Los Angeles Angels general manager Perry Minasian made two very clear statements on Tuesday with his moves at the trade deadline. The first — in keeping Shohei Ohtani — was that the Angels firmly believe they can compete in 2023, or at least do enough to convince the two-way superstar to stay in Anaheim.
The second statement — trading Noah Syndergaard, Raisel Iglesias, and Brandon Marsh for high-upside prospects — was that they’re clearly not yet ready to contend. And that they weren’t going to get there with some of the pieces and financial tie-ups they had.
In a vacuum, the Angels did well in all three of their deadline deals. And yet, there is a clear disappointment coming from Minasian and the Angels. Largely because if you had asked four months ago, there’s no chance Minasian would have ever predicted the 2022 season playing out this way.
He reflected on the difficulty of this trade deadline and what spurred him to make the moves he made, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com:
“It’s tough,” Angels general manager Perry Minasian said. “It’s not fun trading really good players. We just haven’t played well, and looking at where we’re at and where we want to go going forward and looking at our needs, we felt this was the best way to go.”
Perhaps the toughest swap the Angels made was trading away Marsh, the team’s former No. 1 prospect and an elite defensive presence. However, the trade showed an insight into the brutal honesty it takes to run a baseball team. The Angels had to come to terms with the fact that, perhaps, Marsh was not the player the Angels hoped for when they called him up in the summer of 2021.
Yes, Marsh is a remarkable defender, and at one point was considered the future of the team’s outfield position next to Mike Trout. But he struggled mightily with contact — the highest strikeout rate in the Majors by a factor of three percent — and didn’t have the power to make up for it.
So, L.A. flipped him to land a new No. 1 prospect in catcher Logan O’Hoppe. O’Hoppe has raked at every Minor League level and is seen league-wide as a plus defensive catcher as well. Minasian’s calculation on this deal was as simple as valuing the catcher position over an outfielder.
“You have to give to get, and the catching position, to me, is the most important position on a club,” Minasian said. “We really liked what we got back. Logan is an outstanding individual. The makeup is off the charts. I think this was an old-fashioned baseball trade.”
Minasian’s best move, though, was getting away from the entirety of the four year, $51.6 million owed to Iglesias after taking a significant step back in his production this season. Not only are the Atlanta Braves taking on his full contract, but the Angels even landed a new top-15 prospect in Tucker Davidson.
“Trading [Iglesias] opens things up because his contract was significant,” Minasian said. “And we liked what we got back. We obviously have history together. [Davidson is] left-handed with a strong arm. He wasn’t an easy piece to acquire, but it also opened things up for us financially for the future.”
There is no doubt that Minasian is faced with a monumental task. Given the status of Ohtani’s contract — and his non-committal statements regarding his future with the team — Minasian has just one offseason to take this team from a 70-92 pace to the postseason.
Tuesday’s moves may not have done that by themselves. But perhaps it opens the door to make something happen in the winter, and it gives the Angels just a few more bites at the apple before a daunting season ahead.
Mike Trout showing signs of improvement
One of the biggest factors in the Angels’ success is the health of their stars. This includes Mike Trout, who is dealing with a potentially significant injury for the second straight season. This time, it’s a rare back condition that led to swirling rumors about his future in baseball.
Those concerns were quickly subdued, as Trout’s meeting with a back specialist showed significant improvement, enough to where he may soon be swinging a bat again.