COMMENTARY | The Los Angeles Angels started the offseason with three glaring needs: third base, pitching and more pitching.
They also had four valuable trading chips and a little bit of spending money.
It's been about a month and so far things haven't gone as well as was hoped. And it's unclear whether they'll actually be able to make all the moves necessary to get back into contention.
They handled their third base vacancy and got an extra bullpen arm with the acquisition of David Freese and Fernando Salas, but they had to overpay with Peter Bourjos and minor-league outfielder Randal Grichuk. They also signed free agent Joe Smith to a somewhat pricey three-year, $15 million deal.
These are the kinds of things a team has to do when it is desperate and its resources are limited.
They still have Erick Aybar, Mark Trumbo and Howie Kendrick available to trade. When the offseason started, there were rumors that had each one of these guys going to half a dozen teams around the league.
But now, with the Winter Meetings just around the corner, it seems like all three will be starting for the Angels next season.
Sure, other teams are still interested in those guys, but at a fraction of what the Angels want in return. It's quite possible that the other teams around the league have taken a look at the advanced metrics on Trumbo and Aybar and decided that they're better off going elsewhere.
The Colorado Rockies were rumored to be interested in Trumbo, but then they signed Justin Morneau. The St. Louis Cardinals were rumored to be interested in Aybar, but then they signed Jhonny Peralta. And neither team had to trade away anything to get them.
The value of minor leaguers and cost-controlled young players has never been higher than it is right now. And that's exactly the kind of pitcher that the Angels have been targeting in their trade talks. They have to. Young, cheap players would help balance out the mess of the Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton contracts.
The one guy the Angels have who should be traded and should get a decent return is Howie Kendrick. He's about the fifth-best hitting second basemen in the league -- better than Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler and Brandon Phillips. He's above-average on defense, and he's reasonably priced.
The Angels also have a perfect replacement for him in Grant Green -- which is also true of Trumbo, but not necessarily true of Aybar. There also aren't very many teams who are set at second base.
Maybe teams know how desperate the Angels are for pitching and have been low-balling them hoping they'll bite. Maybe the lack of trade rumors for these players is just the calm before the Winter Meetings storm.
I think that once Robinson Cano signs his monster contract -- whether it's with the New York Yankees, Seattle Mariners or The Mysterious Team of Mystery -- then Kendrick will become a top target for whomever missed out on Cano.
Trumbo is another matter. The first base market is drying up quick and while Trumbo's power does give him some appeal, his inability to do anything besides hit for power appears to be common knowledge. However, at somewhere around $5 million for 2014, he's still a good value to most teams in the league.
Trading these two players is important for the Angels -- not just in what talent they get in return -- but in the financial flexibility, it would give them to sign a starting pitcher or two.
I just hope that their desperation doesn't result in another team taking advantage of them.
Jed Rigney is a Los Angeles-based award-winning filmmaker who also fancies himself a baseball writer. He is the lead humor columnist at Through The Fence Baseball.
You can find him on Twitter @JedRigney.
- Sports & Recreation
- Mark Trumbo
- Los Angeles Angels
- Howie Kendrick
- Erick Aybar