The trade deadline is just a few days away, but nobody is exactly sure what, if anything, the Angels have up their sleeve. With so many confusing and conflicting rumors to sort through, the best way to figure out what embattled Angel GM Tony Reagins is planning is to take a look back through his history at the deadline.
We all know Reagins is not afraid to make a deal, but we can learn a lot about his trade-working train of thought by picking out the major patterns he has displayed over the last three seasons.
2008 - Traded Casey Kotchman and Steve Marek for Mark Teixeira
In his official trade deadline as the lead decision maker, Reagins swung for the fences by breaking from the standard Angel protocol by acquiring a big name rental player. Of course, the hope was that this would give them a leg up in signing Tex, but it didn't work out, though the Angels didn't end up giving up much to get those few months of Teixeira, though that was largely helped by Kotchman flaming out horribly the instant he landed in Atlanta.
2009 - Traded Sean Rodriguez, Alex Torres and Matt Sweeney for Scott Kazmir
With the upstart Rangers refusing to go away, Reagins waited all the way until the end of August to make this surprising move. We all know how well this trade worked out in the long-term, but it was considered a win at the time it was made since it supposedly made the Angels stronger in 2009 and in the years to come. Even though it didn't work out that way, it gave us a nice bit of insight into how Reagins was thinking.
2010 - 1) Traded Will Smith and Sean O'Sullivan for Alberto Callaspo; 2) Traded Joe Saunders, Tyler Skaggs, Patrick Corbin and Rafael Rodriguez for Dan Haren; 3) Traded Brian Fuentes for Loek Van Mil
First the Callaspo trade, a move that came out of nowhere, though that was at least partly due to the fact that Callaspo was fairly anonymous in KC, so nobody paid much attention to him. Some questioned the logic at the time since he wasn't a major upgrade, but he did help fill a major need at third by being something more than not horrendous (though not by much that year) and once again positioned the Angels well for the future since he is under team control through 2012.
Now Haren, once again conjured this deal out of thin air. When the deal went down, everyone in baseball called it highway robbery by the Angels, even after highly-touted pitcher Tyler Skaggs was revealed as the PTBNL. What really made everyone mad though was that other teams didn't even know Haren was on the trading block at the time the Angels swung the deal. Continuing the trend started with Kazmir, Haren was another guy who was under contract for multiple years, which helped this deal make a lot more sense considering that the Halos were seven games out of first at the time.
Finally, the Fuentes deal. The only notable aspect of this move is that it didn't take place until August 27th when the Angels were already well out of the race.
So what can we glean from all of this?
- Reagins likes to keep it on the down low. Save for the Teixeira move, nobody saw any of their big acquisitions coming, and that was largely because the Tex deal was just so obvious. None of the Kazmir, Haren or Callaspo trades were even hinted at in the rumor mill up until the deal was already submitted to the league office. We even saw the same MO on display when Reagins swung the infamous Vernon Wells deal this winter. What this means this season is that there is a good chance that if Reagins does pull the trigger on a deal, we probably won't see it coming.
- Reagins likes to gamble, like REALLY likes to gamble. All trades carry some risk, but Reagins seems to be highly amenable to trading for high-risk, high-reward players. With Teixeira, the talent was never in question, but he was taking a big gamble on the team being able to lock Tex up long-term after the season. Kazmir's health problems were a roll of the dice (and it came up snake eyes). Callaspo was not a risk as a player, but by trading Will Smith, Reagins was giving up on a player with a potential high ceiling while also putting the Angels in a precarious position by dealing away some of the little starting pitching depth they had in the high minors. As for Haren, he had been an ace through his career, but he was having a pretty bad season at the time he was acquired.
- Reagins is all about the future. If you are expecting Reagins to go out and snag a rental player, think again. Tony doesn't get much credit for it, but he has kept the Angels competitive by jumping the free agent market via the trade market. The prime example of this was snagging Haren a few months before free agency opened up with barely any top-tier starters available. The same goes for Callaspo as his presence prevented the Angels from being stuck without a third baseman after failing to sign Adrian Beltre this off-season. Even the Teixeira rental was made with the future in mind since he was acquired with the Angels fully anticipating being able to re-sign him.
- Reagins goes with who he knows. One thing about Tony is that he doesn't target players that he doesn't know much about. Teixeira was a guy the faced for years when he was a Ranger. Pitching coach Mike Butcher was intimately familiar with Scott Kazmir after working closely with him as Tampa's pitching coach (not to mention played for former Angel coach Joe Maddon). Callaspo was a former Angel prospect. Haren had been in the AL West for multiple years and was someone Reagins had been actively pursuing for over a year. If Tony doesn't know a player fairly well, he likely isn't going to trade for him, so keep that in mind when evaluating trade rumors.
- Reagins always thinks the Angels have a chance. I might be reaching a bit here, but he showed last year that he was willing to make moves even when it seemed like the Halos should be sellers. He literally didn't give up until almost the end of August before finally selling off Brian Fuentes, even though waiting meant getting a lot less in return. While the Halos aren't playoff shoe-ins this year, they are in better shape than they were at the same time in 2010, so don't expect Reagins to suddenly raise the white flag and start trading away veterans.
So how can we use this to predict what Tony will do this year? While he is under no obligation to continue the same pattern, I'm guessing he will since the Angels are still only considered fringe contenders. Even though they are hard up for cash, expect the Angel front office to focus on players that can help them in 2012, when they figure to be more competitive. For example, the Angels don't have any immediate help coming to step in as a right setup man for Walden, and the free agent relief market doesn't look great either, so Reagins could once again try to jump the market by making a move for a guy like Mike Adams even though they have been more closely linked with Heath Bell (an impending free agent). Adams even fits the bill of being known to Reagins since he should have a pretty direct pipeline to him since Bud Black, former Angel pitching coach, is Adams' manager. Adams even carries the proper amount of risk for Reagins since he has a worrisome history of arm problems.
A few other names to keep an eye on:
- David Wright. Reagins isn't that familiar with him, but he could be a bargain due to his recent back issues, but he would be a great help at third base prior to an off-season where there is a dearth of quality free agent third basemen.
- Aramis Ramirez. He is much like Haren in that he has been on the Angels' radar for years but they've never managed to get their hands on him. He also is under contract for 2012 and is a something of a risk since his play has been pretty inconsistent the last few years. The only red flag is that everyone has heard this rumor, making it more public than Tony is usually comfortable with.
- Huston Street. Signed through 2012 with a 2013 option. Long injury history. Former AL West foe. Checks across the board. Factor in that the Rockies aren't actively shopping him and this would be a vintage under-the-radar shocker trade by Reagins.
- Paul Konerko. Now this would be a shocker. The ChiSox are rumored to be on the verge of blowing their team up, and we all know the Halos would love to get Konerko since they have been chasing him since pretty much the turn of the century. While he is tearing the cover off the ball now, he remains a major risk due to his advanced age and big moeny contract running through 2013. I'd consider this one the favorite if not for the logjam at the 1B/DH slot the Halos would have once Morales comes back.
The one big problem with all four of those scenarios is that they all require big money, which the Angels and Reagins have been more than willing to spend in the past, but this year it seems like that is not an option. Then again, that could all just be part of Reagins' ruse.
The man does love surprises, so he could very well snare a player I haven't mentioned yet as well. While I can't be sure that of who he will trade for, I am sure he will trade. He has done so at every trade deadline and has used the trade route extensively in the off-season as well. Several of those deals have blown up in his face, but he hasn't shown himself to be gunshy yet and until he does, I fully expect him to swing some kind of deal, be it big or small.
I've watched every game this year...I've seen Boujos make great catches but so has Mike Trout. Trout is a better all around player...plain and simple. I don't remember Peter Bourjos being labeled as the next Mickey Mantle. Why would Jared Weaver re-sign with this Angel team? Why? To come in 2nd to Texas every year. To give him 2.5 runs per game? Hunter's and Abreu's contract comes off the board after next year which frees up money for Weaver BUT only if they show they will go and get a guy in his prime who will solidify the leadoff spot for years to come. YES, Reyes is 3 times better than Aybar and at least 3 times worth the money. No way Weaver sticks around with the Angels current roster.
Reyes has told friends he would like to be an Angel next year. If he gets to Anaheim for the rest of the year and the community gets behind him and he meets Arte Moreno, etc...I guarantee he signs the extension. But if we wait until the end of the year, we have zero advantage. The Angels need an identity and a face for their franchise....they finally need to overpay for someone and Reyes is that someone. He is a game changer...no doubt. Sign a lower priced 3rd baseman and catcher like Edwin Encarnacion and Ryan Doumit in the off season. Kendrys comes back and you have a solid lineup...power mixed with speed.
Wait, wait, wait...did you just compare Erick Aybar to Jose Reyes?!? How many Silver Sluggers has Aybar won? Gold gloves? All Star appearances? Bourjos is "the best defensive center fielder in the game?" Wow. Guy makes a few catches through half a year and now he is untradeable and the best in the game (by the way, give me Mike Trout over Bourjos all day everyday....19 years old, 5 tool player, #1 prospect in baseball).
Everyone keeps saying Reyes is "injury prone." Really? Let's look at the stats...
2005 (age 22): He played in 161 games
2006 (age 23): He played in 153 games
2007 (age 24): He played in 160 games
2008: (age 25): He played in 159 games
2009: (age 26): He played in 36 games (yes he was hurt that year)
2010: (age 27): He played in 133 games
2011: (age 28): He's played in 87 of the Mets 102 games
Career averages: .292, 58 stolen bases, 113 runs scored, 201 hits, 12 homeruns. Also has a gold glove, 2 silver slugger awards, and 4 All Star appearances.
Ironic how you left out his 113 runs scored per year. Hmmmm....what's Aybar's average...60 per year. How many Angel fans pay money to see Erick Aybar play? How many Aybar jerseys you see at Anaheim Stadium? You think Weaver is sticking around because Erick Aybar is his shortstop compared to Jose Reyes?
If you can get the most exciting player in baseball and game changer for Aybar and Bourjos...for a guy who said he would like to be an Angel next year and you don't pull the trigger...then join up with Tony Reagins and go get Vernon Wells for $26 million this year and Torii Hunter for $18 more. Now that's good business sense.
@dro247 Here is the thing on the Reyes-Aybar comparison, I don't think it is a question of Reyes being better than Aybar, we can all admit that, but the question is it worth it to pay Reyes $20 million when you could have Aybar for maybe a third of that? Me, I tend to think no, just because the Angels would be better off spending money to fill bigger needs like third base.
The other problem is trading anything of value for Reyes when he is not guaranteed to re-sign. If I am the Angels, I don't trade for him unless he signs an extension as part of the trade. Otherwise, if they really want him, they can wait until the off-season and sign him without giving up anybody.
@monkeywithahalo @dro247 I'm fine with trading Aybar for Reyes and as Monkey said, there's no question about who is better, but a comparison must be made when you trade players. That extra money it would cost to bring in Reyes, the Angels could use on Aybar and to re-sign Weaver. If I have a choice between Aybar and Weaver or just Reyes, I choose the former every time. There's also no debating with someone who fails to recognize Bourjos' superiority in CF. He either hasn't watched the games or has a vendetta against the young CF.
Go get Jose Reyes right now. Bourjos and Aybar for Reyes gets it done. They get a CF to replace Beltran and a young SS to replace Reyes. Angels get a face for their future. Offer him Crawford money 7 years 140 million. Get him to sign...bring back excitement to Anaheim. His jerseys will fly off the rack. Angels need a leadoff hitter and he is the best. This is a no brainer.
@dro247 No brainer? Are you sure about that? Reyes has been great this year, but let's use his career as a true judgement of him as a player rather than one contract year shall we? He's proven to be an injury prone player. His defense is solid, but he's a career .292/.340 hitter. His 162 game average is 34 DB 16 triples 12 HR & 58 SB. All very good numbers, but when you consider that you'd be paying him over 20 million a year and Aybar 2 million a year you at least have to stop and wonder which is a better way to spend money. Now let's look at Aybar. He, like Reyes is also a good defender, his career average of .276/.319 is below Reyes, but not 18 million dollars annually below Reyes. Right now he's on pace to steal 35 bases, but his career 162 game averages are 24 DB 7 triples 6 HR and 19 SB.
So at the end of the day, you want to trade the best defensive CF in baseball who won't be a free agent for another 6 years, a good defensive and adequate offensive SS in Erick Aybar and 18 million dollars a year (price difference between Reyes and Aybar) for an extra 10 doubles 9 triples 6 HR and 30 SB a year? I'm sorry but getting rid of Bourjos and Aybar for Jose Reyes does not make the Angels a better team.
Over at LAAI I covered Reagin tendency to "jump the market" as you put it. He prefers to do his offseason shopping during the season. Dan Haren and Alberto Callaspo are perfect examples of this. By snagging Haren the Angels were able to forego the fiasco of bidding for SP in the offseason. By landing Callaspo they effectively were able to put in a bid on Adrian Beltre, but only one which would work on their terms. Beltre become more of a want than a need.
So perhaps a better category to include in an article like this would be to read the future needs of the Angels this offseason and how the market will shape up. The Angels will be in the market for a Starting Pitcher, but seeing as the Free Agent class is packed full of them, I wouldn't expect Reagins to deal for a SP unless they wanted to rest Chatwood. They'll be looking for a reliever but once again, the market is flooded with good ones (Bell, Broxton, Capps, Lidge, Papelbon, Rodriguez, Isringhausen, Uehara, Wood, Lopez, Oliver Sherrill).
The Angels will probably try to make room for Trout and Trumbo, so they'll probably look at dealing Bourjos and Abreu in the offseason or at the deadline. The question is whether they want prospects, or players that can help now. I think they'll wait until the offseason and get the prospects.
So to sum up what I'm trying to say, no I don't think the angels will make a move this deadline, yes I think they'll be extremely active this winter by trading Bourjos and Abreu for prospects and signing Bell and possibly a SP from Japan.
@ScottyAllenLAAI Well analyzed and argued by both Mr. The Monkey and Scotty. The only part I'd hate to see happen is losing Bourjos. There are a few more years before another Angels outfield prospect comes along and, well, I'd just hate to see him go. Next season it would be good for Hunter to have a couple of days off per week and when he's gone it could be pretty sweet pairing up the two "utes" with Wells.
The performance drop off at third is a little bit of a mystery but maybe only to me. MLB also seems a little thin at second and short looks less like the semi-power position it once was. After-effects of the end of the PEDs era? I'm just asking since it may be difficult to upgrade at third for the immediate future (much as I hate Callaspo) and maybe extending Aybar and Kendrick could be more on Reagins' mind than big-time deadline changes.
@ScottyAllenLAAI Oh, dear Lord! I see at MLBTR that "As for Aramis, the Angels' best bet will be to hope he'll waive his no-trade rights after his kids return to school in August. Also on the Angels front, Kevin Baxter of the L.A. Times reported today that the Marlins are scouting them closely."
Could this mean the Angels have asked about Matt Dominguez? Law says he's the best fielding third baseman he's ever seen but can't hit enough. I note that at 3A he's now being used at SS. Could be worse, the Angels could be sniffing around Wes Helms. Luckily, I have become immune to believing ANYTHING printed in the Times. I even consult a calendar after reading the date.