Yesterday at MLB Trade Rumors Steve Adams looked back at the trade that sent Zack Greinke from the Royals to Brewers. This got me thinking. We haven’t seen the career trajectories of the prospects in the deal yet, but we’re several months removed from the deal that made Zack Greinke an Angel, and it isn’t too early to take another look at the deal.
Obviously hindsight is 20/20 and it’s easy to say that the Angels’ decision to trade for Zack Greinke last season wasn’t the right call; the team’s goal was to make a push for the postseason–and a World Series–and it failed. But it isn’t that simple. The team also gave up a trio of legitimate prospects, and lost Greinke to the Dodgers in free agency this offseason. It was a big risk, but the Angels assumed bounce-back performances from some of their players down the stretch, and assumed that Greinke would put them over the top. The thinking makes sense, even if you don’t agree that the risk was worth it, which is something we’ll address in a minute.
At the time, I liked the trade a lot. The club had a long-term option at shortstop in Erick Aybar, so trading Jean Segura wasn’t a major issue. The rotation would be excellent with Greinke, and so trading Ariel Pena and Johnny Hellweg didn’t seem to hurt so bad, especially given the concerns about both prospects. Three good prospects for two months of a borderline #1 starter might not make sense in a vacuum, but the Angels’ circumstances made the move justifiable, at least in my opinion at the time.
Today, I look back at the trade and I think the Angels made a huge mistake. It was July 27, and the team was atop the Wild Card standings, four games behind the Rangers (five in the loss column) and just inches ahead of the A’s, White Sox, and Tigers. There were several Halos battling injuries:
- Erick Aybar (on DL with hairline fracture on big toe)
- Dan Haren (fresh off the DL with a lower back injury)
- Scott Downs (hit the DL the next day with a shoulder injury)
- Jered Weaver (a month removed from the DL with a back injury)
- Chris Iannetta (would come off the DL the next day after the wrist injury)
- CJ Wilson (missed a start with a blister, which the team might have used to disguise discomfort in his elbow)
You could contest the listing of Wilson’s injury, but the left-hander has stated this offseason that discomfort in his elbow affected his performance down the stretch. Maybe the Angels knew about that, or maybe they didn’t, but either way, the club was relying on the health and performance of a group of uncertain players. Maybe the team was counting on the sustained emergences of Mark Trumbo and Mike Trout, the continued rebound of Albert Pujols, Ervin Santana’s turnaround, and a shaky bullpen putting things together.
If everything went the right way, it should have worked, but there were so many uncertainties. Assuming that Greinke would put the team over the top was a very shaky assumption. At the time I didn’t see past the potential; the team could have been amazing, but the group had so many red flags, and only two months to shine. In hindsight–which is still at least 20/20–the Greinke addition was pretty unlikely to put the Halos over the top.
Adding Greinke clearly made the team better, and the trade would be easily justifiable if the prospects weren’t potential impact players…but they are. Since that trade, I’ve received glowing reports on Jean Segura and Johnny Hellweg.
Although I’ve attempted to better myself at the craft of scouting over the past couple years, I’m not a scout. And I’m only going off of what I’ve seen of Segura on TV, so my opinions might be a bit flawed, but I think Segura is a future plus defender at shortstop; he has the arm, the range, and the instincts. He’s a plus-plus runner, with plenty of raw power. If he’s an average hitter, Segura is a star. In other words, I expect him to make $510,000 after his first full season.
I’ve received great reports on Johnny Hellweg. The general thinking is that he has the makings of a middle-of-the-rotation starter, but is likely to end up as a late-inning reliever because he struggles to repeat his delivery and command his arsenal. The Angels have use for No. 3 starters and late-inning relievers.
Oh, and Ariel Pena might be a very solid back-of-the-rotation starter.
Put it all together, and the Angels gave up quite a haul to boost their playoff chances minimally. The trade hurts already, and if the prospects in the deal reach their ceilings, this could become a defining point in the Dipoto regime.