliver Drake and A+ LHR Tanner Scott
Drake is as above. Scott is a reliever that spits hot fire at 100 mph as a lefty with back-end bullpen written all over him.
3. Angels trade LHP Hector Santiago, C Geovany Soto, LHR Jose Alvarez, and RHR Joe Smith to the Orioles in exchange for RHP Dylan Bundy, RHR Oliver Drake, and A+ LHR Tanner Scott.
Angels absorb Santiago’s and Smith’s remaining $2.5MM and $2.75MM 2016 salaries. Bundy is a former top prospect that has been used primarily in the bullpen due to being out of options (although he will make a start soon) but if he were to be traded now would be the time to ask with the Orioles so close to a pennant (it’s a long shot). Drake and Scott are as above
This is another example of the Angels trading more players than they get back in return to increase quality
Primary Need(s): Corner OF and Catcher
Secondary Need(s): 3B and Middle Relief
Here we are again circling back around to the Indians in the Trade Candidate series.
Previously we spoke about their need for relief but found them to be a less likely candidate in trade talks for Huston Street.
Defense has been the cornerstone of the Indians success this year and Yan Gomes is a great defensive backstop and Gimenez isn’t too shabby as well.
However looking further into their catching situation they face an abysmal hole with their offensive production that could use rectification.
Geovany would make a useful addition to the club splitting time with Gomes behind the plate particularly against LHP.
The only real problem with this scenario is that Gomes hitting issues have come primarily against RHP. Either way Soto would be an upgrade offensively over Gomes giving some needed firepower for the Indians playoff hopes.
Indians Likely Target(s): OF Kole Calhoun, C Geovany Soto, RHR Huston Street, RHR Joe Smith, and RHR Fernando Salas
Angels Likely Target(s): AA OF Bradley Zimmer, AA OF Clint Frazier, A+ LHP Justus Sheffield, RHR Mike Clevinger, AA LHP Rob Kaminsky, A+ 1B Bobby Bradley, A+ C Francisco Mejia, A- LHP Juan Hillman, A+ OF Greg Allen, AAA RHP Adam Plutko, RHR Shawn Armstrong, A+ 2B/SS Yu-Cheng Chang, A+ RHP Dylan Baker, and A+ 2B Dorssys Paulino
1) Angels trade C Geovany Soto to the Indians in exchange for AA LHP Rob Kaminsky.
Angels absorb Soto’s remaining $1.4MM 2016 salary. Kaminsky is left-handed starter with mid-rotation upside
2) Angels trade C Geovany Soto and RHP Joe Smith to the Indians in exchange for A+ LHP Justus Sheffield and RHR Shawn Armstrong
Angels absorb Soto’s remaining $1.4MM 2016 salary. Sheffield is a young lefty with good control as a mid-rotation starter. Armstrong has already pitched at the Major League level and has excellent potential in the back-end of the bullpen
The odds are nearly 100% that the Angels will trade Soto before the deadline on August 1st, 2016 considering his contractual control through the end of the season.
Geovany really fulfilled the promise on his short-term contract with the Halos and should provide a reasonable prospect back in trade or something better as part of a larger package if we find a trade partner that wants more than just a catcher.
As stated in the opening there are certainly several other teams that should have some level of interest in trading for Soto but the three listed above appear to be the best fits and have the greatest need to improve offensively at catcher.
All three of those teams should have a great deal of interest in Soto specifically with the Orioles and the Nationals being the most likely followed closely by the Indians mainly due to the fact that Geovany crushes left-handed pitching and the former two fit that profile best.
Angels fans should say their goodbyes to Soto now because by August 1st he will be playing for another team based on the eleven teams that should have some level of interest in his services.