Just minutes before the 4pm EST Major League Baseball trade deadline elapsed, Angels general manager Billy Eppler dealt veteran outfielder Brian Goodwin to the Cincinnati Reds for left-handed pitching prospect Packy Naughton and a player to be named later or cash considerations.
The Goodwin trade marked a busier period than expected for Eppler, who became a seller with the Angels mired at the bottom of the AL West.
Eppler’s contract as Angels GM expires at the end of this season and his job may depend on how club owner Arte Moreno grades this trade-deadline performance.
That may come down more to who Eppler kept rather than who the GM acquired:
Eppler managed to trade three of his market-desirable pieces for mostly major-league ready talent, while holding onto valuable players for 2021 who are fan favorites or borderline stars.
In the week preceding the deadline, Angels infielder David Fletcher — an Angel fan folk hero and one of the best players in the American League this year — was floated by MLB Network’s Jon Morosi as a trade target, only for the rumor to be met by outrage by Angels fans on social media.
Andrelton Simmons, a four-time Gold Glove winner who will be a free agent after this season, remains arguably the premier defensive shortstop in MLB.
But after becoming prone to ankle injuries, Simmons may have been hard-pressed to command much in a trade before the deadline, and Eppler may have plans to try to sign Simmons to a short extension and allow the ascendant Fletcher to become the every day second baseman.
And possibly most importantly, Eppler held onto right-hander Dylan Bundy, who has emerged as the ace of the Angels rotation and was the subject of trade rumors to the Toronto Blue Jays and San Diego Padres, among other teams.
By keeping Bundy, who is controlled through 2021, the Angels will have a reliable anchor to the starting rotation along with lefty Andrew Heaney and righty Griffin Canning.
Goodwin was hitting .242/.330/.463 for the Angels this season. He was originally an waiver claim by Eppler from the Kansas City Royals in March 2019, and has two straight years of solid production in Anaheim. He is controllable by the Reds through 2022 via arbitration and moves to a fringe playoff contender.
A 24-year-old lefty, Naughton, 24, had solid earned run averages in the minor leagues (2.63 at High-A and 3.66 at Double-A) in 2019, but isn’t the strikeout pitcher Eppler usually covets, with only 131 strikeouts over 57 innings pitched.
On Sunday, the Angels traded veteran catcher Jason Castro, also a free agent after this season, to the playoff-bound Padres for hard-throwing right-handed reliever Gerardo Reyes.
In his first trade, on Friday, Eppler dealt second baseman Tommy La Stella in-division to the Oakland Athletics. Also a pending free agent, La Stella netted 24-year-old infielder Franklin Barreto — an ex-top prospect who Angels management envision as a play-anywhere utilityman in the mold of Ben Zobrist, a favorite of Halo manager Joe Maddon.
More analysis to come on the Angels trade acquisitions.