Why the Angels Should Sell

As the trade deadline approaches on August 1st, the Angels find themselves 10 games out of the Wild Card chase and 13.5 games out of 1st in the A.L. West. With starting pitching decimated with Garrett Richards, Andrew Heaney and Nick Tropeano all shelved with torn ulnar collateral ligaments, the Angels have been left scrambling with make shift starters in the hopes of assembling a competitive rotation. While the Angels haven’t given up all hope, winning the first 6 games after the All-Star break, from a GM perspective, the Angels are better off being sellers during this trade period. Below I examine the 3 main reasons for why the Angels must sell at the trade deadline.

Replenish Salary Cap & Farm System

After paying the price in free agency with the likes of C.J. Wilson, Josh Hamilton and the decreased value of Albert Pujols, the Angels could use an infusion of cash as they are currently ranked 5th with a $178,855,346 payroll with not much to show for (A detailed list of the 2016 payroll can be found below thanks to Spotrac). While moving some of the over $20 million contracts will more than likely not happen, the Angels have some experienced players that can be used to obtain cash and prospects. Once touted for having one of the best pitching prospects in the game, the Angels have hit rock bottom in terms of both their current starters and depth in their minor league system. Management should be aggressively taking calls from teams that are interested in acquiring some of the Angel veterans. A seller’s mentality should help the Angels save cash and integrate younger talent into their farm system as they try to develop and re-grow at every position.

Experienced Veterans with no Long-Term Future

There are many experienced players on the Angels who can provide value for playoff contending teams that the Angels should move on from.

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The first player on my short list that the Angels should trade is Huston Street. Officially the closer for the Angels, Street is anything but a sure bet when he takes the mound. He is statistically the worst closer in baseball in terms of ERA (4.57), strikeout to walk ratio (1.1), strikeouts per 9 innings (5), WHIP (1.75) and opponents’ batting average (.314). From a pure production standpoint this season, Street simply is not getting the job done. Fortunate for the Angels, what Street does have going for him is name recognition. With over 300 career saves and two seasons removed from having an ERA under 2, Street should draw some interest from teams looking to add depth and experience to their bullpen.

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Next on the list of vets that should be shipped is Joe Smith. Designated as the setup guy to Huston Street coming into the season, Smith is having the worst season of his career in terms of ERA and has lost his position to the younger Cam Bedrosian. Given Smith’s expiring contract, the Angels have the opportunity to get something in return for a player that will likely not be resigned. Similar to Street the Angels will need to do their best advertising work and try to sell to teams on the idea that Smith could return to his top form in 2014 where he had an ERA of 1.81.

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From a starting pitching standpoint, the one pitcher that the Angels could get decent value for is Hector Santiago. During his tenure with the Angels, Santiago has been the definition of an average player, with a 3.86 ERA, a win-loss record of 25-22 and WHIP of 1.32. What makes Santiago look better than his numbers indicate is the streakiness of his game. In 2015, he was selected as an All-Star with a 6-4 record and a 2.33 ERA during the first half of the season. The second half of 2015 was a much different story for Hector, as his 2nd half ERA ballooned to 4.85 resulting in only 3 more wins. The same deception can be applied to Santiago currently. While he has won 7 straight decisions after a 3-4 start to the year, Santiago has enjoyed the luxury of having the 7th highest run support per start averaging 6.09 every time he takes the mound. This offensive production has hidden the struggles he has had this season with command and his overall worst season in ERA currently at 4.25. Ironically, Santiago has already reached his highest win total of his career at 10 with several starts left in the season to pad his stats. The value for Santiago has probably reached its tipping point and if the Angels were thinking of moving him, now is the time.

The one bat that the Angels should definitely try to max out on value is trading Yunel Escobar. While Escobar is enjoying his 2nd highest batting average of his career at .318, he hasn’t been doing much else. Offensively, he has no steals, 3 homers, and a mere 32 RBIs while defensively he is a liability (as shown in the video above) with the most errors out of all the third basemen in the American League as well as the lowest fielding percentage. While it has been a nice change of pace to see such a high batting average at the 3rd base position, Escobar was only a temporary fix to the long term problem of finding a 3rd baseman that excels defensively and is able to provide power numbers offensively. While Escobar has been an upgrade at third base since last season, the Angels in my opinion would better themselves by trading Escobar for starting pitching and give playing time to Gregorio Petit at 3rd who has proven to be much more reliable defensively.

It’s All About Mike Trout

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The Angels need to keep at the front of their minds the need to build a consistent long-term winner to make Mike Trout an Angel for life. While Trout has been the model franchise player of putting in the work and not showing discontentment, Trout will have a more difficult time staying in Los Angeles if the Angels aren’t able to show that they compete consistently for the foreseeable future. With porous relief pitching, an injury plagued starting rotation, and a void in left field, the Angels would benefit during this trade deadline to sell as many players as they can who are not part of the long-term future of the franchise. Billy Eppler has given no signs that the Angels are in rebuilding mode, however for this season, the Angels should cut their losses and look to acquire assets to make a postseason run in 2017.