Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Rumors

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

Minor MLB Transactions: 7/26/15

Here are today’s minor moves from around the game.

  • The Pirates activated infielder Justin Sellers from the disabled list and outrighted to Triple-A Indianapolis, Adam Berry of MLB.com tweets.  Sellers, who has been dealing with an Achilles injury, had been on the 60-day DL, so the move does not change the Pirates’ 40-man roster, which currently stands at 39.
  • The Angels have outrighted lefty Adam Wilk to Triple-A Salt Lake, according to MLB.com’s transactions page. The team designated Wilk for assignment on Friday. Wilk has pitched two innings for the Angels and has spent most of the season in Salt Lake’s rotation, posting a 5.52 ERA, 6.4 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 102 2/3 innings.

Angels Acquire Conor Gillaspie, Designate Adam Wilk

12:23pm: Los Angeles has designated pitcher Adam Wilk for assignment to clear 40-man space, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports on Twitter.

The 27-year-old has made just one appearance at the big league level this year and nine in his career. He owns a 5.52 ERA over 102 2/3 Triple-A frames, with 6.4 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9.

12:04pm: The Angels announced that they’ve acquired third baseman Conor Gillaspie from the White Sox in exchange for cash considerations. Gillaspie had been designated for assignment by Chicago.

Gillaspie, 28, has struggled to a .237/.276/.364 slash line in 185 big league plate appearances this year. Mix in unfavorable defensive ratings, and he’s been worth a full win below replacement level (by measure of Fangraphs).

To be sure, the still-youthful infielder has shown more in the past. Though his defense has never drawn rave reviews, he managed a sturdy .282/.336/.416 batting line over 506 plate appearances last year. His walks are down while his strikeouts and grounder rate are up in 2015, none of which bode well, but a .275 BABIP isn’t doing him any favors either.

Regardless, the Angels won’t expect more than a fill-in performance from Gillaspie. The Halos have at least a short-term need at third base with David Freese on the disabled list due to a fractured index finger. Adding (at no real cost) an experienced player with a left-handed bat makes sense in the interim, while the club monitors Freese and continues to explore more promising players.

AL West Notes: Iwakuma, Samardzija, Astros, Angels

With a string of three consecutive strong starts under his belt, Hisashi Iwakuma would make for an interesting trade candidate, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. However, as Sherman reports, the Mariners remain hesitant to undergo any sort of sale of veteran pieces as the trade deadline nears. Iwakuma, who’s earning just $7MM this season ($2.86MM remaining), has now allowed just four runs over his past 20 2/3 innings, striking out 18 hitters against four walks in that time. Iwakuma’s name — and the Mariners’ likely reluctance to sell — are both topics that came up on today’s edition of the MLBTR Podcast.

A few more notes from around the AL West…

  • The Astros discussed Jeff Samardzija with the White Sox prior to acquiring Scott Kazmir earlier today, tweets Jerry Crasnick of ESPN. The lack of a consummated trade was not due to the fact that the White Sox weren’t willing to part ways with Samardzija, a source tells Crasnick (Twitter link), but rather just due to the fact that the Astros deemed Kazmir a better fit.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the Astros aren’t ruling anything out when it comes to their next move on the trade market. The team could use another bullpen arm — GM Jeff Luhnow has voiced a preference to add a flamethrower — and another bat would make sense as well. However, the Astros’ priority, as one team official tells Rosenthal, is simply “talent.” It would seem, then, that the Astros are open to making further moves to bolster their rotation rather than limiting themselves to bullpen or lineup additions.
  • The Angels were already looking at potential third base upgrades before losing David Freese for at least three weeks last night, tweets Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. They’re continuing to look at the market for third basemen, but an outfield bat remains the Halos’ top priority, according to Fletcher. Freese hit the DL last night after a Mike Pelfrey fastball broke his right index finger.
  • In the meantime, though, it’ll be Kyle Kubitza occupying Freese’s roster spot. The Angels recalled Kubitza, a 25-year-old prospect acquired from the Braves in an offseason swap, prior to today’s game vs. the Twins. Taylor Featherston got the start at third base, though Kubitza did enter the game as a pinch-hitter.

David Freese To Be Placed On DL With Fractured Finger

Angels third baseman David Freese was hit by a pitch from Minnesota’s Mike Pelfrey tonight and will be placed on the disabled list with a fractured in his hand, tweets Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. Gonzalez further clarifies that it’s a fractured index finger for Freese. The finger is already in a splint, which Freese will have to wear for at least the next two weeks (Twitter links). Freese’s hope is that he can return within three weeks.

The loss of Freese comes on the heels of a report from Gonzalez that the Angels, who are looking for help at the leadoff spot and in the middle of the order, are slightly prioritizing a power bat over a top-of-the-order catalyst. Freese and his roughly league-average production have occupied the five spot in the Halos’ lineup for much of the season, but according to Gonzalez, they were already interested in adding a bat, possibly in left field, that could move into that spot and push Freese down the lineup. One would imagine, then, that the loss of Freese only serves to enhance the club’s desire to add an authoritative presence behind Mike Trout and Albert Pujols in the heart of the order.

Gonzalez and the OC Register’s Jeff Fletcher both reported today that the Angels, who previously had been said to prefer controllable bats, have now warmed to the idea of adding rental players. Fletcher added that beyond that openness, the club is now considering right-handed bats after previously preferring lefty hitters.

The Angels do have a fairly Major League ready replacement in Kyle Kubitza. The 25-year-old prospect was acquired from the Braves this winter and is hitting .276/.346/.446 at Triple-A this season. His first taste of Major League action earlier in the year didn’t go particularly well, though, and while the Angels hope that he’s their third baseman of the future, it’s not certain that they’re willing to hand him a significant role in the midst of a pennant race while Freese mends. He could be a short-term stopgap, but adding a player that’s at least capable of playing third base would seem to be a reasonable target for the Halos.

The Angels have been linked to outfield bats such as Jay Bruce, Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Reddick, Ben Revere and Gerardo Parra, though I personally wonder if the injury to Freese will lead to interest in players capable of handling multiple infield spots. Ben Zobrist‘s name is popular on this year’s trade market, but someone such as Juan Uribe of the Braves strikes me as a logical target. Uribe could fill in at third base in the short term and, upon Freese’s return, could potentially be an offensive upgrade at second base in the event that Johnny Giavotella‘s recent offensive struggles continue.

Angels Open To Adding Rental Hitters, Righty Bats

The Angels prefer to acquire a bat that is controlled beyond the 2015 season, but they’re warming to the idea of acquiring a rental, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com tweets. That includes Yoenis Cespedes, though the cost of acquisition will obviously be key to any deal. At the very least, he adds, they’d like to add a bench piece they’re comfortable starting a couple of times per week.

Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register also hears that the Angels are opening up to not only the idea of rental players, but also to the idea of adding a right-handed bat. (Previously, the Angels have been said to prefer left-handed bats due to the heavily right-handed nature of their lineup.) According to Fletcher, the only player that seems off limits in the Angels’ minor league system is Sean Newcomb. Pitchers Chris Ellis and Nate Smith — two of the club’s top-ranked prospects — could potentially be had. Fletcher adds (via Twitter) that Andrew Heaney is probably not available either.

Gonzalez wrote yesterday that the Angels are seeking both a leadoff hitter and a power bat to slot in fifth behind Mike Trout and Albert Pujols in the batting order, though they may not be able to acquire both. In a followup tweet to the article, Gonzalez says he’s getting the sense that the Angels would prefer the power bat. David Freese has spent the bulk of the time hitting fifth in Anaheim this season but has batted a fairly pedestrian .240/.308/.409.

As for the leadoff role, Johnny Giavotella has assumed that spot lately but struggled there, and his .261/.315/.349 batting line is below the league average. The Angels, according to Gonzalez, are monitoring Chase Utley‘s rehab as a possible alternative. However, they’d only have true interest were the cost “minimal” and should Utley begin to show his old form at the plate. (Utley, of course, is a potential August trade candidate, as one would think his contract, injury troubles and lack of production make him a lock to clear trade waivers.)

Ben Revere has been oft-connected to the Angels in the past, as has Cincinnati’s Jay Bruce. Gonzalez speculates (on Twitter), too, that Gerardo Parra of the Brewers might be a nice rental piece for the Angels.

Heyman On Pitching Market, Astros, Angels, Hamels, Jays

Though many consider this to be a sellers’ market, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports kicks off his latest Trade Buzz column by writing that the starting pitching market could swing in favor of buyers. Only four teams are in desperate need of a rotation upgrade, he notes — the Blue Jays, Royals, Astros and Dodgers — and new names are being added to the pitching market as the deadline nears. Many executives, however, still wonder if the Tigers will really sell. Several throughout the game expect David Price to stay put with the Tigers, Heyman writes. Here are some highlights from his notes on the pitching market as well as the rest of the trade market…

  • It’s likely that the Rangers will end up trading Yovani Gallardo, and Heyman points out that an NL team would consider Gallardo a bonus, as he’s hit 13 homers in his career as at the plate. The Rangers could also end up trading Colby Lewis, who could step into the back of a rotation for a club in need of some stable innings.
  • The Astros are determined not to trade outfield prospect Brett Phillips, who one Astros-connected person referred to as “an absolute stud” when talking to Heyman. Houston is also interested in virtually every pitcher on the market, though one notable exception is Mike Leake, as the club’s evaluators aren’t particularly high on the Reds right-hander.
  • The Angels‘ recent offensive surge has calmed their search for a left fielder, but they still have some interest in both Jay Bruce and Ben Revere. There are concerns among decision-makers, however, that Bruce fits the same streaky profile that the departed Josh Hamilton embodied. Carlos Gonzalez isn’t on the Halos’ radar at this time.
  • Scouts that spoke to Heyman don’t seem overly concerned with a pair of poor outings for Cole Hamels. Instead, some believe that he may be feeling the rigors of being on the trade block for more than a year. One AL scout said of Hamels’ last start: “He looks fine. It was 100 degrees. He’s playing for a miserable team. And it may be hard to get motivated.” A pair of AL execs opined that the Phillies will be able to get back at least one “huge prospect.”
  • The Giants need to bolster their bench, but a reunion with Juan Uribe isn’t likely. Uribe wasn’t amenable to a bench spot the last time he was with San Francisco, and part of the reason he was dealt from Los Angeles to Atlanta was to get more playing time.
  • The Blue Jays‘ interest in Jonathan Papelbon is “fairly limited” at this point, as the club’s focus at this point is primarily on adding to the rotation.

Angels Prioritizing Control In Search For Bat

The AL West-leading Angels have long been said to be searching for a bat, and MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez provides additional details on the club’s thinking. Though the deadline is less than two weeks away, the team is still “casting a wide net.”

Los Angeles does prefer a left-handed bat that can slot in left field, but is even more concerned with obtaining a player that can be controlled past this season. With numerous big league positions set to open up in 2016, it seems that the team is interested in utilizing the deadline as an opportunity to find some answers for the present and the near future.

While the Angels will consider a rental acquisition, says Gonzalez, Justin Upton of the Padres is not among the players being considered. He could be the biggest bat dealt, and the Angels feel that San Diego has placed too high a price tag on the soon-to-be free agent.

The club’s preferred angle, per the report, would be to move starter C.J. Wilson as part of a deal. Though Wilson has been a fairly steady presence in the rotation, the organization would like to move some of his big salary in order to free space under the luxury tax line for the coming offseason.

With the club playing quite well of late, assistant GM Matt Klentak said that it will not be pressed into a move it doesn’t believe in just to get something done. We will continue to survey the trade market for possible upgrades that we feel make sense, but we don’t feel pressure to make a move just for the sake of making a move,” said Klentak. “We believe in the group we have.”

Angels Interested In Jay Bruce

2:00pm: The Angels doing their due diligence on a number of Reds players, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times tweets. There’s no trade brewing at this point with Bruce or any other Reds player.

1:33pm: The Angels are interested in Reds outfielder Jay Bruce, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).  Morosi adds that the Halos have a scout in Cincinnati watching the Reds take on the Indians.

It was reported on Saturday that the Reds have opened the doors on a fire sale and Bruce was among the many players listed as possibilities to be shopped.  Through 86 games this season, Bruce has hit .255/.342/.474 with 14 home runs.

Bruce, who is owed about $19.5MM through 2016, has a $13MM club option for 2017 on his contract as well. He underwent knee surgery early last season but rushed back in less than a month, which some believe to be a significant factor in his diminished play in 2014 and early 2015. Bruce can reportedly block trades to the D-Backs, Red Sox, Marlins, Twins, Yankees, A’s, Rays and Blue Jays.

Even though Bruce has only come up in trade rumors in recent weeks, ESPN’s Buster Olney heard that the Reds have had the outfielder “available for awhile.”  For his career, Bruce owns a .251/.325/.467 slash line through eight seasons with the Reds.

Cafardo On Wright, Puig, Red Sox, Angels

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe backed Commissioner Rob Manfred’s optimism about possibly expanding.  The last time baseball expanded was in 1998 with the additions of the Rays and D’Backs and Cafardo feels that MLB is due.  Manfred recently acknowledged there’s been interest from a few cities, including Montreal (former home of the Expos), Charlotte, and Portland.  Cafardo goes on to list other potential spots for expansion franchises, including Vancouver, Las Vegas, Nashville, northern New Jersey, and Brooklyn.  Of course, with those last two, there are obvious territorial issues to consider.  Here’s more from today’s column..

  • If third baseman David Wright doesn’t look like himself when he comes back or if he doesn’t come back at all in 2015, the Mets will give some thoughts to acquiring a pair of hitters.  One of those players, Cafardo writes, would likely be a shortstop.  There’s currently a feeling in the organization that the Mets will make a move for a hitter in the coming days with pitcher Jon Niese being the outgoing asset.
  • There is more and more talk of Yasiel Puig losing popularity with his Dodgers teammates, a major league source tells Cafardo.  Puig was once viewed an untouchable player because of his talent, but the new regime does not feel that way at this time. Cafardo wonders aloud if they would move the slugger for a pitcher and pondered him as a match in a Cole Hamels deal with the Phillies.
  • There’s “a buzz in the ownership/management community” that chairman Tom Werner could be more involved in the Red Sox‘s day-to-day operations, with president and CEO Larry Lucchino being less involved. Werner’s pace-of-play ideas have worked out well so far and he is being viewed as a more influential figure both in Boston and throughout the game.  There have been rumblings of Lucchino losing power in Boston for some time now.
  • Former Padres skipper Bud Black has a great relationship with owner Arte Moreno and manager Mike Scioscia and Cafardo feels that talk of him becoming the Angels‘ GM bears watching.
  • Meanwhile, Angels assistant GM Matt Klentak, he writes, may get strong consideration from both the Angels and the Phillies.  He worked for Andy MacPhail in baseball’s Labor Relations Department, so he has an in with Philly.  MLBTR wrote that Klentak was a strong GM candidate all the way back in 2011.

Trade Notes: Angels, Mets, Orioles, Diamondbacks

The Angels are actively attempting to acquire another bat to bolster their offense, tweets Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times, but the feeling among the front office team is that the asking prices of selling teams is currently too high. The Halos’ present plan is to wait until the market comes back down to Earth a bit, as the belief at this time is that there’s quite a bit of posturing among selling teams. The first-place Angels have received poor production at a number of spots in the lineup, most notably in left field, at DH and at catcher. Chris Iannetta, at least, is showing signs of life in July. After a dreadful April, he slashed .264/.328/.491 in May, but his production again tanked in June, when he hit .190 without an extra-base hit. He’s on the upswing in July, batting .250/.419/.542 through a tiny sample of 31 plate appearances. Matt Joyce, on the other hand, has struggled nearly all season long — a strange turn of events for a usually very strong platoon option in the outfield. It should be noted, of course, that following GM Jerry Dipoto’s abrupt resignation, interim GM Bill Stoneman (a former Angels GM himself) will be overseeing the team’s baseball operations this summer.

The trade market will heat up substantially in the coming two weeks, and here are a few more trade rumors from around the league…

  • Though a report from Wednesday cast some doubt on the possibility, Marc Carig of Newsday hears from a source that the Mets haven’t ruled out adding an outfielder via trade (Twitter link). Michael Cuddyer‘s knee isn’t healthy, notes Carig, nor is the throwing arm of Juan Lagares. Both have struggled this season at the plate and in the field, and a versatile outfielder would give the club some insurance should either player miss time.
  • The Orioles, too, could end up trading for an outfielder, writes Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. GM Dan Duquette admitted to Connolly that acquiring an outfielder is a consideration, though Connolly notes that there’s a very limited number of pieces the O’s would consider dealing. The lack of production from the team’s corner outfield, particularly left field (.223/.286/.352, collectively) underscores the fact that the contingency plans for the departure of Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis haven’t worked, Connolly writes. When both players signed elsewhere, Duquette and skipper Buck Showalter noted that the Orioles had a good deal of outfield depth, including Alejandro De Aza, Delmon Young, Travis Snider, David Lough, Steve Pearce, Nolan Reimold and Dariel Alvarez. De Aza and Young have departed by way of DFA, while others have struggled. Alvarez, Duquette said, is a consideration for the second half. He’s leading the Triple-A International League in total bases at the age of 26 and has a strong arm, but as Connolly notes, he’s also walked just seven times this year.
  • Diamondbacks chief baseball officer Tony La Russa spoke with the Arizona Republic’s Zach Buchanan about the upcoming trade deadline, and while many of his comments were vague (deliberately so, one would think, so as not to tip his hand), La Russa made it clear that his club had no interest in acquiring any type of pure rental player despite being just five games back in the Wild Card race. “It’s got to be somebody that fits in and is going to be a part of what we do going forward,” said La Russa of any possible trade addition. “The rent-a-player doesn’t work for us.” La Russa went on to say that adding a player with a significant financial commitment attached to his name probably isn’t a realistic option for the team either.