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Winning without Rendon is critical to Angels future success


ryanmfalla

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rendon.jpg?ve=1&tl=1To think this Angels team was almost free of the big contract woes that plagued them during the Albert Pujols days, yet here we are bogged in a mire far worse than anything experienced during that contract. The Angels 38 million dollar man Anthony Rendon has made it virtually impossible to field a functioning infield thanks to his constant IL trips putting an intense pressure on roster stability. Although the Angels did experience the sweet bliss of something close to stability with Gio Urshela his latest injury has the Angels once again lovesick for a natural third baseman. While the right side of the infield is fairly stable thanks to the presence of Brandon Drury and Jared Walsh the left falls well short of playoff standards with Kevin Padlo, Luis Rengifo and Andrew Velazquez leading the 3B charge. The Angels narrowly squeaked past disaster earlier in the season after Zach Neto brought a much needed anchor to the struggling infield, but now that he is lost to the IL as well we’re officially back to the Barnum and Bailey days. Can the Angels realistically cure their infield ailments in time to preserve this playoff push in what will be the toughest stretch yet?

At this point if anything happens to journeyman Kevin Padlo the Angels will be down to broken bones and wishful thinking for backup. A devastating sentence to consider. The Angels need to hit the core of this issue and find a reliable head of the class third without having to shuffle the roster on a daily basis to compensate. Shuffling Rengifo, Stefanic, and Padlo around for the next month or two is not going to cut it for a team seriously anticipating a deep playoff push. David Fletcher still exists in Triple A where he currently serves out his sentence in the doghouse, though given front office sentiments he cannot be considered seriously for a full time position. Although Fletcher has logged 941.1 innings of serviceable third base play at the Major League level (as opposed to Padlos 76 3B innings) front office politics, alongside declining play, have kept him far from where he once stood on the MLB roster. His previous two seasons have seen him put together OPS just north of .600 while the current year saw him log two hits in 16 ABs before being outrighted. The move to call up Padlo to maintain 3B speaks for itself considering Fletcher has managed a .869 OPS at Triple A thus far and still cannot get a call back. If you thought Brett Phillips was a deep stash as a playoff pinch runner David Fletchers status as the last ditch 13th hour nuclear option will make you blush.

WMWZ2TPHPWN3LSQCPSPK3GPS6A.jpgThe Angels need to bite the bullet and find a way to bring in a truly incumbent, everyday third baseman to take a brunt of the 3B workload. You could always go for a big splash and secure Nolan Arenado in trade talks, though given his contract this is realistically not an option that can be seriously considered. No professional organization can call themselves so while moving to commit 70 million dollars to a two man platoon over a single position. Whatever trade ends up being made will need to fit a platoon scheme because there is no world where you dump the Rendon contract without attaching serious prizes to the deal. To leverage the entire future of the franchise in such an egregious way because you sniffed the playoffs two months in is absolutely criminal in the worst way possible. Even considering this should be grounds for penalty.

Jeimer Candelario also comes up as an alternative trade option considering his low salary and consistency at 3B. Candelario has seen 582.1 innings of serviceable 3B play this year while producing exceptionally on offense. He led the MLB in doubles just two years ago and currently has 21 across 252 ABs on the year while also managing 8 HRs to a .791 OPS. It appears highly likely Candelario will be openly available on the trade market due to his light contract ($5 million) and impending free agency. The Angels would do well for themselves to head into the dog days of summer featuring an offensively capable, natural third baseman who can allow for a more leisurely workload on Rendon. Again, at 5 million dollars the move practically pays for itself and you can likely package a few fringy type prospects to secure the deal. The future remains intact while still emphasizing winning now. 

A big name starting pitcher might look nice on paper, perhaps even a flamethrowing bullpen arm would boost this teams allure, but really anything that can keep the Angels from trotting out journeyman minor leaguers will make this team look playoff bound. The Angels have shown they can clearly win with Rendon on the roster, the problem has been winning in his absence. If the leap of faith needed to take you to playoffs is as small as a suitable platoon+ option at 3B you have to take that leap every time, especially when it’s the last thing standing between you and a Mike Trout/Shohei Ohtani playoff run come October. 

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