Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Rumors

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

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.

Latest On Chase Utley Trade Talks

We heard earlier today that the Angels are looking into a trade for Phillies second baseman Chase Utley. While there are some barriers to a deal there, as there are with other possible destinations, it seems to be one of several viable landings spots. Here’s the latest on the long-time star:

  • There is “credible buzz” that the Astros are also involved in pursuing Utley, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com tweets. Obviously Houston has Jose Altuve entrenched at second and can play both Jed Lowrie and Luis Valbuena at third. But Salisbury says that the team could utilize Utley at first and/or the DH slot, where the club is currently struggling to find consistent production. The Astros join five other previously-reported teams with interest, including their primary competition in the AL West.
  • Executives involved in the discussions say they expect Utley will end up deciding whether to waive his no-trade protection for the Cubs or Angels, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. It’s not entirely clear whether those two clubs are most appealing to the team or to Utley, let alone what kind of process is being pursued to arrive at a decision.
  • The Giants join the Cubs and Angels atop Utley’s preference list, according to MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki. As he notes, one major question with San Francisco is the status of Joe Panik, who will presumably slot back in as the regular second baseman when he returns from injury.

Angels “Exploring Possibility” Of Chase Utley Trade

The Angels are “exploring the possibility” of a trade for Phillies second baseman Chase Utley, reports Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com (All Twitter links). However, as Gonzalez notes, the Angels don’t feel they have a great deal of roster flexibility, as they don’t see an easy call to option or designate for assignment in order to clear room. Gonzalez adds that the extent of the Angels’ interest isn’t clear, especially with Johnny Giavotella hitting well this month, although Utley could see some reps at first base in Anaheim as well.

Utley’s still owed about $4.43MM this season, plus a $2MM buyout on a club option that will not automatically vest, as he’ll fall shy of 500 plate appearances required for that guarantee to trigger. The 36-year-old has already cleared waivers, making him eligible to be dealt to any team, but his 10-and-5 rights are still in effect, giving him the power to veto any trade of which he does not approve. ESPN’s Buster Olney reported yesterday that Utley was seeking a guarantee of playing time in any trade.

The 28-year-old Giavotella has somewhat surprisingly held down the Angels’ second base gig all season, hitting .271/.320/.359 along the way. Defensive metrics peg him as sub-par at second base, however, leading both rWAR and fWAR to value him as little more than a replacement-level option when combined with his slightly below-average bat. Of course, there’s no guarantee that Utley would provide a superior alternative, as he hit poorly all season before landing on the DL for more than a month. He’s 7-for-17 since being activated, but that does little to nothing to erase his earlier woes.

Some may question the aforementioned lack of roster flexibility on the Angels, but the team clearly feels committed to keeping Rule 5 pick Taylor Featherston on the roster despite the absence of offensive production (.126/.181/.195). Shane Victorino hasn’t hit since his acquisition, but he does have just 27 plate appearances with the Halos and would figure to have a lengthier leash than that. Matt Joyce has struggled at the plate all season long, but he’s on the disabled list due to concussion symptoms as opposed to occupying a spot on the active roster.

C.J. Wilson To Undergo Season-Ending Elbow Surgery

As expected, Angels starter C.J. Wilson has decided to undergo elbow surgery and will miss the rest of the season, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports on Twitter. Wilson is expected to be ready for the spring.

Wilson was reportedly weighing whether or not to go under the knife after dealing with multiple bone spurs all season long. He’s previously had clean-up operations with good results, and was able to toss over two hundred innings in 2013 after having bone spurs removed over the prior offseason.

Wilson topped that inning mark in four straight seasons, including his first two with the Angels, but fell shy last year and will do so again in 2015. He’ll wrap up his season with 132 frames of 3.89 ERA pitching, with 7.5 K/9 against 3.1 BB/9. The Halos owe Wilson $20MM next year, the final season of his contract.

At this point, it’s no surprise to the Angels that they’ll be without Wilson, and an outside addition seems unlikely. But it certainly hurts to lose depth, and the injury (plus his large salary) will make it rather difficult for the team to consider trading Wilson over the winter.

AL West Notes: Martinez, Wilson, Astros, Davis

The Rangers optioned right-hander Nick Martinez to Triple-A following yesterday’s poor outing versus the Twins, and as Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News points out, it looks like the option will be a costly one for Martinez. The 25-year-old has already spent 18 days in the minors this season, and barring a quick recall due to an injury, his collective time at the Triple-A level will likely be large enough to prevent him from accruing a full year of service time, thus delaying his free agency by a season. However, as Grant stresses, this isn’t an instance of a team manipulating service time. Rather, Martinez’s poor outing exhausted the bullpen yesterday and eliminated the possibility of working with a short relief corps for a few days. Martinez’s recent play hasn’t done him any favors, either; he’s pitched to a 6.25 ERA over his previous 11 outings after a brilliant start to the season.

Here’s more from the AL West…

  • There’s been no final decision made on whether or not Angels lefty C.J. Wilson will undergo season-ending surgery, writes MLB.com’s Greg Garno. Wilson had a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache recently, and while the meeting revealed nothing new, per manager Mike Scioscia, the decision is solely up to Wilson. “Once he gets all the information, I’m sure we’ll get the results from it and see what C.J.’s decision is,” said Scioscia. The Angels are currently waiting for Wilson to “digest” all of the info and make the call, according to Scioscia. Wilson reportedly has eight bone spurs in his elbow which will need to be surgically removed at some point.
  • The Astros have had a rough stretch of games on the road, but GM Jeff Luhnow tells the Houston Chronicle’s Evan Drellich that he’s confident due to the quality of pitching he’s received as well as the quality of upper-level players who will join the team in September. The Astros currently have a logjam of corner/DH options that will be magnified by the return of George Springer. As Drellich writes, though, it’s difficult to justify the loss of a player like Chris Carter for little to no return (that is, by way of DFA or waiver claim) when expanded rosters are just under two weeks away.
  • Alex Hall of Athletics Nation makes a case for the A’s to cut ties with Ike Davis sooner rather than later. As Hall notes, Davis hasn’t hit since coming off the DL in May, and his $3.8MM salary figures to increase even after a down season simply due to the nature of the arbitration process. Davis only has a year of team control remaining anyhow, so he’s not likely to be a long-term piece in Oakland, and the A’s could do well to replace him with a cheaper set of lottery tickets in 2016 as opposed to paying him north of $4MM. Davis was already acquired for very little last offseason, Hall points out, and a season marred by injury and more poor performance at the plate will sap him of any meaningful trade value this winter. Releasing him now would give Davis a chance to latch on with a contending team that wants to roll the dice on his previous success in the season’s final six weeks, which would be beneficial to both Davis and the A’s, Hall concludes.

NL Central Notes: Brewers’ GM Search, Cubs, Barnhart

The Brewers‘ search for a new general manager has only been officially underway for a day, but Bob Nightengale of USA Today hears (Twitter link) that the team is likely to hire someone from outside the organization, with Angels assistant general manager Scott Servais as one “intriguing name [that’s] surfacing.” MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, however, tweets a different take, noting that he’s heard current scouting director Ray Montgomery has a good chance at being tabbed to fill the vacancy. Yesterday, the team announced that Doug Melvin would transition to an advisory role, with a search for a new GM beginning immediately. (Melvin, for the time being, is still the team’s acting GM though.)

Here’s more from the NL Central…

  • Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said today on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (Twitter link) that the bulk of starting pitchers that will be available this offseason impacted the team’s strategy for last month’s non-waiver trade deadline.  The Cubs were linked to various controllable starters, but ended up adding veteran Dan Haren on deadline day.
  • Of course, the Cubs could still look to add some pitching help this month, but president of baseball operations Theo Epstein tells Bruce Levine of 670 The Score/CBS Chicago that the team isn’t currently close to any deals (Twitter link). As Epstein noted, sometimes things don’t really pick up on that front until the end of August.
  • Though the absence of Devin Mesoraco has hurt the Reds this season, it’s also created the opportunity for young backstop Tucker Barnhart to play his way into a future role with the team, writes the Cincinnai Enquirer’s C. Trent Rosecrans. While Mesoraco is still the Reds’ long-term catcher, Rosecrans spoke to manager Bryan Price about how impressed Price has been with the 24-year-old Barnhart. Price said that when it came to Barnhart, the biggest question surrounding him would be if his bat would be good enough to handle an extended stint if something were to happen to Mesoraco, but the team has been impressed with Barnhart in exactly that scenario. Entering play tonight, Barnhart was hitting .259/.338/.353 with three homers. “When he comes to the plate, I feel that he’s going to do something good,” said Price. “…There’s been nothing about his game that’s been disappointing. Offensively, he’s been a lot more than I expected.”

Quick Hits: Rookies, Brewers, Glasnow, Angels

It’s still early August but the rookie class of 2015 is on the verge of becoming the most productive (via fWAR) first-year crop in the history of the game, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan writes.  The AstrosCarlos Correa leads the way, and Passan hears from two general managers who already rank Correa amongst the top 5-10 players in the game.  Rookie position players are generally outshining the rookie pitchers, though this season has still seen several impressive young arms like Noah Syndergaard, Joe Ross, Aaron Nola and Lance McCullers make their debuts.  Here’s more from around the baseball world as we wrap up the weekend…

  • The Brewers‘ midseason trades have heavily upgraded their farm system, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes.  Baseball America’s John Manuel is describes the Brew Crew’s improvements as “pretty amazing,” saying the team went “from a middle of the pack (farm) system to a top five or 10 system.”  Haudricourt breaks down the projected new top 10 prospects in the Brewers’ system.
  • With the Pirates lacking in rotation depth, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review wonders if the team would consider calling up top prospect Tyler Glasnow.  The Bucs could break their pattern of being conservative with minor league promotions if it meant adding a premium arm for the playoff race, like how Gerrit Cole‘s call-up in 2013 helped carry the team into the postseason.  Glasnow, a consensus top-16 prospect (as per MLB.com, Baseball America and ESPN’s Keith Law) prior to the season, has a combined 2.41 ERA, 11.6 K/9 and 3.61 K/BB rate over 78 1/3 innings over three levels, though he’s made only two starts at Triple-A.
  • There’s a perception around the game that an experienced executive like Dave Dombrowski may not want to take the Angels‘ GM job given the perceived lack of power a GM would have with Arte Moreno and Mike Scioscia wielding most of the influence, The Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin writes.  Then again, Shaikin notes, pundits said the same thing about the Orioles’ front office situation a few years ago prior to Dan Duquette’s hiring, and the O’s have since thrived.  Shaikin doesn’t think Dombrowski will end up in Anaheim, but rather could join the Blue Jays or the Mariners front office.

Heyman’s Latest: Padres/Reds, Gausman, Cubs, Rox, Cespedes, Marlins

In his latest Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports provides a laundry list of free agent and trade-related info. He kicks off the piece with a lengthy look at the curiously passive approaches of two teams that were seen as likely to be active sellers: the Reds and Padres. San Diego GM A.J. Preller told Heyman that his team discussed a number of deals and felt that, ultimately, the long-term nature of most of the Padres’ trade chips outweighed the value they were offered. The one notable exception is Justin Upton, who, as first reported by Buster Olney, could’ve fetched Michael Fulmer from the Mets. Regarding Upton talks, Preller told Heyman: “…the evaluation was what we’re being offered versus the value of the pick and having Justin for the rest of the year. There were offers right on the line, but none that made us move.” As for the Reds, Heyman notes that many are questioning the team’s decision to hang onto Aroldis Chapman, who is controlled through 2016, when the Reds may not be competitive until 2017. The Reds backed out of a Jay Bruce-for-Zack Wheeler swap, a source tells Heyman, with a second source telling him that Cincinnati simply “got cold feet” when it came to dealing Bruce. He also spoke to a number of executives who expressed disbelief that neither team was more active at the deadline.

Some more highlights from his column, though there’s far more in the full article than can be summarized here, so it’s worth reading in its entirety…

  • The Diamondbacks are still seeking an elite closer after coming up empty in their pursuit of Aroldis Chapman, and they might pursue him again this winter. Heyman lists their priorities as: a closer, a starting pitcher (someone below the tier of Johnny Cueto/David Price) and a bat to slot behind Paul Goldschmidt in the order. The Snakes talked about deals for Jeremy Hellickson, Oliver Perez and Cliff Pennington. They came the closest to trading Hellickson, who drew interest from the Pirates and Blue Jays, he adds.
  • Kevin Gausman‘s name was very popular in trade talks with the Orioles, as he was asked for by the Rockies (in exchange for Carlos Gonzalez), the Tigers (Yoenis Cespedes) and Padres (Justin Upton). The Orioles also talked to the Dodgers about Carl Crawford (for a lesser package) but found his injury history and contract too risky.
  • Others are “convinced” that the Cubs will land one of the top starting pitchers on the market this winter, with Price as a leading candidate but Zack Greinke, Jordan Zimmermann and Cueto all landing on Chicago’s radar as well. The Cubs are expected to shop both Starlin Castro and Javier Baez this winter. The Padres‘ interest in Baez has been reported many places, though they do have some reservations about Baez’s approach at the plate (as, I would imagine, most teams do).
  • The Blue Jays, Astros and Giants all expressed interest in White Sox righty Jeff Samardzija, but the White Sox‘ winning streak plus so-so offers led the team to hold onto the right-hander. Heyman hears that the return would’ve been similar to the one the Reds ultimately got in exchange for Mike Leake, so the Sox simply held onto Samardzija. (Speaking of Leake, he adds that industry consensus pegs Leake as the most likely rental to stay with his new club — perhaps not surprising given Leake’s ties to California and the Giants’ history of retaining such pieces.)
  • The Indians received interest not only in Carlos Carrasco, but also in Danny Salazar, Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber. The Dodgers, Cubs and Red Sox all tried for Carrasco.
  • The Rockies were always more motivated to trade Troy Tulowitzki than Carlos Gonzalez, as the drama surrounding Tulo had become soap-opera-esque. The team didn’t shop Jose Reyes after the Tulo deal but did have his name come up in talks; Heyman writes that the Yankees are one club that “may have fit,” as they could’ve used him at second base.
  • The Angels made a brief run at Yoenis Cespedes but didn’t come close to landing him. Cespedes won the hearts of Mets fans in part by expressing an interest in signing long-term to remain in Queens, but as Heyman notes, Cespedes did the same in Boston and Detroit without any results. A long-term pact between the Mets and Cespedes is more likely than a reunion with the Tigers though, Heyman writes, as Detroit isn’t likely to enter a bidding war for the outfielder, let alone win one.
  • The Dodgers showed more interest in Cole Hamels than they did in either Price or Cueto. They were completely closed off to the idea of trading either Corey Seager or Julio Urias, though. He adds that right-hander Jose DeLeon wasn’t available in talks for rental pieces, which could imply that he was at least attainable in Hamels talks.
  • Dan Jennings is expected to be welcomed back to the Marlins‘ front office this winter, when the team will search for a long-term manager to replace him. The Marlins are also planning on trying to extend Dee Gordon and Adeiny Hechavarria this offseason, he hears. Talks for Hechavarria went nowhere last winter, and the shortstop’s batting line is nearly identical to its 2014 mark. Defensive metrics are far more impressed with Hechavarria’s work this season, though, for what it’s worth.
  • While Rays relief aces Jake McGee and Brad Boxberger were oft-mentioned in rumors leading up to the deadline, other teams came away with the impression that Tampa Bay wasn’t that interested in moving either.
  • There’s an “unhappy scene” surrounding the Nationals and manager Matt Williams, Heyman hears. Williams isn’t beloved by many of the team’s players, who feel that he’s “not loose” and “never relaxed.” There are those who have also questioned his bullpen usage, from the decision not to use Drew Storen/Tyler Clippard in the final game of last year’s NLDS to leaving both Jonathan Papelbon and Storen in the bullpen in close road games versus the Mets shortly after acquiring Papelbon (only to have both pitch with a five-run deficit in the next series). Heyman spoke to one Nats player who said the team is loose and has fun regardless of Williams’ demeanor. “I don’t think it affects us,” said the player. “That’s just how he is.”

Minor MLB Transactions: 8/4/2015

We’ll track the day’s minor moves here:

  • The Giants announced today that infielder Joaquin Arias has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A (Twitter link). The versatile 30-year-old hit just .207/.207/.276 in 59 plate appearances in 2015 — the second season of a two-year, $2.6MM contract he signed to avoid arbitration following the 2013 season.
  • Left-hander Aaron Laffey has cleared waivers and been assigned outright to Triple-A, tweets MLB.com’s Dargan Southard. Lackey will have the option to reject the assignment in favor of free agency. The veteran lefty pitched 7 1/3 innings for the Rockies this season, allowing three runs on eight hits and three walks with three strikeouts.

Earlier Updates

  • Red Sox infielder Jemile WeeksAngels righty Vinnie Pestano, and Cubs outfielder Mike Baxter have all accepted their outright assignments rather than electing to test the free agent waters, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reports (Twitter links). The trio of players were all designated for assignment recently as their clubs looked to free roster space for deadline acquisitions. Weeks, 28, has seen only a smattering of big league action since playing as a full-timer in 2011-12. Pestano has been a solid reliever over several full seasons, but has struggled mightily with his control this year. The 30-year-old Baxter will also head to the upper minors to serve as depth after putting up a .246/.348/.263 slash over 66 plate appearances with Chicago.