In the immediate wake of Howie Kendrick’s shocking trade to the Dodgers, the Angels have made a minor move to address their middle infield depth, acquiring infielder Josh Rutledge from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for right-handed reliever Jairo Diaz, the club announced.
The 25-year-old Rutledge is somewhat of an intriguing addition, though the move shouldn’t come as a surprise, since the Halos have been tied to him in recent days. Rutledge gives the Angels an option capable of playing both second base and shortstop, though he grades out sub-par defensively at both positions. He has hit a decent .259/.308/.403 in 947 plate appearances with the Rockies over the past three years, though the role of Coors Field places his career OPS+ at just 83. Thus far, he has produced a -1.1 career WAR. However, he still offers potential everyday player upside, and has a strong track record of performance in the minors, with a .328/.386/.506 career slash line.
As the Orange County Register’s Jeff Fletcher notes, the Halos likely don’t view Rutledge as an immediate everyday fill-in for Kendrick, as he is rather young, has options remaining, and hasn’t quite played up to his skill level yet. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, the plan is for Rutledge to compete with Grant Green for the starting second base job, though an outside candidate – such as Gordon Beckham – could be considered as well.
Having yet to reach arbitration eligibility, Rutledge has four more years of club control remaining, which isn’t insignificant considering Kendrick was scheduled to reach free agency next winter.
The 23-year-old Diaz has electric raw stuff, with a heater that routinely reaches triple-digits, and a plus breaking ball. Many have anointed him as having closer potential, but he likely wasn’t slated for a major role in the Angels’ 2015 bullpen. In 64.2 minor league innings last season, Diaz notched a 3.48 ERA, 11.8 K/9, and 2.8 BB/9. He reached the big leagues for a five-game trial in September, allowing two runs with eight strikeouts in 5.2 innings.
Overall, the Angels had a rather eventful day. They essentially traded Howie Kendrick and Jairo Diaz for Andrew Heaney and Josh Rutledge, which represents a significant improvement in terms of both youth and cost control.