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  1. By Robert Cunningham, Angelswin.com Senior Writer Now that we have identified probable purchases, it is time to flip the script and discuss what happens if the Angels become sellers, rather than buyers. For the purposes of this article we will only discuss those assets that actually have some level of reasonable trade value as it will not be the best use of time trying to find someone with minimal or even zero value, like Tony Watson or Kurt Suzuki, a hypothetical home on another team. Also we will only consider teams that are actual buyers or are on the bubble of contention (i.e. teams that are clearly sellers will not be considered in this discussion). It should also be noted that some teams may be more aggressive than others, because a specific, targeted player might push them up the win curve significantly or they may want to keep their opponents from acquiring the player so that player cannot be used against them. Finally, the Angels, in any negotiation, will more likely target MLB-ready or near-ready assets, more so than prospects overall, simply because we need to make our Major League squad better now, rather than later. Raisel Iglesias 2021: 3.66 ERA, 34.9% K%-BB%, .194 AVG, 0.89 WHIP, 3.70 FIP, 1.89 SIERA Perhaps the Angels greatest asset at the Trade Deadline, Iglesias is having a heck of a season (Ranked 5th in K%-BB% among relievers with 30+ innings pitched) and, most importantly, he is getting outs equally well on both sides of the plate. Of course he is a pure rental, but there will be massive interest by virtually every team in contention, whether they really need him or not. Other than Craig Kimbrel, Iglesias should be the top reliever on the market, if the Angels make him available. Teams that may have the greatest interest in Raisel include the Blue Jays, Astros, Athletics, Brewers, Dodgers, Padres, Giants, Braves, Reds, and Phillies, probably. Again, other teams like the Red Sox and Yankees will likely inquire, despite their lack of urgent need, because a guy like Iglesias will improve any bullpen in baseball. So what would Raisel bring back in return? Probably 1-3 good, but not great, prospects, depending on the names involved. Some sample trade scenarios are below: Angels send RP Raisel Iglesias to the Blue Jays in exchange for C Reese McGuire and SP/RP Julian Merryweather. Here the Angels could pick up a potentially good 3rd wheel from the Blue Jays in McGuire who was designated for assignment earlier in the season but has raked well lately and has an above average glove behind the dish. Merryweather is capable of starting, so the Angels could continue to stretch him out or, alternatively, turn him into a multi-inning reliever. In lieu of McGuire, the Angels could ask for Jensen or Kirk, instead, but the latter is probably not available. Angels send RP Raisel Iglesias and SS/2B Luis Rengifo to the Dodgers in exchange for C Keibert Ruiz (#2), and SP Bobby Miller (#8). The acquisition of Ruiz would give the Angels a nice switch-hitting bat (better from the left side) to pair with Max Stassi and a starter with strikeout capability in Miller. The Dodgers get Iglesias for the stretch run and they almost acquired Rengifo previously in the nixed Pederson-Stripling deal, so the interest probably still exists. Ruiz may or may not be available, but with Will Smith locked in, the Dodgers are probably willing to move Keibert in the right deal. Alex Cobb 2021: 4.60 ERA, 20.2% K%-BB%, .241 AVG, 1.22 WHIP, 2.58 FIP, 3.21 SIERA A solid season has put Cobb back on the map and if the Halos become sellers or take a hybrid posture, other teams will almost certainly come calling. Just like Iglesias (and a lot of other guys on this list) he is a pure rental. Although his actual ERA is a touch above League average, his peripherals tell a different, better, story (FIP is 2.58 and K%-BB% of 20.2%, as of July 7th, 2021). He has been doing this equally well against both sides of the plate, to boot. Teams that may have the most interest in Cobb, include the Blue Jays, Indians, Braves, Reds, Rays, and Mets. Certainly other teams will inquire, but those just listed are more probable suitors. So what will Cobb bring back in return? Likely something similar, but slightly less, than Iglesias, again, 1-3 good, but not great prospects. Some sample trade suggestions are below: Angels send SP Alex Cobb to the Rays in exchange for C Blake Hunt and SP Seth Johnson. Here the Angels pick up an athletic catcher with some pop in his bat and Johnson, a right-hander who throws in the low-to-mid 90’s with a quality 4-pitch mix. Angels send SP Alex Cobb to the Braves in exchange for C Shea Langeliers and SP Jared Shuster. Langeliers is a noted, excellent defender with no flaws behind the dish, but the offense is the question mark, particularly his swing, which the Angels would try to fix. Shuster is an advanced arm that just needs to be stretched out over the next couple of seasons in the Minors, that could be an above average strikeout guy from the left-side of the mound, potentially. Andrew Heaney 2021: 5.38 ERA, 20.6% K%-BB%, .257 AVG, 1.35 WHIP, 4.15 FIP, 3.72 SIERA Despite an excellent K%-BB%, Andrew has, unfortunately, not had correspondingly actual results. Part of his issues has been one part bad luck (.328 BABIP), one part letting to many runners score (67.9% LOB%), another part walking hitters (3.04 BB/9), one more part giving up a little to many long balls (1.64 HR/9), and an uncharacteristically bad time against left-handed hitters, which traditionally has been a strong suit. Teams that may have the most interest in Heaney, include the Athletics, Braves, Indians, Reds, Blue Jays, Red Sox, and Yankees. Certainly other teams will inquire, but those just listed are more probable suitors. All of those parts listed above lead to the depression of Andrew’s value, so, unlike Iglesias or Cobb, he is more likely to bring back 1-2 good, but not great prospects if the Angels choose to move him at the Trade Deadline. Some sample trade scenarios are listed below: Angels send SP Andrew Heaney to the Athletics in exchange for SP Brady Feigl and C Drew Millas. This move would give the Angels an interesting arm in Feigl and a possible replacement for Stassi in Millas, who is strong defensively. Angels send SP Andrew Heaney to the Red Sox in exchange for SP Noah Song and SP/RP Aldo Ramirez. Song is an interesting flyer who throws hard, but has been serving in the military and could start as a high-octane reliever and then stretched out over time and Ramirez is a multi-innings type that has the potential to stick in the rotation if things break right. SS Jose Iglesias 2021: .275/.306/.394, .306 BABIP, 94 wRC+ Iglesias, known for his high quality defense, has certainly disappointed a bit on the field. However, he has exceeded his run production by about 6% over his career average, so there is some give and take here, based on expectations. There are two scenarios where Iglesias might get traded: 1) the Angels decide to sell off expendable assets, including Jose and 2) the Angels decide to upgrade at SS, before the Trade Deadline, and move him, then. Other than that, it makes more sense to keep Jose and then target one of the many shortstops that will be available in free agency this upcoming offseason. Teams that may have some interest in Iglesias, include the Reds, Athletics, and, more remotely, the Rays, if they feel their young prospects they called up are not getting it done. Other teams like the Yankees and Indians are struggling at SS, too, but the former has Gleyber Torres, who is scuffling, but has immense talent, and the latter seem to be falling out of contention, so they may forgo a Trade Deadline deal to bolster their middle infield. This leaves Iglesias’ trade market somewhat bare. When you consider that Jose’s defense should rebound, he makes for a low-level pickup by a contending team, but he will not bring back much, probably one reasonable prospect if the Angels move him at the Trade Deadline. An example trade scenario is listed below: Angels send SS Jose Iglesias to the Reds in exchange for SP Noah Davis. This would give the Halos a near-ready pitching prospect that features a fastball/slider/changeup combination with low-to-mid 90’s velocity. Could serve well in a multi-inning relief or starter role, depending on how his development continues. RP Steve Cishek 2021: 2.88 ERA, 7.1% K%-BB%, .219 AVG, 1.43 WHIP, 3.34 FIP, 4.70 SIERA Cishek has had a strong, results-oriented season to-date, living and dying by putting the ball on the ground and letting the defense do its job, in addition to making hitters miss enough to generate poor contact. Some teams might be afraid of the walks (rightfully so), but he is getting it done against both sides of the plate. Teams that may have some level of interest in Cishek, include clubs like the Phillies, Reds, Athletics, Giants, Blue Jays, Astros, Braves, Mets, and Padres. Other teams may have interest, too, but the teams listed are outside of the Top 10 in bullpen WAR, making them more probable suitors. Now certainly, Cishek is no Iglesias, but he has been running well and that should translate into 1-2 mid-tier prospects, potentially. Some example trade scenarios are listed below: Angels send RP Steve Cishek to the Brewers in exchange for SS David Hamilton. Here the Halos would pick up a good contact, great defensive shortstop. Not dissimilar to David Fletcher, but he strikes out more. Could turn into a utility guy if the power doesn’t improve, but not a bad guy to have, particularly if his development breaks right. Angels send RP Steve Cishek to the Brewers in exchange for SP Bowden Francis. Another alternate deal with the Brewers might bring back near-read starter Bowden Francis, who is a good command type of pitcher with a solid 4-pitch mix. Angels send RP Steve Cishek to the Astros in exchange for SP Hunter Brown and RP Brett Conine. Since the Astros play in the same Division, the Halos would probably try to extract a little more from Houston, snagging the high-potential Brown and solid Conine. Both have upside, at the minimum in the bullpen, but both, particularly Hunter, could enter the rotation at some point. SP/RP Dylan Bundy 2021: 6.78 ERA, 14.0% K%-BB%, .275 AVG, 1.42 WHIP, 5.44 FIP, 4.36 SIERA Unfortunately for Dylan, his 2021 season did not come even close to replicating his 2020 campaign. Despite a slightly above average K%-BB%, he simply has given up too many hits and the defense behind him did not help matters in the least. As evidenced by his recent move to the bullpen, the Angels are still trying to extract some value from him in the final weeks leading up to the Trade Deadline, but no matter what this will be a more difficult sell on the trade market for Perry Minasian. Teams that may have some level of interest in Bundy, include clubs like the Athletics, Braves, Indians, Reds, Blue Jays, and Red Sox. Other teams might make inquiries, but those just listed are the most in need of help against right-handed hitters, which Dylan does a better job against, overall. For all of the numbers listed above, Bundy represents low value on the trade market, but there will be modest interest. He will only bring back 1-2 mid-to-lower level tier prospects at best and the Angels may have to retain some salary based on the return in question. Some sample trade scenarios are listed below: Angels send SP/RP Dylan Bundy to the Indians in exchange for SP/RP Hunter Gaddis. As indicated Bundy will not pull much in, but Gaddis projects as a multi-inning reliever with above average strikeout capability, so the Halos may make this their ask in a hypothetical Indians trade. Angels send SP/RP Dylan Bundy to the Reds in exchange for SP Graham Ashcraft. This one might be a stretch, but Ashcraft could move fast through the Angels system to turn into a likely multi-inning or short-stint reliever. SP/RP Jose Quintana 2021 Starter: 7.22 ERA, 14.5% K%-BB%, .279 AVG, 1.93 WHIP, 4.44 FIP, 4.50 SIERA 2021 Reliever: 7.94 ERA, 22.2% K%-BB%, .320 AVG, 1.76 WHIP, 5.99 FIP, 3.00 SIERA So, looking at his numbers, as both a starter and reliever, you can see that Quintana has suffered at the hands of the baseball gods. A 14.5% K%-BB% should not equate to a 7.22 ERA (and his peripheral FIP and SIERA numbers suggest that), nor should a 22.2% K%-BB%, as a reliever, equate to a 7.94 ERA. In both cases, Jose is running a .400 BABIP, which is clearly saying he has suffered bad luck on top of it all. The peripherals highly suggest Quintana should have better actual results, but unfortunately for the Halos that has not materialized, yet. Teams that may have some level of interest in a reclamation project like Quintana, could include the Blue Jays, Reds, Phillies, Braves, and Red Sox, among others. More than likely they would consider him in a relief role, more so than in the rotation. Clearly, Quintana will not pull down more than a low-level type of prospect, so we should expect very little here (almost didn’t list him, but the peripherals will pique the interest of other teams). An example trade scenario is listed below: Angels send SP/RP Jose Quintana to the Braves in exchange for SP Jared Johnson. Even Johnson might be too big of a price to pay, but, currently, he is a projected 35+ grade prospect, per FanGraphs, that the Halos would probably feel happy acquiring back in return for Jose. Conclusion One notable takeaway from this mental exercise, is that a lot of the potential teams the Angels seem to partner up with, do not have a lot of notable pieces that are near- or MLB-ready types of players. This may prove a bit problematic, but should not be a roadblock for the Angels to get a deal or two accomplished. It seems quite plausible that the Angels will make at least one or two deals, because they do have assets down on the farm that they could bring up to replace the pieces they sell. For example, could the Halos trade Jose Iglesias and simply bring up Luis Rengifo to replace him at SS? Could Minasian designate Kurt Suzuki for assignment and promote Matt Thaiss behind the dish? Would the Angels consider jettisoning Adam Eaton after Trout and Upton return from the Injured List in order to promote Jo Adell? Could they move Juan Lagares and bring up Brandon Marsh before September call ups to get his first carafe of coffee? Maybe they move Cishek and promote Quijada? Part ways with Dylan Bundy and let Dillon Peters take his place? Move Quintana and promote Chris Rodriguez into the rotation? The point is that the Angels have assets on the farm that could replace some of our poor performers and, performance-wise, you probably will not know the difference and, in fact, they may improve the overall team. This is why you should expect to see at least 1-2 guys go out the door in trade, in addition to the potential acquisitions mentioned in the previous article. If you were the Angels GM, which players would you sell at the Trade Deadline? Up next - 2021 Angelswin.com Trade Deadline Series: Conclusion
  2. By Robert Cunningham, Angelswin.com Senior Writer Now that we have a sense of the Angels playoff odds (16.2% as of July 10th, 2021), we need to identify their strengths and weaknesses heading into the Trade Deadline. Additionally, it is important to identify a likely list of buyers and sellers, which we will scrutinize at the end of this Trade Deadline Series installment. One of the best methods to identify weaknesses, from the author’s perspective, is to simply examine team offense, defense, and pitching production, to-date, for the 2021 season. Based on actual results, peripheral statistics, and Statcast information, any fan can glean how well a team and any individual player has performed over a specified time period. This information, combined with team finances and player contractual obligations, can point and hint to the areas that a GM like Perry Minasian will focus on when discussing potential trades, whether the team is buying or selling. So to start we will first look at the Angels offense, focusing first on a statistic called weighted runs created plus (wRC+), which is an excellent catch-all number that shows how a team and individual players perform below or above League-average offensive production. This statistic quantifies run creation and normalizes it, so we can compare players who play in different ballparks and even different eras. wRC+ vs. Left-Handed Pitching The graphic below shows all MLB teams wRC+ versus left-handed pitchers: As you can see, the Angels, to-date, have performed well against left-handed pitching to the tune of a 115 wRC+, good for 3rd overall in MLB. Players like Upton, Ohtani, Gosselin, Rojas, Stassi, Ward, Trout, and Fletcher have all had good success against lefties this year. This is clearly an area of strength for the Halos and a less likely area that Minasian would focus on to improve. wRC+ vs. Right-Handed Pitching The graphic below shows all MLB teams wRC+ versus right-handed pitchers: Against the other side of the mound, the Angels are still above average (106 wRC+), but not quite as consistently good as they are against LHP. The Halos big bats, Trout, Ohtani, and Walsh are destroying RHP on a regular basis with guys like Stassi, Rendon, Upton, and Ward contributing, too. Because the Halos are ranked 7th in MLB, this, too, is an area that Minasian might pay less attention to, but, if the front office does bring in another bat, it would probably be a player that can hit right-handed pitching. Now that we have covered offense, we can move on to the pitching side. Here we will focus on a statistic called strikeout percentage minus walk percentage (K%-BB%), which is also a solid, effective number that shows how a team or individual pitcher performs over a specified time period. This statistic is good because it quantifies a pitchers ability to strikeout and walk batters on an individual basis, rather than a rate statistic, giving a purer view of effectiveness regarding how often any particular pitcher puts opposing players on-base. So with that, let us examine how the Angels pitching staff is performing against both sides of the plate. K%-BB% vs. Left-Handed Hitters The graphic below shows all MLB teams K%-BB% versus left-handed hitters: Here we can see that the Halos have been a bit below average, ranked 18th, overall, with a K%-BB% of 12.9%. Guys like Iglesias, Quintana, Sandoval, Mayers, Watson, Cobb, and Claudio have all had varying measures of success, whereas the rest of the team has been roughly average (Ohtani) or worse (Bundy and Cishek, for instance). If Minasian plans to pick up more pitching, it may be prudent to target a guy who can punch out left-handed hitters. K%-BB% vs. Right-Handed Hitters The graphic below shows all MLB teams K%-BB% versus right-handed hitters: On the other side, the Angels have performed a touch better, ranked 16th, overall, with a K%-BB% of 15.3%. Names like Iglesias, Ohtani, Heaney, Mayers, Cobb, Canning, and Bundy have performed at a varying, but solid, clip. Again, if Minasian focuses on bringing in pitching, a guy who can get right-handed hitters out would probably be even more useful and, in fact, a starter or reliever that can punch out hitters on both sides of the plate would do wonders for the rotation and/or bullpen. Finally, this analysis would not be complete without taking a glance at team defense. Here we will use FanGraphs Defense (Def) statistic which provides an above or below average examination of how a team or an individual player at any specific singular position impacts runs saved or created. The Def statistic is simply fielding runs above average plus a positional adjustment. In the graphic below, team Def is shown, which is a conglomeration of all Angels players in comparison to other teams. Team Defense Utilizing FanGraphs ‘Def’ Statistic The graphic below shows all MLB teams composite defensive scores: As you can see, the Halos have been systemically bad on defense in 2021, which is a marked departure from previous seasons. The Halos are ranked 29th in MLB, overall, with a composite ‘Def’ score of -20.9! Even noted, stalwart defenders like Iglesias, Fletcher, and Lagares have not performed to their normal levels. Names like Upton (LF), Ward (RF), and Suzuki (C) (Pujols too) have been a drain on run prevention, but it is not just them, the whole team appears to be struggling in some form or fashion. If the Angels do become buyers, expect Perry to upgrade where he can, to improve this situation, and hope that the normally good defenders pick it up and execute better on the field. Initial Takeaway from the Basic Analysis So, the first major takeaway from this examination is that team defense has been a real problem. Being next to dead last in all of baseball will spell trouble in terms of run prevention and it does not help that it appears to be team-wide, making it difficult to find a tangible solution. Upton is still on contract and will be difficult to move, so finding a good defensive replacement is probably off the table, not to mention that any acquisition must have a productive bat like Justin. Ward is young and controllable and he has had a very productive offensive season, so far, making him a good, versatile plug-and-play option for Joe Maddon, so he could be moved, but again you will have to replace the offense, as well as the defense, making him a little bit, less likely trade piece. Kurt Suzuki, signed for his previous offensive prowess, has been a black hole on both sides of the ball, making him the most likely piece on the Angels roster to be upgraded in favor of both better offense and defense. The remainder of the position players are either too valuable (Trout and Walsh for instance), on long-term contracts (Rendon and Fletcher for example), or just seem to be underperforming defensively (Iglesias comes to mind). The most likely positions to upgrade here are at backup catcher or, possibly, a short-term solution or even a callup from our Minor League system, to bolster right field, if Minasian feels defense is a top priority. Beyond the Halos abysmal team defense, our pitching staff could use a shot in the arm, as well. Clearly some of our starting options have not panned out as Perry Minasian had hoped (Bundy and Quintana are obvious perpetrators) and certain pieces in the bullpen have struggled, as well (Claudio, Watson, and Slegers jump off the page, for instance). Finding a controllable ace starting pitcher is always the goal, but even a short-term front-end or solid middle-of-the-rotation starter would help the Angels if they do actively compete the rest of this season. Adding another back-end reliever would do a lot of good for the Angels bullpen, too, if they go for it and may be the least expensive route to improving the team, in trade, from a resource expenditure perspective. It would also be useful if any pitcher the Halos acquire can get both left- and right-handed hitters out, as well. Long-term control is even more desirable, but it will cost much more. Finally, team offense does not appear to be an issue overall. The Angels are well above average in run production, so this may not be the priority if the Halos front office looks to improve heading into the Trade Deadline. If they do upgrade a position player, it will more likely be a guy who can hit right-handed pitching well, as the team is a little less productive against righties than lefties. Again, offense is not the Angels biggest problem, but if you are going to upgrade defensively, for example, you might as well acquire a guy who is better, offensively, against the right side of the mound. Who are the Buyers and Sellers? This question is relatively easy to answer by simply examining the FanGraphs MLB Playoff Odds page, again. Basically any team sitting at approximately 10% or less is probably a likely seller, willing to move players on expiring contracts (i.e. players who are in their final season with their respective team) or, if they are rebuilding, players that are not in their long-term plans (i.e. players with less overall contractual or team control, for instance). Additionally, teams that are around 10%-15%, are probably sitting on the fence, waiting to see if they improve leading into the Trade Deadline, to determine which way they lean. Finally, any team that is above 15%-20% is a more probable buyer and, thus, looking for short-term rentals or players with more than one year of contractual or team control that might be available in the Trade Deadline market. To be clear each team will have unique circumstances, based on which Division they play in, how many teams in their Division are competing, team finances, owner will-to-win, Wild Card standings, and strength of schedule the remainder of the season, that will impact if they buy, sell, or do both. Based on the assumptions, above, the Red Sox, Rays, Yankees, Blue Jays, White Sox, Astros, Athletics, Mets, Brewers, Dodgers, Padres, and Giants are all likely buyers, currently. In the middle, the Indians, Angels, Braves, Phillies, Reds, and Cubs are in a bit of a gray area and may wait closer to the Trade Deadline to make any moves, assuming they sustain or improve their performance. It is possible they could make a modest improvement leading up to the Trade Deadline to see if that pushes them further up the win curve, as well, before committing further. The remaining teams, the Orioles, Twins, Royals, Tigers, Rangers, Nationals, Marlins, Cardinals, Pirates, Rockies, Diamondbacks, and, maybe, the Mariners are all probable sellers, barring large winning streaks that put them back into the playoff conversation. Knowing who is buying and selling will lend itself to our partially-informed, speculative guesses about who the Angels matchup with in potential deals, whether the Halos are buying and/or selling at the Trade Deadline. Do you think the Angels will Buy, Sell, or do Both? Comment and share your thoughts in the thread! Up next - 2021 Angelswin.com Trade Deadline Series: Keepers, Assets, and Targets
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