L.A. Angels Trade Rumors: Ervin Santana's No-Hitter Makes Him a Hit on Market

Johnathan KronckeCorrespondent IJuly 29, 2011

CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 27: Starting pitcher Ervin Santana #54 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim celebrates with his teammates after throwing a no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on July 27, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Angels defeated the Indians 3-1. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

On Wednesday, Ervin Santana fired the ninth no-hitter in Angels history, beating the Cleveland Indians 3-1.

The stats are clear, but their effect on the Angels' season is untold.

Santana authored first no-hitter for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim since 1990, when Mike Witt and Mark Langston teamed up to no-hit the Mariners. It was the first solo no-hitter for the Angels since Witt's 1984 perfect game.

Even more rare, Santana became the eighth pitcher since 1950 to throw a no-hitter while allowing a run, and the first since the Astros' Darryl Kile surrendered zero hits and one unearned run to the Mets in 1993.

And if it weren't for the Angels' meager offense, Santana might have tossed a no-hitter in a losing effort for just the fourth time in the history of baseball.

The Angels managed a couple of hits, but trailed until the fifth inning. In the end, Santana had to bear down and hold the Indians at bay, not just to secure his no-hitter but his team's victory as well.

Once again, the hits didn't fall and the run producers struggled to do their jobs. The Angels only managed to tack on the go-ahead run in the sixth when Torii Hunter scored on a passed ball.

So what does it all mean? It means Santana is trade bait.

Or at least, he should be.

Santana certainly deserves his moment in the sun. Angels fans are more than aware of the rarity of noteworthy individual performances from their team this year.

But every silver lining has its dark cloud. For the Angels, it is their offense.

For as much money as he has spent in the last couple of seasons, General Manager Tony Reagins doesn't have much to show for it. Hunter and Bobby Abreu are quickly aging sluggers whose power is all but gone. Vernon Wells is stunningly no longer the All-Star batter he was just a year ago.

Youngsters like Mark Trumbo and Peter Bourjos show promise for the future, but neither is an offensive game-changer just yet.

Infielders Erick Aybar, Maicer Izturis, Alberto Callaspo, and Howie Kendrick have all contributed at the plate this season, but lack that middle-of-the-order thump that is missing on this team.

Incredibly, however, the Angels are still in the hunt in the AL West, currently two games back of the defending American League Champion Texas Rangers. For all of their inconsistency at the plate, it is their performance on the mound that has kept the Angels in contention.

Now it might be time for the pitching to help out in a different way.

Santana has trade value. He is en route to perhaps the best statistical season of his career, and his 3.47 ERA would a sparkling gem in the greedy eyes of potential trade partners.

Houston, for example, continues to dangle its perennial All-Star outfielder Hunter Pence. The Cubs' Aramis Ramirez backed off his firm stance against any trade and may now consider moving to a contender.

The Dodgers, scrambling to maintain some semblance of respectability, could conceivably offer Andre Ethier under the right circumstances.

Any one of these floundering franchises would benefit from a pitcher like Santana, a solid No. 2 or 3 in any staff and perhaps on his way to being an ace. And those are just the most widely reported names out there.

The Padres' Ryan Ludwick, the White Sox' Carlos Quentin or perhaps even the Mets' Jose Reyes could all be on the move by the July 31 trade deadline. It has already been reported the Mets balked at a Reyes-Aybar swap. Santana's name would certainly sweeten that deal.

True, the Angels don't have many decent options to plug into the starting rotation, let alone replace Santana's production this year. But there are options.

Hisanori Takahashi made 12 starts for the Mets last season and, despite some rough outings, actually has a better ERA with the Angels at 3.25. The recently demoted Trevor Bell is being groomed as a starter in Triple-A and could also fill in for the time being.

That's not to mention, any trade involving Santana could also return another major league pitcher or prospect.

With the division still in contention, the Angels cannot afford to stand pat at the deadline this year. Reagins has made a name for himself pulling off big mid-summer trades every year since 2008.

He has the pieces to work with, and he's got a fantastic player in a highly coveted position coming off the greatest performance of his career.

Santana has worked wonders to help the Angels rocket back into contention in the AL West. Now he can help push them all the way back to the top.