The 2014 Trade Deadline came and went, featuring a couple blockbuster moves and Jim Bowen-inspired lulz. Meanwhile, the Angels elected to stand pat, either satisfied with their roster at hand or unable to do any serious maneuvering due to the lack of high-upside talent in the minor leagues (probably both). Jerry Dipoto & Co. already used their minor league bullets over the last month in trades for Joe Thatcher and closer Huston Street. The Angels were never going to be serious threats for Jon Lester or David Price — the farm is thin and the big club is filled with too many untouchables (Trout, Richards, and probably Aybar), immoveable contracts (Pujols and Hamilton), or players that just aren’t quite good enough to make a serious impression in a trade package (Skaggs, Cron, Navarro, etc.).
Despite sitting the dance out, the Halos will still feel the ripples from some moves. Let’s see which trades affect the Angels, and we’ll start in an obvious place…
Jon Lester and Yoenis Cespedes
Guys, I don’t think the AL West is happening this year. The west coast awoke to news the Red Sox were shipping their best starting pitcher, Jon Lester, to the A’s for Yoenis Cespedes. I’ve written about Cespedes’ Angel-killer ways, so at least he’ll be 3000 miles away most of the time — which is still close enough for him to gun down Pujols, but never mind. But in Lester, Oakland transformed their starting rotation from “Really Good” to “Parental Advisory: Adult Required.” Lester-Jeff Samardzija-Scott Kazmir-Sonny Gray-Jason Hammel. That’s the rotation. And if anybody gets hurt, hey, they still have Jesse Chavez (3.66 FIP) and Drew Pomeranz (4.28 FIP) hanging out somewhere. Losing Cespedes hurts the lineup, but Cespedes isn’t as good as his public perception. Cespedes owns a career .318 OBP and he might be the seventh best hitter on the A’s anyway. No, really — six Athletics that receive ample playing time (i.e., minus Kyle Banks and Andy Parrino) own a superior wRC+ to Cespedes this season. The Sox also sent Jonny Gomes to the A’s in this deal — further fallout let Billy Beane to ship Tommy Milone to Minnesota for Sam Fuld. Together, Gomes and Fuld won’t equal Cespedes’ value, but they’ll make up enough of the difference for it to be worth dealing Cespedes for Lester.
So, yeah, the AL West. One could make the case Garrett Richards is the best starting pitcher among the top two teams in the division. One could also make the case the A’s have the next four best now, depending on Jered Weaver’s performance on a particular day. The A’s have a superior offense to the Angels, an equal or better bullpen, and a superior rotation. The Angels could win the division, but cruising to a Wild Card spot seems far more likely. And hey, at least we can relax for the next couple months if Oakland runs away with this thing. Oh, there’s also the matter of a possible ALDS. If the Angels win the coin-flip game, they’ll have the pleasure of facing a rested A’s squad in the real first round of the playoffs. Can’t wait.
Another possible Angels-related outcome of this trade? Jon Lester is in play this winter. Out from the Fenway pheromones, Lester will test the market this offseason and he’ll get paid. Oakland won’t be able to re-sign him, so the Angels will at least have a puncher’s chance to make an offer if they want. Would it be dumb to give big money to a pitcher in his 30s having an outlier season in a contract year? Probably, but when has “dumb” ever stopped Arte Moreno.
David Price and Austin Jackson
The other huge blockbuster of the day. Tampa Bay finally departed with David Price, sending him to Detroit in a three-team deal. The Rays received Drew Smyly and Single-A shortstop Willy Adames from Detroit and infielder Nick Franklin from Seattle. Price in Detroit won’t affect the Angels for a while — they’re done playing the Tigers this season and the two clubs aren’t battling for the same playoff spots. Hey, it might even help a little! The Angels are in Tampa this weekend. Maybe the Rays will be deflated? Is that a thing? If the Rays play poorly they’ll crushed emotionally because of the trade, but if they play well the Price trade will be a rallying cry. Just check with any national MLB writer’s Twitter feed to consult the National Narrative O’ The Day.
Likely, the Angels don’t need to worry about David Price until the ALCS. If the Angels win the Wild Card game, then the ALDS, most Angel fans will be too grateful to care much about the opponent. But in that round, Detroit and their hell-beast of a rotation could await. Max Scherzer and David Price at the top of the rotation? GTFO, that’s not even fair. Rick Porcello, praising the gods daily for finally having a solid infield defense, as the #3. Anibal Sanchez as the #4. Someone named Justin Verlander, one of the best pitchers of the last decade, might not even start a game in the playoffs. Rather, he’ll go full 2012 Lincecum, shoving it for one inning at a time out of the bullpen. Tigers’ starters own a 91 FIP-, the best mark in the American League; and that was BEFORE acquiring Price.
The Angels are caught in a Dave Dombrowski-Billy Beane pissing contest and they’re just trying to stay dry. The best thing I can say about Price-in-Detroit? At least he’s not in the AL West or Chavez Ravine. Detroit has the money and desire to extend Price, so he’s probably the AL Central’s problem for a while. He won’t haunt us in the same division, and all our Dodger-fan Facebook friends won’t gloat. That’s a win.
For Seattle’s efforts in this trade, they nab Austin Jackson. Piece by piece, the Mariners become serious contenders in the division. Seattle likely won’t catch the Angels this season, but if they can acquire a bat or two this winter to pair with Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Taijuan Walker, and a lethal bullpen, they could make a run at the West crown next year.
Mariners Acquire Chris Denorfia
Not what I meant.
Boston Trades Everybody
In addition to dumping Lester, the Red Sox also traded Felix Doubront (several days ago), Jake Peavy (ditto), John Lackey, Andrew Miller, and Stephen Drew for various players that fall somewhere from “meh” to “he’s fine.” Why do we care? Over the next three weeks, the Angels play the Red Sox seven times. Who’s going to start those games for the Red Sox? They just traded away four of their top five pitchers in games started. They did acquire Joe Kelly from the Cardinals for Lackey, but a top three of Kelly-Clay Buchholz-Rubby de la Rosa doesn’t scare anybody. The 2014 Sox haven’t been good, and they’ll be worse when facing the Angels in August. That could be enough to flip a game or two for the Halos.
Please refer back to this when the Red Sox win five of those games.