Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Rumors

Los Angeles Angels trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Front Office Notes: Zduriencik, Dipoto, Anthopoulos

Jack Zduriencik’s tenure with the Mariners was characterized by long streams of firings, resignations and strife, Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times writes. Those began early in Zduriencik’s time in Seattle, with Zduriencik apparently frequently blaming others for the team’s problems under his leadership. Baker prints excerpts of a rather amazing email from Zduriencik to then-manager Don Wakamatsu about the struggling 2010 team in which Zduriencik seemed to blame his staff for the failures of the players he had acquired the previous offseason. “When putting this club together throughout the winter, everyone was involved,” Zduriencik wrote. “I asked many questions about the acquired players this offseason and in all cases moved forward to acquire or refrain from acquiring a player based on received recommendations.” He also suggested that the struggles of that 101-loss 2010 team might be due to a “lack of urgency and preparation,” implying that the coaching staff was to blame. The Mariners finally fired Zduriencik this week. Here’s more on front offices.

  • Former Angels GM Jerry Dipoto looks likely to be a talked-about name as the many teams with vacant GM positions search for candidates, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi writes. Dipoto appears likely to be a candidate for both the Brewers and Mariners jobs. The Mariners have said they will prioritize experience (which, obviously, Dipoto has), and Morosi notes that Dipoto was a finalist for the Mariners GM job years ago, when the team ultimately hired Zduriencik.
  • The Blue Jays are still seeking a team president, but when they hire one, that person will endure criticism if he or she fires GM Alex Anthopoulos, Morosi says. Anthopoulos’ acquisitions of veterans like Josh Donaldson, Russell Martin, Troy Tulowitzki and David Price have helped propel the Blue Jays to first place in the AL East. The team’s decision to keep Anthopoulos shouldn’t be a difficult one, Morosi says.

AL West Notes: Keuchel, Newcomb, Profar, Stearns

In light of recent reports about preliminary extension talks between the Astros and ace Dallas Keuchel, Fangraphs’ Craig Edwards examines the impact that a potential Cy Young Award would have on Keuchel’s arbitration case. Keuchel already has a very good chance at breaking the outdated record for a first-year arbitration-eligible pitcher (Dontrelle Willis’ $4.35MM record is, as Edwards notes, about a decade old). However, as Edwards explains, the arb process treats award-winners differently, and securing the Cy Young Award could boost his first-year arb price even further. As such, taking home the hardware for being the AL’s best pitcher in 2015, if it happens — and Keuchel indeed has a strong case — could make it difficult for team and player to agree to a fair price to put on Keuchel’s three arbitration seasons, let alone on his free agent years.

A few more items pertaining to the AL West…

  • In his latest Prospect Pipeline Inbox column, MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo kicks off by answering the question of whether or not Angels southpaw Sean Newcomb could pitch in the Majors in 2016. Mayo explains that while he wouldn’t have thought so prior to the 2015 campaign, Newcomb has impressively pitched at three levels this season, showing a consistent propensity for strikeouts and ground-balls and thereby placing himself on the fast track to the Majors. While the former No. 15 overall pick (2014) needs to hone his command and improve upon his 4.8 BB/9 rate, Mayo does feel that Newcomb is capable of reaching the Majors in the second half of the 2016 season.
  • Jurickson Profar played in his first regular-season game since Sept. 27, 2013 today, writes Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News. The former No. 1 overall prospect served as the designated hitter for the Rangers‘ Class-A affiliate today. He’ll continue to rehab there but only in a DH capacity for the remainder of this season. Profar, still just 22 years of age, has missed the past two seasons due to a pair of torn shoulder muscles. He was a consensus Top 10 prospect heading into the 2012 season before emerging as the game’s No. 1 prospect (per Baseball America, MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus) heading into the 2013 campaign. The Rangers will hope to have him healthy again in 2016.
  • As teams trend toward the hiring of younger, analytically savvy general managers, Astros assistant GM David Stearns’ name could become a target, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. While Drellich notes that it’s perhaps a bit early for Stearns to garner serious consideration from other clubs, GM Jeff Luhnow does feel that his lieutenant has the chops to handle a GM role down the line. “There’s several people in our organization that have GM potential, and David’s one of them,” Luhnow said. “I expect over the coming years, as we have success, they’ll get opportunities at least to interview.”

Minor MLB Transactions: 8/25/15

Here are the day’s minor moves from around the league…

  • Shortstop Pedro Florimon cleared waivers and was assigned outright to Triple-A Indianapolis, the Pirates announced today (on Twitter). Florimon was designated for assignment last week to clear room on the roster for right-hander Josh Wall (who has since been designated himself). The 28-year-old offers little at the plate but has speed and, more importantly, an excellent glove at shortstop. He’s played sparingly in the Majors since serving as the Twins’ primary shortstop in 2013.
  • Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register tweets that third baseman Conor Gillaspie cleared waivers after being designated for assignment by the Angels and has been outrighted to Triple-A Salt Lake City. Gillaspie has spent the past three seasons as the White Sox’ primary option at the hot corner, but he struggled in 2015 and was designated for assignment by Chicago. The Halos claimed him, but he didn’t fare much better in Anaheim before being designated a second time. He’s slashed a combined .228/.269/.359 between the two clubs this season — a far cry from the .265/.322/.404 line he compiled in 2013-14.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Utley, Angels, Zobrist, Zimmermann, Giants, Execs

In his latest notes column for FOX Sports, Ken Rosenthal looks at the failed attempt to acquire Chase Utley made by both the Angels and Cubs. Anaheim “blew it” by not adding Utley, opines Rosenthal, as the Halos had more playing time to offer than the Dodgers but didn’t pull the trigger on a deal despite only having acquired “complementary hitters” in July. (That seems harsh, as there’s no guarantee that the current iteration of Utley is anything more than a complementary piece himself.) As for the Cubs, they initially showed interest while Utley was still hurt, but Utley wasn’t comfortable being traded while on a rehab assignment, says Rosenthal, so the Phils waited to put him through waivers. By the time he returned, Howie Kendrick had been hurt in L.A., creating a match with the Dodgers.

Some more highlights from the column…

  • As others have noted, the Angels‘ GM opening is a tough sell to prospective candidates because Arte Moreno is more involved than the average owner, and Mike Scioscia has more power than the average manager. One rival general manager described the Angels’ GM role to Rosenthal as such: “You take all of the beatings (from Moreno) and you’ve got no power (due to Scioscia).” Jerry Dipoto resigned from his post this summer due to reported clashes with Scioscia.
  • The Blue Jays tried to trade for Ben Zobrist, but the Athletics‘ asking price was Matt Boyd plus other pieces, Rosenthal hears, which was too steep for GM Alex Anthopoulos. Boyd was ultimately one of three pieces used to acquire David Price from the Tigers.
  • Rosenthal reports that the Giants are likely to pursue right-hander Jordan Zimmermann as they look to bulk up their rotation this offseason. However, he notes that the Wisconsin native may prefer to return to the Midwest. Zimmermann ranked eighth on the most recent edition of MLBTR’s Free Agent Power Rankings, though he’s had a couple of rough starts since then.
  • The Giants may also consider attempting to unload the final year of Angel Pagan‘s contract this winter. Pagan is slated to earn $10MM next season in the final season of a four-year, $40MM contract after playing in just 167 games from 2013-14 and struggling at the plate in 102 games to this point in 2015. San Francisco could use Gregor Blanco in center field in the event that they’re able to move Pagan.
  • The recent trend of teams promoting an assistant GM to GM and a current GM to president (as the White Sox and Giants have done) could continue this offseason as teams try to prevent their top AGMs from departing for GM vacancies elsewhere, Rosenthal writes. The Rangers could promote Thad Levine to GM (and presumably elevate Jon Daniels), for instance, and the Cardinals could promote Mike Girsch (presumably promoting GM John Mozeliak as well). And, should Mark Shapiro end up with the Blue Jays, the Indians could bump Mike Chernoff to GM and make Chris Antonetti president (Cleveland previously did his by moving Shapiro from GM to president and Antonetti from AGM to GM). Levine, Girsch and Chernoff could all attract interest from other teams this winter.

West Notes: Padres, Morrow, Norris, Doolittle, Furbush, Freese

ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick provides an interesting look at mid-year starting pitcher rental trades, examining the risks and rewards inherent in such a decision. He reaches back into recent history to see how deals for high-end arms worked out for the teams that made them, and includes a variety of interesting quotes from executives involved in this year’s deals. It’s well worth a full read.

Here are some notes from the game’s western divisions:

  • The Padres passed on a chance to deal significant pitchers before and after the July 31 deadline, and now seem unlikely to make any further significant deals, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune tweets. Many of San Diego’s potential trade chips have been claimed on waivers and subsequently withdrawn when a deal could not be arrived at. While starter James Shields has reportedly cleared, Ian Kennedy and Joaquin Benoit are two notable players who are said to be off limits at this point.
  • While his season ended with another surgery, righty Brandon Morrow could still be brought back by the Padres next year, assistant GM Josh Stein tells MLB.com’s Corey Brock“I think it’s early, but we acquired [Morrow] knowing that there was a risk of an injury and the contract was structured to take that into account,” explained Stein. “I certainly wouldn’t say that there’s not an opportunity to explore something similar going forward.” Morrow said that he “hope[s] to come back, for sure,” though he acknowledged that he is “a ways away from a decision.”
  • Meanwhile, just-signed Padres righty Bud Norris says he is enjoying working from the pen but still hopes to return to the rotation, Lin reports. Norris, 30, has had a nice four-inning scoreless streak to start his time with the Friars, and will certainly draw some interest on the free agent market this winter given his relative youth and track record of delivering solid innings.
  • With his velocity solid and results excellent, rehabbing Athletics closer Sean Doolittle could make it back to the bigs in the coming days, MLB.com’s Jane Lee writes. Doolittle, 28, has made just one appearance in the majors this year for the disappointing A’s, but it’s certainly a good sign for his long-term prospects that he’s responded so well to ongoing rotator cuff issues.
  • Mariners southpaw Charlie Furbush, meanwhile, has a partially torn rotator cuff of his own to deal with, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports (Twitter links). Fortunately, Furbush says the injury appears to be relatively minor and may not require surgery. The 29-year-old has put up a 2.08 ERA with 7.1 K/9 against 2.1 BB/9 in 21 2/3 frames on the year. He played the year on a $1.3MM salary and can be controlled for two more seasons via arbitration.
  • The Angels can expect a return in relatively short order from third baseman David Freese, MLB.com’s David Adler reports. Freese has been out since July 22, and the Halos have struggled to find a replacement in his absence. The 32-year-old has hit at his usual league-average pace this year (.240/.309/.397) while providing steady defense. He’ll have a chance to bolster his stock before hitting the free agent market after the season.

Angels Designate Conor Gillaspie For Assignment

The Angels have designated third baseman Conor Gillaspie for assignment in order to clear space on the 40-man and 25-man roster for Kaleb Cowart, according to an announcement from team director of communications Eric Kay (on Twitter).

Acquired from the White Sox last month in exchange for cash considerations, Gillaspie appeared in 17 games for the Halos but saw his already diminished offensive production decline even further. The 27-year-old batted just .203/.250/.344 in 68 plate appearances with the Angels, who had hoped that his acquisition would lessen the blow of losing David Freese to a fractured finger.

Gillaspie was a solid bat for the White Sox from 2013-14, hitting .265/.322/.404 with 20 homers over the course of 264 games and serving largely in a platoon capacity due to his struggles versus left-handed pitching. If he lands with another club, Gillaspie will be arbitration eligible this winter and controllable through the 2018 season via that process.

The 23-year-old Cowart was the 18th pick of the 2010 draft and ranked among the game’s Top 100 prospects as recently as 2013, but his stock faded with poor production that year and again in 2014. The third baseman has restored some of the previous shine that came with his name in 2015, however, slashing .323/.395/.491 with six homers across 253 plate appearances in his first experience at the Triple-A level.

West Notes: Shoemaker, Holland, Padres, Cain

The Angels demoted righty Matt Shoemaker to Triple-A today, capping off what has been a disappointing season for the 28-year-old.  Coming off an impressive 2014 rookie campaign, Shoemaker has been inconsistent this year, and his rough last two outings (13 ER in just 7 1/3 combined innings) apparently convinced the Angels that he needed a breather in the minors.  Shoemaker has a 4.76 ERA over 117 1/3 innings this season, though advanced metrics — such as a 3.80 SIERA, 4.01 xFIP, 8.1 K/9 and 3.5 K/BB rate — suggest he’s pitched better than his ERA indicates.  Shoemaker’s demotion leaves the Halos with a four-man rotation for now; right-hander Nick Tropeano is probably a good bet to be promoted, as he’s already made a couple of spot starts for Los Angeles this season.

Here’s some more from both the AL and NL West divisions…

  • The Rangers will decide tomorrow whether Derek Holland will be activated from the DL and start on Wednesday, Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News writes.  Holland told reporters that he felt good after a full bullpen session today, and he is ready to make just his second appearance of 2015.  Holland has played in just seven games in 2014-15 due to knee surgery, back spasms and a shoulder injury, the latter being responsible for his current DL stint.
  • The Padres didn’t move any of their big names prior to the July trade deadline and ESPN’s Christina Kahrl believes the team may similarly stand pat in August.  Dealing away controllable young players wouldn’t have helped the team contend in 2016, and veterans like Ian Kennedy or Joaquin Benoit wouldn’t have brought premium prospects back in return.  As for bigger-name veterans, Justin Upton may not have netted more than the first-round pick the Padres would obtain when Upton rejects a qualifying offer and possibly leaves in free agency this winter.  As for James Shields, Kahrl points out that the righty had a long wait on the open market last winter, so teams who passed on Shields then may not be eager to give up prospects to acquire him now.
  • It took a lot of work to get Colin Rea to the majors, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes in a profile of the rookie right-hander’s growth from being a lightly-regarded project of a prospect to a Padres starter.
  • The moving and organizational switches that come with being a pro ballplayer can be especially hard for a player’s family, the Arizona Republic’s Zach Buchanan illustrates in an interview with Taylor Ray (wife of Diamondbacks lefty Robbie Ray) and the wives of several other D’Backs players.
  • Mike Leake‘s return from the DL this week will force the Giants to make a pitching roster move, and CSNBayArea.com’s Alex Pavlovic writes that bumping Matt Cain from the rotation is an option the club is considering.  Cain has struggled through an injury-plagued season, posting a 6.05 ERA in only 41 2/3 innings.

Minor MLB Transactions: 8/16/15

Here are the latest minor moves, with the newest transactions at the top of the post…

  • The Braves purchased the contract of right-hander Peter Moylan from Triple-A Gwinnett prior to today’s game, and the Australian tossed two-thirds of an inning in the 2-1 win over the Diamondbacks.  This was Moylan’s first Major League outing since 2013; the 36-year-old has been plagued by injuries over the last five years, most notably missing all of 2014 recovering from Tommy John surgery.  Moylan signed a minor league deal with Atlanta this past March and he’s posted a 3.14 ERA over 28 2/3 Triple-A innings.
  • Amidst a flurry of call-ups and DL placements today, the Angels purchased the contract of shortstop Ryan Jackson from Triple-A.  To create a 40-man roster spot, C.J. Wilson was transferred to the 60-day disabled list.  Jackson joined the Angels organization in May after being dealt from Kansas City for Drew Butera, and he has hit .293/.371/.373 in 363 plate appearances for Triple-A Salt Lake City.  Jackson’s big league experience consists of 25 PA with the Cardinals in 2012-13.
  • Right-hander Taylor Thompson has cleared waivers and been outrighted to the Athletics‘ Triple-A affiliate, MLB.com’s Jane Lee reports (Twitter link).  Thompson, who’s been limited to just 8 2/3 minor league innings this season due to a shoulder injury, was designated for assignment on Friday.
  • While Thompson is now out of “DFA Limbo,” nine players are still awaiting their next assignment.  Check out the MLB Trade Rumors DFA Tracker to keep track of their status.

Latest On Phillies, Chase Utley

Chase Utley wants to join a contender on the West Coast and preferably in his native Southern California, two executives involved in the discussions told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  The second baseman holds full no-trade rights, so he’ll have say over where he goes or whether he leaves Philly at all.

The Angels and Giants are said to have interest, but Rosenthal writes that the right fit might never arise for the Phillies and the 36-year-old.  Utley has never asked the Phillies for a trade and would only leave the organization reluctantly, sources tell the FOX Sports scribe.  Also, while teams are interested, they are reluctant to give up much for a seven-week rental who is owed $6MM+, including a $2MM buyout on his 2016 option.

On the flipside, Utley could have incentive to green light a trade since going to a contender could enhance his value this winter.  The Phillies could also sweeten the pot with some cash to get a suitable return and make a deal happen.

The Cubs are still in the mix for the veteran, but given his California preference, they are not his first choice.  The Cubs also might not want to disrupt a team that has won 15 of its last 16 games heading into today’s contest against the White Sox, Rosenthal writes.  The Yankees could offer more playing time than any other suitor, but they’re on the wrong coast for the veteran.  The Dodgers, in theory, fit the bill as a Cali contender with a need at second base, but Howie Kendrick could return in two weeks and Kiké Hernandez has been doing well in that spot so far.

Angels Still Hope To Acquire Utley

The Angels thought they were close to acquiring Phillies second baseman Chase Utley yesterday, tweets Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. The club still hopes to add the veteran second baseman per Gonzalez although the team is more pessimistic than yesterday per reports. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal points out that it’s a complicated trade (via Twitter). The Phillies have to agree on a prospect, the two sides have to work out the roughly $6MM guaranteed left on his contract, and Utley has full no-trade protection. He plans to use it to ensure he’ll have an active role on his new club.

Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times adds (tweet) that Utley is also considering the 2016 season with regard to his no-trade rights. Since his $16MM vesting option is out of reach, Utley will have a club option valued between $5MM and $11MM based on time spent on the disabled list. This is my speculation, but it’s possible Utley may ask to have the option guaranteed.

While many assume an acquiring team will opt to use his $2MM buyout, the 2014 version of Utley was well worth a one-year deal of no more than $11MM. Per FanGraphs’ WAR metric, Utley was worth 4.5 wins last season. While his 2015 numbers are obviously miserable, Utley reportedly made a mechanical fix related to his injured ankle. FanGraphs’ Jeff Sullivan has the details with some video. As of this writing, Utley is 13-for-25 since returning from the disabled list with six extra base hits (including a double and a home run tonight). For now, it’s believable that he’s reverted to his previous talent level.