Do the Los Angeles Angels have another major splash on tap this offseason?
If you were going by past precedent, you’d almost think that the team could be set up for it. GM Jerry Dipoto and co. have been typically quiet thus far, only being occasionally linked to a couple of usual suspects like Bronson Arroyo and some supposed interest in moving a catcher for some pitching. In short, the team’s needs are established, but reported targets are few.
Fans have seen this story before, and it’s ended with hefty long-term deals for superstar players in each of the last two offseasons.
Then again, neither Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton were pitchers, and while C.J. Wilson has performed admirably since joining the Halos, he’s far from what you’d call a rotation anchor. With a number of question marks after team ace Jered Weaver and Wilson going into 2014, the team already knows that even one of the better 1-2 punches in the AL won’t get them very far next year.
And while they might not find a player to solve the issue in this year’s free agent class of starters, the trade market may see a couple of superstars get moved — David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays, for instance.
The Angels know, as well as the rest of the league does, that the left ace’s time in Florida is quickly running out, and there’ll come a point where Rays GM Andrew Friedman will look more aggressively to move him. However, could the Angels take the preemptive step and really separate from the rest of the interested parties for the 28-year-old?
Firstly, I’d suppose you’d have to figure out whether it would be a worthwhile move for them to try.
Considering Price’s status as a former Cy Young winner, prying him from the Rays will not be cheap — both in the trade and in the cheque for the long-time extension that would have to be signed after. Though the team has shied away from suggesting that they’re going to commit to another nine-figure contract in one player, owner Arte Moreno has never been shy to open up his books if he thought the team could acquire a difference-maker.
Needless to say, Price is exactly that type of player. Even in a 2013 campaign that saw him get off to a rough start, the lefty was still better this year at 4.4 fWAR than what both Weaver and Wilson had to offer in each of their last two seasons.
Four-ish wins wouldn’t have made the Halos a contender in 2013, but 1-2-3 of Price, Weaver and Wilson in 2014 would already give the Angels as good a rotation as there is in the AL. Considering that the Texas Rangers appear to be trying to put together a more balanced squad with a focus on pitching so they can catch up to the Oakland Athletics, perhaps there’s a bit of a shift going on in the AL West.
If that’s the case, Los Angeles would need the rotation to match, as even a Mike Trout-powered offense won’t be enough if the starters are only worth a 23rd-ranked 8.7 fWAR.
But with even the Rangers being an arguably better fit for Price, what would the Angels have to move to Tampa Bay?
A deal would likely begin and end with Mark Trumbo, who still represents the Halos’ only chance of putting together a package for a big-name starter. The 30-homer man won’t be enough even though the Rays need the offense, however, so it would not be at all surprising to see a name like Peter Bourjos thrown in, along with a prospect in a position of need for the Rays — first baseman C.J. Cron, for example.
Keep in mind that the idea here is for Angels to try and blow the other interested teams out of the water, so it’s difficult to say whether two MLB-ready pieces and one prospect would do that. Money is also another factor, as the team would be smart looking to shed some payroll before making such a move. Yet, the pieces are there.
Yes, they could try to pursue trades for lesser-known, high-upside young pitchers, but Trumbo’s name will likely always be involved. So if they’re going to lose the power anyway, why not try to go one further and add a top starter?