The Los Angeles Angels made their first major foray into the trade market on Monday in a very puzzling move that gave their best reliever (left-hander Scott Downs) away to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for minor league right-hander Corey Rasmus, who has a 8.10 ERA in three appearances for the Braves.
What makes this move especially puzzling is that Rasmus, 25, has been bounced around the minor leagues for seven years and still hasn’t amounted to anything for the Braves.
Downs (2-3, 1.84 ERA), on the other hand, has been the Angels’ only consistent reliever and virtually the only left-hander in the entire bullpen. Without him, the Angels relief corps looks even more grim as Rasmus is unlikely to make an impact, at least at the major league level, any time soon.
The only conceivable justification for this move is that it is an attempt to get younger and cheaper. But even at 37, Downs is as good as ever, and seeing as Mike Scioscia rarely calls on him to pitch for more than one complete inning, it’s hard to see how age is a meaningful factor in his case.
While the move is unlikely to be a prelude to a “yard sale” scenario—one in which, as some have posited, the Angels desperately unload every valuable asset they have in a desperate attempt to rebuild their farm system—the trade is still a head scratcher for Angel fans. Let’s hope Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar aren’t the next ones to go.
The Halos will surely miss Downs, though the feeling probably isn’t mutual, as Downs will be greeted by an Atlanta team (60-45) primed for a deep playoff run.
Tony Baker is a Los Angeles Angels writer for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter at @tonloc_baker.