Understanding the direction of the Los Angeles Angels and a clear path to get their franchise back into contention has been a tall order as they continue to spin the wheels year after year.
Mike Trout’s long-term health has become more of a question following his diagnosis of a costovertebral dysfunction at T5, which, fortunately, isn’t going to affect his availability in the immediate future. Aside from Trout and the Angels having to also monitor his injury, general manager Perry Minasian has been busy shifting his focus towards seasons ahead.
Heading into Friday, the Angels possess a 51-67 record, and according to FiveThirtyEight, are projected to finish 72-90, easily missing any postseason no matter the scenario. So Minasian got to work before the trade deadline, making the necessary moves to both clear money, and reset the clock on a few situations that just weren’t panning out the way the organization had hoped.
Noah Syndergaard to the Philadelphia Phillies for Jadiel Sanchez and Mickey Moniak
Syndergaard was an easy candidate for a trade because he is only under contract for one year, and his services were enticing to clubs around MLB with the knowledge that his cost wouldn’t be anything remotely like a top-end deadline arm.
His numbers have fallen dramatically from when he pitched for the New York Mets, and forgetting his two rehab outings in the latter part of 2021, has posted the highest FIP and lowest average fastball velocity of his career.
He wasn’t in the Angels’ plans going forward and this move was probably the best return Miasian was offered, and the Phillies obliged with two outfielders.
Mickey Moniak is a former first-round pick in 2016 who has been underwhelming in his time as a pro and might not be much else than 40-man depth with his position versatility. Jadiel Sanchez is a 21-year-old switch hitter who slots into the Angels farm as their 30th-ranked prospect per MLB.com. His high contact percentage and hard hit rate are both intriguing, but his 37% chase rate is something that will need to be a focus in his development.
Thoughts: An okay deal, without much to offer other than hope that Sanchez becomes a rotational piece in the outfield or can develop into a shiny trade chip after getting comfortable in the system.
Raisel Iglesias traded to the Atlanta Braves for Tucker Davidson and Jesse Chavez
Prior to the trade, Raisel Iglesias had mostly been living up to the contract he signed in the offseason. The 32-year-old closer notched 16 saves and carried a 4.04 ERA, but his 3.17 FIP was more indicative of what the Angels really let go of. However, his current barrel percentage and average exit velocity allowed are set to be career highs and for a club without a paddle, a high-priced closer isn’t a pillar that’ll stick.
Straight salary dump trades are never sought after by fans, especially when the return is headlined by Tucker Davidson, whose 6.75 ERA and 5.41 FIP won’t make anyone jump for joy. Accompanying him is old friend in Jesse Chavez, who is a 15-year veteran that spent time with the club in 2017 and didn’t leave much of an impression then as a starting pitcher. But Chavez has been quite effective this season, posting a 2.66 ERA between his three stops in 2022.
Thoughts: Minasian definitely should have held on to Iglesias and banked on a return to form. Regardless of the fact that the Braves took on all of his remaining money, the Angels would’ve had roughly $116 million on the books for 2023 if they had kept him. No matter how you break it down, this was a poor deal by Minasian.
Brandon Marsh to the Phillies in exchange for Logan O’Hoppe
Brandon Marsh was brought up as a highly touted outfield prospect after his 2021 midseason call-up, but the hype didn’t match the on-field production. He wasn’t as disastrous as Jo Adell, but a high strikeout rate and complete lack of power quieted many. Marsh’s exit velocity numbers are definitely eye-popping, but his regression into August of this year was enough to warrant a trade.
His wRC+ dropped from 86 in 2021, to 79 this season, and his hard hit rate dropped from 51.7% to 37.4%. His 35.6% strikeout rate was the worst in all of Major League Baseball and Marsh’s expected batting average is in the 9th percentile.
Thoughts: Trading Marsh to the Phillies gives them a chance to fix him in their organization, and adding Logan O’Hoppe provides a fresh timeline to a young catcher who immediately became the Angels’ No. 1 prospect.
O’Hoppe was the Phillies’ third-ranked guy but is highly regarded as one of the best catching prospects in baseball. His defensive prowess is his claim to fame, but in nine games with his new team, he has an on-base plus slugging of 1.189 including five home runs. His strikeout and walk rates almost mirror each other, and if he is able to maintain that even a little bit, this was a fantastic trade.
Scenarios for Shohei Ohtani
Rumors floated around prior to the trade deadline that the Angels were listening to offers for Ohtani, and rightfully so, as he’d like to play for a team that is trying to win.
Ohtani is said to be seeking a contract worth near, or upwards of $50 million per season, and considering he is the defending MVP and has performed like a superstar both on the mound and in the box, it’s hard to justify a team not meeting his ask.
Ohtani ranks second in cumulative WAR behind Aaron Judge up to this point, and if Minasian did not feel the offers met his skyscraper tall ask in a trade, then holding on was the correct move.
Both scenarios for the Angels have good and bad outcomes. They trade him, it’s a failure to let him leave after one contract with him being in the middle of his prime and a true ‘blue-chip as they come’ type player. But it is also a failure if they’re able to sign him, and again continue to waste his, and Trout’s years without a plan around the two of them to somehow make it to October.