As the Los Angeles Angels look ahead to 2022, they know that this is the year they need to compete for a playoff spot. After years of disappointing results due to an ongoing lack of pitching, they can no longer continue to live in the middle of the standings.
So with that comes a necessary evaluation of every position group. They’ve already done work to address pitching, although more could absolutely be done. But perhaps their most interesting position to discuss is the outfield.
In 2022, Mike Trout figures to be 100% healthy and back to being the best player in the world. After him, there remains some uncertainty, with the other two spots needing to be filled by a combination of Brandon Marsh, Jo Adell, and Justin Upton.
Upton is on the final year of his contract and will make $28 million in 2022. The Angels will most likely keep him, but they could also decide to trade him similarly to how they dealt Albert Pujols. But in order to do that, they have to feel confident in the options they have on the roster.
So now, the question becomes this: are Marsh and Adell ready to be every day outfielders for a team looking to make the playoffs? If they are, then there are no issues. But if they’re not, could the Angels trade one of them for an ace on the mound?
Here, we’ll look into the arguments for and against dealing either Marsh or Adell for a starting pitcher when the lockout ends.
The Case For Trading Marsh or Adell
The argument in favor of trading Marsh or Adell is far less about the players themselves and more about need. The Angels need pitching, and an ace-level starter would put them in prime position to compete for a playoff spot this season. Trading one of these two players is their best bet to get that type of guy in their rotation.
Marsh and Adell absolutely showed flashes of insane potential in 2021. Both could one day be superstars in this league, with Marsh as a defensive stalwart and Adell as a power-and-speed threat.
However, for 2022, they project to be replacement-level hitters. Marsh’s 86 wRC+ and Adell’s 90 leave much to be desired. And although those are relatively solid numbers for players in their first legitimate Major League action, it’s unclear how much of a jump they’ll take in just one offseason.
With the Angels needing to contend in 2022, can they afford to rely on the significant development of two starting outfielders? On the same token, is Upton going to provide them enough to justify platooning one of them out every other game?
Because of all that uncertainty for next season alone, perhaps it’s worth dealing one of the two for an ace like Luis Castillo, signing a replacement-level outfielder, and simply praying that they picked the right young outfielder to stick around.
To get a guy like Castillo, it’s believed that one of Marsh or Adell, and perhaps more, would be needed to get it done.
The Case Against Trading Marsh or Adell
Given how baseball is structured, it is unbelievably difficult to trade away MLB-caliber players who are both so young and under team control for a significant number of years. Marsh and Adell could be the future of the Angels outfield, and saying goodbye to one of them now seems hasty.
Neither Marsh nor Adell showed the superstar level potential that Wander Franco showed for the Tampa Bay Rays, but both possess all the tools to be stars in this league. Marsh’s defensive chops in center field are rare, and if he can get his strikeouts down over time, he’ll become a dangerous hitter.
Meanwhile, Adell showed a stunning leap from 2020 to 2021, which is exactly what you would hope for out of a young player. If he can replicate that leap again in 2022, he may be worthy of an every day starting role by Opening Day.
Yes, the Angels need pitching. But they also need a skilled and valuable outfield outside of Trout. A gaping hole of production in right field has plagued the Angels for years now, and they finally have the potential needed to end that drought. Giving up on one of them now would appear more short-sighted than prudent.
There’s no telling at this point what the Angels are going to do with Marsh and Adell. They may hold on to both, or they may trade one in a blockbuster deal for a superstar pitcher. Clearly, both options can easily be justified.
Now, it’s just about waiting for the lockout to end so the Angels can give an indication as to which way they’re leaning.