A Los Angeles Angel today, not a Los Angeles Angel tomorrow. That’s the reality several of the key players on the Angels roster face as the organization moves into a busy offseason.
With several large contracts already tugging at the tax threshold ($189 million) and arbitration cases looming, general manager Jerry Dipoto and manager Mike Scioscia will not have the benefit of playing heartstrings, choosing which players to trade like kids swapping baseball cards on the playground.
Whatever gets the team the best crop of pitching depth, while shedding salary, will be the more likely scenario—which usually includes the best available players.
But don’t expect a fire sale—a la Miami via Florida Marlins—leaving a platoon-like feel during the next 162 games.
Things are not that dire in Anaheim, not even close.
With MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez reporting the current list of possible names on the trade block has grown to include Hank Conger, Chris Iannetta and Peter Bourjos to go along with Mark Trumbo, Erick Aybar and Howie Kendrick, I can realistically see only four of the six not coming back in 2014—with one less-speculated member of the team making a cameo.
Sure, there are the no-brainers—Tommy Hanson will be non-tendered this offseason. Joe Blanton, unless there is some camaraderie with Arte Moreno we don’t know about, will be released. Third baseman Chris Nelson seems like a long shot to throw $1 million to, even though the team doesn’t have a lot of depth at the position, and J.C. Gutierrez doesn’t have the numbers to match his arbitration value ($1.1 million).
Their collective exits from Anaheim are almost inevitable, and I imagine none of them will cause any what-if scenarios or loss of sleep for the decision-makers.
The same can’t be said, however, for another group of players that I think have played their final game in Anaheim. Yep, it’s me predicting things, again—I know.
But don’t let that deter the violin playing in your head as you look at these five swan songs of Anaheim.
The Angels have reportedly told several teams they would be willing to trade Trumbo this offseason according to ESPN's Buster Olney on Twitter, and seeing how the crop of power-hitting first base-types isn’t really strong, the notification should be well received by other teams.
The Angels want pitching,and sources say they've indicated a willingness to other teams to trade Peter Bourjos or/and Mark Trumbo to get it.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) October 29, 2013
There are drawbacks.
Trumbo has been one of the more productive Angels hitters the past three seasons, totaling 95 home runs with 282 RBI—which impacts a substantial portion of the Angels offensive attack. However, that impact is only evident if you go off his home run and RBI numbers alone. His poor on-base percentage and second-half declines have had a downward trend.
At 28, there is still time for Trumbo to develop his pitch recognition and selection, cutting down his strikeout numbers and increasing his walks. The possibility for improvement also holds true for his defense, and he can always provide a solid option at DH.
Luckily, the power is what makes Trumbo a target, not his glove.
Not meeting the arbitration number for Trumbo ($4.7 million) is a savvy play by the organization, and getting arms in return for him is also a smart move by the team.
No question, it won't be the easiest departure. However, with C.J. Cron performing so well in the minors last season—along with his impressive Arizona Fall League run—and a healthy Albert Pujols, the Angels have first base covered.
Kendrick is a tough case, holding rank as a one of the few veterans in the Angels’ clubhouse, but like Trumbo, he is a an enticing chip for the Angels to use when negotiating for pitching depth.
The need for second base help is out there, making the move by the Angels more likely. There was reported interest from the Blue Jays at the trade deadline from Sportsnet.ca's Ben Nicholson-Smith, but those rumors remain as simple speculation. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe thinks the Kansas City Royals are another possibility.
Kendrick is owed $18.85 million over the next two seasons, and dumping that salary would greatly help towards the tax threshold.
(At this point I would imagine that you have said Grant Green at least once. Maybe twice.)
There is good reason to have concerns about Kendrick’s replacement, especially if the third base position becomes a major question. But Green showed a solid progression after coming over from the Oakland Athletics (via the Alberto Callaspo trade). Third base will have to play out in spring training. It's a risk, putting a lot of pressure on players like Andrew Romine and Luis Jimenez.
That risk, however, doesn’t seem to concern the Angels all that much. Otherwise, they wouldn’t mention Kendrick or Aybar this winter.
The Angels can stand to lose portions of the outfield group. It’s loaded. And if cutting ties with a fan-favorite like Bourjos will help solidify a deal, then so be it.
He showed improvement at the plate in 2013, hitting .333 in his first 40 games, before suffering a wrist injury that limited his play to only 15 more after that.
Bourjos' defense is still his strongest asset, providing the kind of solid center-field coverage teams love and have trouble finding, and with Olney tweeting that the Angels are willing to move him or Trumbo, there should be some interest in Bourjos.
Though a deal for the speedy center fielder would probably need to include other pieces for teams to bite, it’s still a smart move by the organization.
Any scenario that gives Trout complete control of center field in Anaheim is a good thing. Maybe it will help with a future extension?
Williams hasn’t been linked to any trade deals, and I doubt he will. But his inclusion in the list is important.
He will be the one arbitration-eligible player I can see the Angels having second-thoughts about non-tendering.
I considered a few scenarios in which the Angels keep the right-handed, sinker-baller as a spot starter and reliever, but $3.9 million (his arbitration value) is a lot of money to give a pitcher as inconsistent as Williams. I can’t see that scenario working.
Non-tendering him seems to be the plausible route. The move will free up money that can be used elsewhere—maybe towards the Jason Vargas negotiations—and give the Angels more wiggle room with their bullpen.
However, that doesn't mean he wasn't a key element—bad or good—the past few seasons.
Which catcher do you think will get traded?
The Toronto Sun's Bob Elliott reports both Conger and Chris Iannetta have gained the interest of the Toronto Blue Jays, as possibilities to fill their catching needs in 2014.
Iannetta, the older, more experienced and pricier of the two, would presumably be the expected offer from the Angels. But I don’t think this is going to be a one-for-one-type of deal that only sends Iannetta north.
Because the Jays are seemingly intrigued by several areas the Angels can offer players (catcher and second base), I still believe this will be a deal that involves Kendrick and a catcher.
Because Iannetta and Kendrick together would be pricier, the younger, switch-hitting option is Conger. The 92 games he played in 2013, hitting a decent .249 while improving behind the plate, should add intrigue to the entire deal, which should still get a nice return to the Angels. And that’s the goal.
Obviously, we're on the lookout for it. But there aren't many ways to access that type of talent. You draft it, develop it, wait. That's the most tried and true and sure method to acquire that type of pitcher or potential impact. Obviously, the other way is via trade, because those aren't guys that pop up on waiver wires, they're not guys who pop up on six-year free-agency lists, etc.
Hopefully, it works.
Otherwise, it's the Los Angeles Angels GM today, not the Los Angeles Angels GM tomorrow.
Follow Rick Suter on Twitter@rick-suter