Should the Los Angeles Angels be buyers or sellers at this year’s trade deadline?
The All-Star break gives all Major League Baseball teams and their fans a chance to breathe and analyze what they’ve seen before more meaningful ball is played, skewing their analysis. In the American League West, the Los Angeles Angels find themselves in that awkward no-man’s land of mediocrity.
If we were playing franchise mode with realistic trades turned off, the Angels would likely need a star or two from another team to make a run at the division. As it stands, LA is 14 games behind the Houston Astros for the division and nine games behind the reeling Seattle Mariners for the second Wild Card berth. Those sound like large numbers, but for a team running out the best player since Babe Ruth every day, it’s not insurmountable, especially with some trade deadline help.
The question is, should the Angels deal prospects for rental players in 2018, or should they bolster their farm system for next year and beyond?
LA has the advantage of being a free agent magnet (Exhibit A: LeBron James), so they could theoretically trade a couple of their more valuable players, especially relief pitchers like Cam Bedrosian or Jose Alvarez, get a couple of younger players in return who are close to MLB-ready, then sign a talented veteran or two to make a run at the division next year.
But, as always is the case with the Angels these days, it comes down to Mike Trout. Trout is first eligible to become a free agent in 2020. No reason to think Trout doesn’t stick around beyond that (at a higher price), but the Angels are interested in winning while they have Trout in his prime. Selling this season wastes yet another year of Prime Trout, of which the Angels could have precious few remaining.
Then again, an extra arm or bat might not be enough in a tough AL West this year. You say you want to be a General Manager…
Rest of the West
The Mariners ended their first half of the season with a whimper. Winning close games is great, except for when you start losing them. The Mariners were swept in Denver in a bizarre, rainy affair on a Trevor Story walk-off. The M’s have now dropped eight of their last 11 games and now have to look in their rearview mirror to find…
The Oakland A’s. The A’s have closed the gap with Seattle to only three games. Playing well on the road, the A’s are putting together that Billy Beane magic they seem to find with mostly no-name players. They sent shortstop Jed Lowrie, who is outperforming his solid 2017 season this year with a .285/.357/.492 slash and already a career-high tying 16 home runs at the break, and closer Blake Treinan to the All-Star Game. Oakland, starting the season with low expectations, hovered around .500 most of the year until June, when they went 17-10. They’re 9-4 so far in July. Look out.
Who will the Texas Rangers trade away this month? Third baseman Adrian Beltre hinted that he would waive his no-trade clause to move to a contender, but recently the rumors have indicated that Beltre would rather remain in Texas. Expect Texas to move some pitchers before the deadline, with many crosshairs on Cole Hamels from around the league, including the big boys of the AL East. Hamels could also reunite with the Philadelphia Phillies if things line up just right.