After a four-game set in Anaheim, many Blue Jays fans are now familiar with the makeup of the ominously stacked Los Angeles Angels. The question now is – could the Jays strike gold in a deal with the Angels?
We’ve all heard the talk about the Angels. We’ve heard about their stellar offense, their terrific defense, and the presence of a certain two-way phenom. After a four-game series, we know for certain that the first two are unequivocally top notch.
And now, as Blue Jays fans, we can not only marvel at their strengths but also pick apart their weaknesses for our own benefit. Notice the one aspect of the Angels’ play without a superlative attached to it? Yes, pitching. All season long, Los Angeles has struggled to keep their ailing arms healthy, and their healthy arms consistent. It hasn’t been effective thus far.
According to ESPN, the Angels sit 14th in relievers ERA (3.92) and 9th in starters ERA (3.74). Additionally, they are 20th in innings pitched by starters (412.0) and are tied for first league-wide with 15 blown saves. It’s as clear as day if this team wants to compete (which they do), they’ll need to acquire some pitching depth at this year’s July 31st non-waiver trade deadline.
Enter the Toronto Blue Jays. With reliable bullpen arms ready to go, the Jays could fare formidably in a swap with the Angels, whether it be a one-for-one deal or a multi-reliever blockbuster.
Before I begin, it’s worth mentioning that the Angels have some good arms in the bullpen, Cam Bedrosian, and Justin Anderson among them, but they just don’t quite have enough quality arms to be considered an elite bullpen, perfectly opening the door for some Blue Jay pitchers to wedge their way in.
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At first glance, veteran relievers Seunghwan Oh and Tyler Clippard could easily be sent out west in order to acquire a mid-level prospect. The Angels, as mentioned above, are in desperate need of some reliable innings. Oh (35.1 IP, 3.31 ERA, 1.132 WHIP), Clippard (37.1 IP, 3.13 ERA, 1.152 WHIP) and even John Axford (36.0 IP, 4.75 ERA, 1.389 WHIP) could intrigue Billy Eppler and the rest of the Angels front office. Oh’s modest 2019 option could also boost his trade value considerably.
It’s not exactly a groundbreaking suggestion, but dealing the above three guys to the Angels specifically could open up some interesting new trade possibilities. With a farm system ranked 19th in the league by Bleacher Report, and 9th by MiLB.com, the organization evidently has some prospects they could deal to improve their chances in this year’s playoffs.
While it’s unclear at this point if Atkins and company are prepared to deal more controllable relief assets like Ryan Tepera and Danny Barnes, they too could attract some trade interest. Tepera (39.0 IP, 2.54 ERA, 6 SV) has put together an impressive campaign, while Barnes (29.1 IP, 4.60 ERA, 27 SO) has been inconsistent, but dominant at times.
Even lefty Tim Mayza (10.0 IP, 2.70 ERA, 8 SO) and Jake Petricka (18.0 IP, 1.00 ERA, 11 SO at Triple-A Buffalo) could be dealt if teams are looking for minor pieces to complement an already deep pen. None of the relievers mentioned above really screams impact acquisition, but they all offer something that contending bullpens often don’t have – depth.
In all honesty, I have no idea whether Eppler and the Angels are even considering making calls to acquire relievers. If they are though, it’s hard to argue that the Blue Jays would be a great place to start.
With a sell-off of some capacity imminent, the relievers appear to be the first ones to go. With that being said, it’s imperative that the front office maximizes their return because as we’ve seen in the past, contenders (or wannabe contenders) will pay handsomely for pitching at the deadline.