Angels Should Pursue Javy Lopez

Javy Lopez and his agent have been making a stir lately, pushing for a contract extension or a trade.  Lopez is in the last year of a three-year deal, and will make $8.5MM in 2006.

A recent Baltimore Sun article mentioned:

"The Orioles have had some discussions with teams about Lopez, including a potential trade for Angels first baseman/outfielder Darin Erstad during the winter meetings, but the Angels weren’t interested in making the deal."

In between the flurry of rumors back in December, this is one I missed.  The Angels should not have dismissed this trade so quickly.

Erstad makes the same salary as Lopez in 2006, so that’s a wash.  The team plans on employing him in center field in 2006, and another season of .273/.325/.371 wouldn’t look quite so bad with the position change.  Still, the average American League center fielder hit .268/.322/.407 in 2005, so his bat’s not exactly an asset.  His defenders will point to his glovework; Erstad won a much-deserved Gold Glove playing center field in 2002.

But will Erstad be the same center fielder he was four years ago?  Highly unlikely.  My guess is that he’ll play average defense at this point at best.  Chone Figgins would be a better overall solution in center field.  That would allow Dallas McPherson to get another crack at third base, where he’s still primed to hit 30 HR in a full season.  The Angels would upgrade significantly behind the plate by bringing in Lopez, as Jeff Mathis could learn on the job as a backup.  Acquiring Lopez for Erstad would be an excellent move for the Angels.

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