Anaheim Angels: Should They Be Buyers or Sellers?
The Angels are in a very tricky position at the moment, as they find themselves within fours games of the final AL wild-card spot, begging the question of how they should approach the trading deadline.
As of Friday morning, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are teetering around .500 ball once again, 3.5 games out of the second wild-card slot. Depending on the state of the organization, this would usually make for an easy decision to either sell and collect assets for the future or go all-in. But they are in a bit of a dilemma because they happen to have a respectable, but flawed, roster and the game’s top player in Mike Trout.
If Anaheim decides to sell, they do have a few pieces that would garner some interest, but it would mean wasting yet another year of Mike Trout’s prime, leaving 2014 as his lone postseason experience.
On the other hand, going all-in for a playoff push with a significantly flawed roster could end up being a major mistake. At 42-40, they find themselves sitting fourth in the AL West, eight games behind the division-leading Houston Astros, even after the ‘Stros’ recent 2-8 skid. Barring something drastic, the Angels’ only path to the postseason appears to be through the Wild Card Game.
And that is what makes going all in for a playoff spot so risky- being aggressive for the possibility of being eliminated in just a single game. And if that’s the case, is it worth weakening your farm system further just to find yourself in the same position next year?
If the Angels do decide to become buyers, their sole focus needs to be upgrading their pitching because the offense has been the driving force of the team all season.
Second baseman, Tommy La Stella has emerged as a threat atop the lineup and is backed up by Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Justin Upton, Kole Calhoun, and a now-healthy Andrelton Simmons. Together, they have turned the Angels’ lineup into an underrated one that finds itself top-ten in runs scored.
It’s their 24th-ranked 5.22 starters ERA and 18th-ranked 4.51 reliever ERA that has held this squad back. Simply put, terrible pitching is not the formula to getting this franchise back to the playoffs.
If they do end up bringing in outside help, they shouldn’t go out and make a splash on a pitcher the caliber of a Marcus Stroman, Madison Bumgarner, or Noah Syndergaard because they would be a little too expensive for the Angels’ liking.
Instead, going after incremental upgrades like the 32-year-old Andrew Cashner may be the better option. He’s by no means a world-beater, but outside of three bad starts in May, Cashner has been very solid for the awful Orioles. And at his best, if 2013 and 2014 were any indications, the veteran has the stuff that could translate into being a decent number two or three starter for this rotation.
Besides, he’s a victim of pitching in a hitter’s haven so moving to a pitcher’s park like Angel Stadium would likely make him a better alternative to what the Halos currently have.
On top of that, he will not be very expensive, financially or asset-wise. His contract runs through 2020, and the Orioles are not exactly looking to win now. A pair of low-level prospects should get the deal done.
Another starter they can buy-low on is Wade LeBlanc of the Seattle Mariners. He is having a rough year, no doubt, but was more than serviceable last season and is on an expiring contract. He’ll cost next to nothing so there won’t be any harm in acquiring him. And who knows, maybe pitching for a playoff-contending team will rejuvenate him; we’ve seen it with other players in the past.
For the bullpen, the Angels could go a flurry of different ways. There are top-level arms out there like a Shane Greene, Felipe Vasquez, Will Smith, or even Kirby Yates, but they would have a high price tag. Someone like Jake Diekman out in Kansas City would be much more affordable, and peripherals show that he’s been a bit unlucky this year.
However, I believe the Angels should sell. This team is young and is only going to get better, so there is no need to go all-in this season; it just wouldn’t make any sense.
If Trout had not signed his record-breaking deal this offseason, the pressure to win now would be on. But the 27-year-old Trout put his trust in the long-term success of this organization, and they have an impressive core to build around.
Shohei Ohtani is an absolute monster with the bat and showed he could be just as dominant on the mound. In a healthy Ohtani, along with rookie Griffin Canning, Andrew Heaney, and Tyler Skaggs, are pieces to build a solid rotation.
Justin Upton is there for the long haul, and Tommy La Stella and Andrelton Simmons each have another year of team control left. And of course, there’s Jo Adell, the organization’s blue-chip prospect, and one of the best in the game.
The front office should gauge the market for interest in veterans such as Justin Bour and Johnathon Lucroy. These deals will not bring in top prospects but will bring in assets which could then set the Angels up for future deals.
The Angels already have Trout committed for over a decade so there is no need to force your way into the playoffs for what would most likely be a single game. They need to be patient and stick to their process because the foundation for a playoff team is there. If you are interested to learn more about us and receive more content, click here!
Featured Image via Flickr/Keith Allison