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Los Angeles Angels Trade Deadline Relief Targets


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By Robert Cunningham, AngelsWin.com Staff Writer - 

In the afterglow of Thursday’s win (and near debacle) and sweep of the Minnesota Twins the Angels continue to evaluate their bullpen pitchers and any means of improving and upgrading the relief staff.

Jerry Dipoto was recently quoted on XM Radio saying, via Jeff Fletcher, that relievers were “Priority No 1” for the team on the trade market.

Based on the continued shaky and inconsistent outings from several of our relievers it is understandable why the Angel’s front office and fans are in alignment on this issue.

So who is really available and what do the Angels have to offer in trade?

Currently, after Wednesday’s game, the Angels have a 31.4% chance of making the Divisional playoffs with only five other teams, the Tigers, Nationals, Athletics, Dodgers, and Giants, holding better odds.

Looking at the other end of the spectrum, at teams with 5% or less chance of making the Divisional playoffs, you have teams like the Red Sox, Marlins, Rangers, Rays, Phillies, Rockies, Twins, Mets, Padres, White Sox, Diamondbacks, Astros, and Cubs.

Arguably the teams at 5% or less are probably looking at their expendable assets right now to determine which, if any, teams they match up with in possible trades. At this point it would take quite a bit for most of those teams to crawl back into contention and if you can acquire a piece for next year and beyond for a rental, now is the best time to do it in all likelihood.

First of all we need to identify what the Angels want and what they have to offer.

Angels Needs

According to the Angels website the 40-man is full. However, three of those players, Brasier, Burnett, and Moran are all on the 60-day disabled list, which indicates that the Angels could easily acquire at least two more players without disturbing the 40-man roster this season (Burnett and Moran are out for the rest of the year).

To make room on the 25-man roster the Angels would likely send down one or more of David Carpenter, Cory Rasmus, Hector Santiago, Efren Navarro, Grant Green, or Matt Shoemaker. Carpenter and Rasmus are probably the most likely to have targets on their back if the Angels make a move.

In examining the Angels bullpen it is pretty clear that a really good left-handed reliever would be a great add. Beyond that a really good shut down closer type, whether right or left handed, would certainly give the bullpen much needed depth.

Outside of a good reliever or two, the Angels could certainly try to acquire another starting pitcher and then move someone like Hector Santiago into a relief role for the remainder of the season. We will keep this in mind as we look at the available talent in the trade market but we will keep the focus on relief help since that appears to be the most cost-effective way to bolster the team.

Finally we need to have a short discussion about what assets the Angels have that we could trade to another team for the pitching that we desire.

There are three main areas the Angels have some depth in:

1) Second Base – The Angels depth chart looks something like: Howie Kendrick, Grant Green, John McDonald, Taylor Lindsey (AAA), Alex Yarbrough (AA), and Andrew Daniel (Pioneer).

2) The Outfield – Again looking at the depth chart it would resemble something like the following: Mike Trout, Josh Hamilton, Kole Calhoun, Collin Cowgill, Efren Navarro, J.B. Shuck (AAA), Zachary Borenstein (AAA), Brennan Boesch (AAA), Matt Long (AAA), Cal Towey (A+), Michael Fish (A), and Chad Hinshaw (A).

3) PTBNL – The Angels have drafted players recently that teams certainly would have interest in that might have some value in trade discussions. If one of the above players isn’t quite enough to consummate a deal, throwing in the proverbial Player To Be Named Later might be enough to close.

The Angels do have some assets to draw upon but the selection is not extensive by any means. Because our asset base is more or less confined to 2B or the OF, Jerry Dipoto will have to find a trade partner that has one of those needs. There may be interest in a player like R.J. Alvarez for instance but it is my feeling that JeDi will try to hold onto valued low-depth assets at all costs.

So without further ado here are some potential relief targets that the Angels should be kicking the tires on:

San Diego Padres (Joaquin Benoit, Huston Street, & Ian Kennedy)

These three have been the most talked about trio on Angelswin.com in recent weeks and rightfully so.

Clearly Benoit is the best choice based on his actual (1.42 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, & 25.4% K-BB%) and peripheral (2.81 xFIP & 2.19 SIERA) numbers. Street is a reasonably close 2nd choice, so either one would be a big addition to the Angels bullpen.

I mention Ian Kennedy as a possible starter acquisition, if the Angels go that route, because he is a free agent after this season and even though his ERA isn’t spectacular his peripheral numbers indicate better days ahead. He might be acquired on the cheap.

Benoit or Street could likely be had for one of our 2nd base prospects. Gyorko will likely slide over to 3rd base next season, when Headley departs, so someone like Lindsey or Yarbrough for one of Benoit or Street should be enough to get it done.

Boston Red Sox (Andrew Miller, Koji Uehara, & Junichi Tazawa)

Each of these three relievers has produced great results for the Red Sox this season. In particular Uehara and Miller have put up ridiculously good actual (1.26 & 2.61 ERA’s) and peripheral (2.23 & 1.91 xFIP’s) numbers. Tazawa is a distant third but his 2.69 SIERA points to a solid contributor.

Miller in particular is of interest because he is a strong left-handed reliever with a gaudy 14.52 K/9 rate. Uehara has been masterful in the closing role this season and has dominated hitters over the last few years.

Since the Red Sox are knee deep in superior 2nd base options (Dustin Pedroia and Mookie Betts) they would likely only have interest in our outfield depth. Both Miller and Uehara’s salaries are relatively inexpensive so they would require more than what the Padres, above, would likely receive in return.

It seems like the Red Sox would only bite on a trade if someone like Zachary Borenstein or R.J. Alvarez were the centerpiece. It would also likely require at least one PTBNL, maybe two.

New York Mets (Carlos Torres & Jake Leathersich)

One, Torres, has suffered from some bad BABIP luck while the other, Leathersich, is a flame-throwing prospect down in AA.

Torres is under club control through 2018. He’s a righty that doesn’t throw particularly hard but he has a varied repertoire that produces a lot of ground balls. Oddly he gets lefties out better than he does righties so that might be a fit for the Angels if he can be acquired cheaply.

Leathersich is a power lefty and would certainly provide high amounts of strikeouts and walks. He currently sports a 15.34 K/9 rate and a 26.4% K-BB% rate over his Minor League career to date.

The Mets are certainly debating what route they want to take regarding their 2nd base conundrum for next year. Talks with Daniel Murphy have resurfaced in the last couple of days but that could merely be leverage politics in other negotiations.

Leathersich would likely cost us Taylor Lindsey while Torres might be had for Yarbrough. Essentially it would be a swap of long-term controllable prospects.

Arizona Diamondbacks (Joe Thatcher, Brad Ziegler, Addison Reed, & Brandon McCarthy)

Thatcher (LHP), Reed (RHP), Ziegler (RHP), and McCarthy (RHP) are all pitching in one of the biggest home run parks in the Majors. Thatcher and Reed in particular are fly ball pitchers that could certainly use a change of scenery.

The reason that Thatcher is mentioned here is his ability to strike out hitters and control walks (21.9% K-BB%). He’s a free agent after the season is over and could probably be had cheaply. Ziegler has some additional years of control but he sports a career 66.1% ground ball rate which is pretty insane. He’d likely be more difficult to acquire because the D’backs need more ground ball artists in their division.

Reed and McCarthy have been the real victims of the D’backs stadium this season. Addison’s and McCarthy’s actual (23.2% & 14.9% K-BB%) and peripheral (3.08 & 2.99 xFIP and 2.49 & 3.08 SIERA) numbers point to much better results than they have been getting in their relief and rotation roles respectively.

The Diamondbacks have Aaron Hill for two more seasons after this year. Someone like Alex Yarbrough would be a good fit for their long-term time horizon at the 2nd base position. A trade of Yarbrough for Thatcher or McCarthy would probably be a fairly equitable trade for both sides.

Reed and Ziegler on the other hand would require more than just Yarbrough. Reed would likely require Alex plus a right-handed outfielder like Boesch (1.059 OPS in AAA) and a PTBNL. Ziegler would cost a little less.

Tampa Bay Rays (Brad Boxberger, Jake McGee, & David Price)

One can always fantasize and dream about David Price right?

The real targets are of course Boxberger (RHP) and McGee (LHP). Both of them are more of the fly ball types and their actual (26.4% & 23.6% K-BB%) and peripheral (2.85 & 2.88 xFIP and 2.15 & 2.33 SIERA) numbers reflect their talent.

Both of these relievers have some remaining years of club control so they won’t come cheap. Taylor Lindsey would likely have to be sacrificed for either one of them. If we wanted both Boxberger and McGee (hey why not!) it would take at least a package of Taylor Lindsey, R.J. Alvarez, and two PTBNL or possibly one of our spare outfielders (unlikely).

Conclusion

These options only represent a sample of what is really available to the Angels front office. Teams like the Phillies (Bastardo), Rockies (Ottavino), Twins (Perkins), Marlins (Cishek), and the Cubs (Rondon) are all possible trade partners. Even a contending team like the Royals, Nationals, or Braves might be a fit for the Angels in trade (the Royals for instance need bench help).

Finally one thing to remember is that relievers don’t provide a ton of value to a team’s overall ability to win. Most of them are situational pitchers who come in for one inning at a time.

In terms of trade value they aren’t worth too much. The only exceptions are when they are under long-term team control (pre-arbitration) or under contract at a reasonable dollar value.

It is worth mentioning because, although we are approaching the trade deadline and acquiring teams will likely have to pay a premium for any player they acquire, many people feel like it will cost the Angels their entire farm to get a good bullpen piece and that is not necessarily the case, especially if it is the relievers walk year or they have a bloated contract (think Papelbon).
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I fully agree on Papelbon. The only reason I would even see the Angels considering this is if they want to take on salary rather than trading prospects/players. I imagine they could toss a random prospect and take on a bunch of salary.

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We've had Kazmir, possibly now Frieri in a similar mental funk, it just seems like Papplebon is like asking for more of the same issues.  No thanks.  Someone younger with more confidence, almost brash in personality, would be a lot better.

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It is hilarious how much the White Sox got for Addison Reed. Between that deal and the Eaton deal The state of Arizona might have an outstanding warrant for felony grand theft if Hahn steps foot in the state.

Davidson has looked much, much better of late.

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I've noticed Grant Balfour hasn't been mentioned as a possible trade target.  Started slow but seems to be coming around lately.  Overpaid, shouldn't cost us much/anything in terms of prospects.  Two year contract: $4M (2014) & $7M (2015).  He was a beast for Oakland last year.

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I've noticed Grant Balfour hasn't been mentioned as a possible trade target. Started slow but seems to be coming around lately. Overpaid, shouldn't cost us much/anything in terms of prospects. Two year contract: $4M (2014) & $7M (2015). He was a beast for Oakland last year.

At the beginning of the year he probably would have been in the discussion and his contract is certainly reasonable.

However the Orioles tried to sign him and then revoked their contract because they didn't like his physical. Then the Rays picked him up and he currently sits over a 5.00 ERA. His peripherals don't look good either which screams injury of some sort to me.

The list I put together in this article was strictly looking at current relievers who are performing well or should be performing well based on their peripherals. The saddest part is that any reliever can get injured at any time due to the max effort deliveries. Balfour already appears to be injured and I'd rather see the Angels focus on a reliever who is posting up good numbers for the stretch run into October.

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Robert I love it all except Boesch literally has no trade value at all.

I'm not saying he has a lot of trade value, Strad, but he is killing the ball in AAA right now with a near .400 OBP and over .600 SLG. He used to be more of a blue chip prospect too so there is something of value there to the right team and maybe a glint of something more if he is finally figuring things out.

He certainly wouldn't be the centerpiece of a deal but he could be an adjunct piece in a trade for a team looking for OF depth or bench bat.

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How is papelbon not on here?

Texas will probably trade Soria.

Papelbon has a great actual ERA but his peripherals are not pretty.... scares me a bit but I did mention him at the end of the article as a target if the Angels want to avoid giving up significant prospects and are willing to take on his salary. Not a fan of it either way but to each their own.

I actually almost included Soria in the list because he certainly will be available. It is definitely a possibility if the Rangers happen to like some of our OF depth. I don't think they need a 2B option with all of their good prospects.

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It's a little too optimistic in places, but overall a good breakdown. Also, Borenstein probably isn't going to be sold at a low. He's not Grichuck, being a 23rd round pick versus a first round pick.

 

He's a candidate for a reserve outfield spot next year, but he'll likely repeat SLC if he doesn't start hitting. Arguably JB Shuck has more value and factors less into the organizations plans for the future.

 

Taylor Lindsey is what a premium relief prospect is going to cost. A secondary relief option will cost someone like Rasmus. Just like Rasmus brought the Braves Scott Downs for the stretch run last year, he's the type of pitcher that other teams would settle for on a guy who isn't a top flight closer and isn't under contract for next year. Miller from the Red Sox is one type of those guys, not a closer and is an upcoming free agent. I'm not saying Rasmus is going to get it done, but Rasmus and a lower level guy might.

 

 

I also don't see the Red Sox selling either Miller or Uehara. But the D'Backs could sell on Joe Thatcher for a younger relief arm like Rasmus and maybe a guy like Maronde. Maybe throw in JB Shuck. 

 

I think Lindsey and a low level reliever would get the Angels Huston Street. It might not take that. Yet Yarbourough may not be enough. They have a lot of holes and he's a premier trade chip.

 

A closer is a lot more expensive than a LHRP, is all I'm trying to say.

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Robert:  Very good article but one question:  On the list of "possible" departures from the 25 man roster if a deal is made, you mentioned Shoemaker.....don't think he's going anywhere soon.....reasonably small sample size but unless he just totally tanks in his next few starts, he's earned his ticket for the rest of the year, either as a starter or reliever....

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