MLB Trade Rumors » » Los Angeles Angels 2017-10-21T12:05:27Z Steve Adams <![CDATA[Angels To Target Multi-Inning Relievers This Winter]]> 2017-10-18T02:11:25Z 2017-10-18T02:11:25Z
  • The Angels will be on the hunt for multiple relievers that can pitch multiple innings this winter, writes’s Maria Guaradado“I believe every bullpen needs at least two guys that can pitch multiple innings,” GM Billy Eppler said this month, per Guardado. “At least two.” Yusmeiro Petit excelled for the Angels in that capacity this year, tossing 91 1/3 innings of 2.76 ERA ball with 10.0 K/9 against 1.8 BB/9. Eppler wouldn’t comment on the possibility of retaining Petit, though it stands to reason based on Eppler’s outspoken interest in players of his skill set and Petit’s success in Anaheim that the team would at least have interest.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 10/16/17]]> 2017-10-16T19:31:25Z 2017-10-16T19:31:25Z Here are the day’s minor moves from around the league…

    • The Angels announced that left-hander Jason Gurka has cleared waivers and been assigned outright to Triple-A Salt Lake. The 29-year-old was designated for assignment when the Halos picked up right-hander Felix Pena from the Cubs. Gurka appeared in just three games for the Angels late in the season, facing only five batters and recording two outs. The former Orioles draftee (15th round, 2008) has seen big league time with the Rockies both in 2015 and in 2016 but has struggled in a small sample in the Majors; through 18 innings, he’s yielded 18 runs on 34 hits and five walks with 14 strikeouts. Gurka does come with a strong track record as a left-handed reliever in Triple-A, where he’s posted a 3.27 ERA with 9.6 K/9 against 2.4 BB/9 in 118 1/3 innings across parts of four seasons.
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Angels Unlikely To Spend Big On Starting Pitching]]> 2017-10-14T17:18:18Z 2017-10-14T17:16:05Z
  • The Angels aren’t likely to pursue any high-priced pitching upgrades this winter,’s Maria Guardado writes as part of a reader mailbag.  Assuming their rotation is finally healthy after a pair of injury-plagued years, Guardado projects Garrett Richards, Andrew Heaney, Tyler Skaggs, Matt Shoemaker and Nick Tropeano as the Halos’ starting five, with Parker Bridwell as the top depth option.  The club could add some further arms on minor league deals or trades, and I’d argue that one more solid innings-eater is required given the number of health question marks on the Angels’ staff.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Angels Engaged In “Dialogue” With Justin Upton]]> 2017-10-14T00:39:28Z 2017-10-14T00:39:28Z Angels outfielder Justin Upton is still weighing his opt-out decision, which promises to have widespread ramifications for the free-agent market. But as Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports, the club isn’t just sitting back and waiting to learn Upton’s fate.

    Rather, Halos GM Billy Eppler says “there is dialogue going on” between the sides, citing a “positive conversation” with Upton and his agent, Larry Reynolds. He did not divulge details beyond that, quite understandably, so it’s not entirely clear just what was discussed. But it certainly seems as if the team is taking a proactive approach in the hopes that Upton will remain in an Angels uniform for 2018 and beyond.

    Upton can choose to enter the open market — which he’d do free and clear of any qualifying-offer-related draft compensation — or elect instead to keep the four-year, $88.5MM guarantee remaining on his contract. The Angels are surely hoping to convince Upton to stay, though we don’t know anything else about the substance of the chatter. Beyond pitching Upton on the organization, it’s not known whether some additional inducement has or could be contemplated. In theory, though, the sides could completely re-work the contract, modify it in some way, or instead just continue their discussion into free agency.

    Unusual circumstances surrounded the 30-year-old Upton’s move out west. Despite the presence of the opt-out provision, the club acquired him from the Tigers at the last possible moment — during the revocable trade period, on August 31st, the last day that teams could add outside players who’d be eligible for the postseason. Righty Grayson Long and a player to be named or cash went to Detroit in the deal, which included no assurances or future considerations regarding Upton’s remaining contract (or lack thereof).

    Upton played well in Los Angeles, though the club fell shy of the postseason. Through 115 plate appearances, he slashed .245/.357/.531 with seven home runs — good for a 137 OPS+ that matched his output over his first 125 games on the year with the Tigers. Though Upton has had a few productivity dips in his eleven-year career, he carries an excellent .269/.348/.479 cumulative batting line through more than six thousand trips to the plate at the game’s highest level.

    Youth is still mostly on Upton’s side. So are defensive metrics, which see him as a solid-to-excellent fielder in left. In the aggregate, it’s fairly easy to make out a case for Upton commanding a guarantee of $20MM or more annually for a five- or six-year term — as he received the last time he went to the open market. Now that the risks of playing out the season are in the past, he doesn’t have much reason to take a (hypothetical) offer from the Angels before testing the broader market, though perhaps he could try to gain a sweetener if he’s at all inclined to avoid the risks of free agency by declining the opt-out opportunity.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Angels Acquire Felix Pena, Designate Jason Gurka]]> 2017-10-10T00:32:10Z 2017-10-10T00:26:50Z The Angels have announced the acquisition of righty Felix Pena from the Cubs. Los Angeles designated southpaw Jason Gurka for assignment to open a 40-man roster spot.

    Pena, a 27-year-old from the Dominican Republic, had made 36 MLB appearances over the past two seasons. He carries a 4.98 ERA in the majors, with 10.4 K/9 against 4.4 BB/9. Nine opposing long balls have accounted for quite a bit of the damage against him.

    For Los Angeles, this is an opportunity to take a shot on a hurler that has at times shown signs of more. He had generally produced quality results in the minors as a starter before moving to the pen and of late has boosted his strikeout numbers. Pena carries a promising 12.7% swinging-strike in the majors.

    As for Gurka, he’ll have an opportunity to test the open market if he’s not claimed. He made it up to the majors briefly late this year, but spent the bulk of the season at Triple-A. Gurka was rather impressive overall, spinning 50 2/3 innings of 3.20 ERA ball with 9.9 K/9 against 2.3 BB/9 at the highest level of the minors, but he has failed to receive extended MLB looks in the past despite quality minor-league numbers.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Angels Notes: Upton, Bridwell]]> 2017-10-06T14:33:13Z 2017-10-06T14:33:13Z
  • The Angels initially tried to acquire Parker Bridwell from the Orioles last year before finally landing the right-hander in April for what Heyman describes as “just a small amount of cash.”  This minor deal at the time ended up being a steal for the Halos, as Bridwell delivered a 3.64 ERA over 121 innings, starting 20 of his 21 appearances for Los Angeles.

    • There apparently haven’t been any talks between the Angels and Justin Upton about his opt-out clause, which Heyman finds “interesting.”  There isn’t any immediate rush, of course, as Upton doesn’t need to make his decision until three days after the World Series is over.  “Most see it as a very close call” as to whether Upton will actually opt out of the four years and $88.5MM remaining on his deal given the mutual interest between he and the Angels.  The possibility exists that the two sides could work out an extension to tack another year or two beyond the current end of Upton’s deal, though the lack of talks indicates that scenario has yet to be explored.
    • The Angels initially tried to acquire Parker Bridwell from the Orioles last year before finally landing the right-hander in April for what Heyman describes as “just a small amount of cash.”  This minor deal at the time ended up being a steal for the Halos, as Bridwell delivered a 3.64 ERA over 121 innings, starting 20 of his 21 appearances for Los Angeles.
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[AL West Notes: Dipoto, Angels, Astros]]> 2017-10-06T13:14:56Z 2017-10-06T13:14:56Z Here’s the latest from around the AL West…

    • Jerry Dipoto originally signed a three-year deal with the Mariners, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reports, so the general manager is entering his last year under contract.  Seattle is 164-160 in two seasons under Dipoto, with a winning year in 2016 followed up by a disappointing, injury-filled year this season.  There haven’t been any rumblings about Dipoto’s job security, however, and it would make sense if the M’s explored extensions with Dipoto and manager Scott Servais (whose deal is also up after 2018) this winter in order to avoid lame-duck status for either man.  More pressure would seem to be on Servais since managers are more readily replaced than GMs, though Dipoto recently defended his skipper against some reports of clubhouse criticism.  The firings of bench coach Tim Bogar and first base coach Casey Candaele does remove some of Servais’ support system — Heyman notes that Candaele and Servais are good friends, while Bogar is close with Dipoto.
    • The Angels announced earlier this week that hitting coach Dave Hansen won’t return to the club next season.  Hansen had been with L.A. for the last four seasons, first as an assistant hitting coach and then taking over the lead job in 2016-17.  The Angels finished near the bottom of most offensive categories last year, as Mike Trout (181), Andrelton Simmons (103) and late-August addition Justin Upton (137) were the only regulars to finish with a wRC+ above the league-average 100 mark.  (Yunel Escobar also finished with a 100 wRC+ on the dot.)
    • Analytics played a major role in the Astros’ rebuild and subsequent rise to World Series contender, though as Alex Speier of the Boston Globe writes, the Astros are now faced with the challenge of staying ahead of the curve.  “It’s a double-edged sword.  If [other teams are] following things we did first, it means, a) it works; and b) our advantage is gone, or dissipating,” Houston GM Jeff Luhnow said. “That’s why we’re constantly trying to figure out how we can gain small advantages in multiple areas.  We’re all observing each other.  I copy what I see works with other teams and vice-versa.  Keeping things a secret allows you to benefit longer but it’s hard to do.”
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Justin Upton "Increasingly Likely" To Opt Out Of Contract]]> 2017-10-04T04:17:16Z 2017-10-04T04:17:16Z
  • It is “increasingly likely” that Justin Upton will choose to opt out of the remaining four years and $88.5MM remaining on his contract, a source tells’s Jon Paul Morosi.  Upton’s outstanding 2017 season gives him a strong case to look for a larger deal in free agency this winter, though opting out doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll leave the Angels.  Morosi notes that Upton could use the opt-out clause as a way to leverage an extension from the Halos, as C.C. Sabathia did with the Yankees six years ago.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Tigers Interested In Angels Bench Coach Dino Ebel]]> 2017-10-04T00:44:45Z 2017-10-04T00:43:04Z
  • The Tigers will interview Marlins third base coach Fredi Gonzalez and White Sox bench coach Joe McEwing this week about the managerial vacancy,’s Jason Beck reports.  Angels bench coach Dino Ebel is also on Detroit’s list of candidates, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi tweets.  Several other internal (coaches Lloyd McClendon, Omar Vizquel, Dave Clark) and external (Phil Nevin and Charlie Montoyo) have already been linked to the Tigers’ search, which reportedly began with around 50 names in consideration.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Angels Sign Vicente Campos]]> 2017-10-03T20:56:40Z 2017-10-03T20:56:40Z
  • The Angels signed righty Vicente Campos to a minor league contract, as Campos will return to the organization after being released in September.  Campos posed an 8.22 ERA over 23 innings last season split between Triple-A, high A-ball and rookie ball as he worked his back from forearm surgery in September 2016.  His Major League resume consists of 5 2/3 innings with the Diamondbacks in 2016.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Coaching/Managerial Notes: Hot Seats, Royals, Scioscia, Snitker]]> 2017-10-02T19:41:32Z 2017-10-02T19:41:32Z Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic runs down the big league managers that could be on the hot seat (subscription required and strongly recommended). Rosenthal lists Braves skipper Brian Snitker as an immediate candidate and notes that Red Sox skipper John Farrell, too, could be on the hot seat if the Sox are bounced in the ALDS for a second straight season. Farrell was inherited rather than hired by president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. While Orioles owner Peter Angelos isn’t likely to dismiss Buck Showalter, the tension between him and GM Dan Duquette continues to loom large in the organization. Rosenthal also covers several other managers on shaky ground that could find themselves in jeopardy with poor team showings in 2018.

    A bit from MLB’s dugouts around the league…

    • The Royals and pitching coach Dave Eiland reached a mutual agreement to part ways, reports FanRag’s Jon Heyman. The 51-year-old Eiland spent six seasons as the pitching coach for manager Ned Yost in Kansas City, helping the team to consecutive World Series appearances in 2014-15 and, of course, a World Series victory in the latter of those two seasons. He also spent 2008-10 as the Yankees pitching coach, so Eiland’s considerable experience should get him some type of opportunity with another organization, even if the Royals’ pitching staff as a whole underperformed in a disappointing 2017 campaign. Rustin Dodd and Pete Grahoff of the Kansas City Star, meanwhile, report that bench coach Don Wakamatsu, bullpen coach Doug Henry and assistant hitting coach Brian Buchanan are also expected to be dismissed. Kansas City has since announced that Eiland and Wakamatsu will not have their contracts renewed.
    • Angels manager Mike Scioscia will be back with the team in 2018 — the final season of his 10-year contract as skipper of the Halos, tweets Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. Scioscia hopes to manage the Angels beyond the 2018 season, Fletcher notes, but he’s content heading into the final season of his contract without signing an extension. The 58-year-old Scioscia is Major League Baseball’s longest tenured manager, as he’s been skipper of the Angels since the 2000 campaign. The Halos were in contention for the American League’s second Wild Card spot up until the final week of the season despite a slew of injuries that decimated their pitching staff for much of the year.
    • Braves president of baseball operations plans to meet with manager Brian Snitker to discuss his future “as early as today,” tweets’s Mark Bowman. The Braves will have a decision on the coaching staff at some point midweek, per Bowman. Notably, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets that Hart said today’s sudden resignation of GM John Coppolella in the wake of an MLB investigation isn’t likely to impact the decision one way or another (Twitter links). O’Brien guesses that the option on Snitker will be exercised, though it seems that a formal decision has not yet been made.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Late-Season Starts Cost Bud Norris $500K Bonus]]> 2017-10-01T00:54:44Z 2017-10-01T00:54:44Z Padres right-hander Jhoulys Chacin threw 180 1/3 innings of 3.89 ERA ball and contributed upward of two wins above replacement this season, making him one of the top bargain signings of 2017. Chacin inked a $1.75MM deal with the Padres last winter and should fare much better on his next contract, one that might come from another organization. But Chacin told AJ Cassavell of and other reporters Saturday that he’d be willing to continue his career in San Diego (Twitter link). “It’s hard to tell,” Chacin said of his future. “But I would be really happy to come back here.” Re-signing the capable innings eater would make a lot of sense for the rebuilding, starter-needy Padres, as MLBTR’s Jason Martinez wrote Friday.

    More from San Diego and a couple other cities:

    • Padres owner Ron Fowler informed Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune that there are “a couple people we’re fairly close to getting deals done with,” which could mean Chacin or any of their other impending free agents. Regardless, both Fowler and managing partner Ron Seidler suggested to Lin that they’re happy with how this year has gone for the club. Seidler has seen enough progress to believe the Padres could soon be a factor in the NL West, a division the big-spending Dodgers have ruled over the past half-decade. Looking ahead two years, Seidler said: “At minimum, if we’re not in the chase for (the playoffs), I’d be disappointed. (If not), it wouldn’t mean I’d be angry or upset or anything. I think, given where we are right now, in 2019 we should have every chance not to just be a playoff team but to win the division.” Check out Lin’s full piece for more quotes from Seidler and Fowler on the direction of the franchise.
    • By starting in his final three appearances of the year, Angels righty Bud Norris lost out on a $500K bonus, per Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. Norris would have collected that money had he made 60 relief appearances (he finished with 57), but starting him was not a money-saving move by the Angels. Rather, Norris volunteered to switch roles down the stretch, his representative revealed. “He did it for the team,” agent Joel Wolfe told Fletcher. “Now he’s going into free agency as one of the most versatile and valuable pitching assets given the ways teams tactically use their pitching staffs. The value he’s gotten out of starting is far in excess of that performance bonus.” Norris joined the Angels on a minor league deal last January and proved to be a shrewd pickup, pitching to a 4.21 ERA and recording 10.74 K/9 against 3.92 BB/9 over 62 innings. Thanks to that production, he seems likely to land a major league contract during the upcoming offseason.
    • Shin-Soo Choo has gotten some practice reps at first base this week and could end up as a part-time option there in 2018 for the Rangers, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes. The Rangers are likely to cut ties with Mike Napoli after the season, which could open up first for Joey Gallo, but he’s probably better suited for the outfield, Wilson observes. Should Gallo take a spot in the grass, it might lead to some time at first for Choo, who has only served as an outfielder and a designated hitter since making his big league debut in 2005. Advanced defensive metrics have typically been bearish on Choo’s work in the field, though, and he’ll turn 36 next summer. First seems like a more logical place for him, then, though Wilson cautions that this experiment isn’t guaranteed to stretch into next season. Offensively, the lefty-swinging Choo has turned in another respectable year with 22 home runs, 12 stolen bases and a .261/.357/.423 line in 636 plate appearances.
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA["Winning" Is Upton's Top Priority In Opt-Out Decision]]> 2017-09-30T01:09:04Z 2017-09-30T01:09:04Z
  • Winning” is the only factor that will go into Justin Upton’s decision about opting out of his contract, he tells Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register.  Of course, Upton faces a significant financial decision if he chooses to forego the $88.5MM remaining on his contract to re-enter free agency, though Fletcher notes that Upton could prioritize playing for a contender since he has already earned over $95MM in his career.  The Angels, of course, made a run at a wild card this year and could offer Upton that chance of playing for a winner, as the club will have some money to spend on needed upgrades this winter.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Three Needs: Los Angeles Angels]]> 2017-09-28T16:14:27Z 2017-09-28T16:00:23Z Click here to read previous entries in MLBTR’s Three Needs series.

    Meaningful baseball in 2017 came to an end Wednesday for the Angels, whose loss to the White Sox eliminated them from American League wild-card contention. On one hand, given the multitude of injuries to their pitching staff and Mike Trout’s absence from late May through mid-July, it’s commendable that the Angels hung in the race until the final week of the season. On the other, Trout is now another year closer to free agency and, by no real fault of his own, still hasn’t won a playoff game in his remarkable career.

    With only three years remaining on Trout’s contract, time could be running out for the Angels to capitalize on having the best player on the planet on their roster. General manager Billy Eppler will have to augment the talent around Trout during the upcoming offseason, then, in hopes of snapping a three-year playoff drought in 2018 and contending for a title with the perennial MVP candidate in the fold. These areas figure to garner Eppler’s attention over the next few months…

    1.) Get an answer from Justin Upton:

    Justin Upton

    The Angels stunningly acquired the left fielder from the Tigers on Aug. 31, knowing full well it could either be a long-term marriage or a one-month stand. Upton will enter the offseason with four years and $88.5MM left on his contract, but he’ll have a chance to opt out of the deal after the World Series.

    As a .274/.361/.544 hitter with 35 home runs in 624 plate appearances – including a .247/.356/.551, seven-HR showing in 104 PAs as an Angel – the 30-year-old looks like a strong candidate to vacate his pact and revisit free agency. Perhaps the Angels could prevent that from happening by tacking a couple more big-money years on the arrangement. Otherwise, losing Upton would leave the team scrambling for a capable complement to Trout.

    If that’s not Upton in 2018, the best option in free agency will be one of his ex-Tigers teammates, Diamondbacks outfielder J.D. Martinez  who has absolutely terrorized opposing pitchers since his 2014 breakout and is amid a career offensive season. Others in the class of impending free agent corner outfielders aren’t nearly as appealing as Upton or Martinez, but one of those lesser players (or a trade acquisition) could patrol left for the Angels in 2018 if they don’t reel in either of the big fish. Regardless, improving an offense that ranks 23rd in FanGraphs’ wRC+ metric and 24th in runs is the Angels’ No. 1 priority heading into the offseason.

    “The obvious talking point this winter is going to be our offense,” manager Mike Scioscia said Wednesday (via Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times).

    At .228/.306/.337, the Angels have posted a major league-worst line against left-handed pitching this year, making a star-caliber righty-swinger like Upton or Martinez that much more of a fit for the club going forward.

    2.) The infield: Andrelton Simmons and …?

    The Angels are set at shortstop with Simmons, but their infield is otherwise rife with questions. Third baseman Yunel Escobar is an impending free agent and probably won’t be back, according to Moura, while second baseman Brandon Phillips’ deal is also up. Over at first base, the Angels rank 27th in fWAR (0.3) and have batted a weak .211/.290/.413, though they have gotten quality second-half production there from C.J. Cron. They’ll also have first baseman/third baseman Luis Valbuena on the books for $8MM in 2018, so even though he hasn’t performed well this year, he still seems likely to factor in next season.

    While it’s possible the Angels will stick with Cron and Valbuena at first base, second and third are begging for upgrades. A wild card at either position may be the Reds’ Zack Cozart, who could improve his market over the winter if he shows a willingness to move off shortstop. In terms of conventional second basemen, Eduardo Nunez, old friend Howie Kendrick and Neil Walker, whom the Angels tried to acquire via trade a couple years ago, represent the best soon-to-be free agents, while Ian Kinsler, Dee Gordon, Jed Lowrie, Josh Harrison and Yangervis Solarte are among potential trade candidates.

    Any of Nunez, Lowrie, Harrison or Solarte could also offer a solution at the hot corner, where Mike Moustakas and Todd Frazier are the top free agents-to-be. Moustakas is a Los Angeles native, which might help the Angels in a potential pursuit, but he’s also a Scott Boras client who figures to pull in one of the richest contracts of the offseason.

    3.) Improve the rotation:

    The good news here is that No. 1 starter Garrett Richards fared well in his September return from a right biceps issue that limited him to 27 2/3 innings this year. Barring another injury, he’s primed to sit atop the Angels’ rotation in 2018. Richards isn’t the only Angels starter who has endured an injury-shortened season (two years in his case), of course, as availability has also been an issue with J.C. Ramirez, Matt Shoemaker, Tyler Skaggs, Alex Meyer and Andrew Heaney. With the exception of Meyer, who’s likely to miss 2018 after undergoing surgery this month on a torn shoulder labrum, all of those hurlers (and Parker Bridwell) could be factors in the Angels’ rotation next year. Still, considering the alarming history of injuries to Richards, Skaggs and Heaney, it would behoove Eppler to seek at least one dependable starter in the offseason.

    Given the thinness of the Angels’ farm system, it’s unlikely they’ll put together a trade for a big-time starter, but they could turn to free agency for someone like Lance Lynn or Alex Cobb, to name a pair of second-tier options, if they don’t land any of the more high-profile hurlers (Jake Arrieta, Yu Darvish or possibly Masahiro Tanaka, whom Eppler knows from his time in the Yankees’ front office). While every GM with a pulse figures to at least kick the tires on Japanese ace/slugger Shohei Otani if he immigrates to the majors in the offseason, a lack of available at-bats in Anaheim is one factor that could work against a successful Angels pursuit. The Halos are stuck with a severely declining Albert Pujols at designated hitter, so they wouldn’t be able to guarantee many ABs to Otani.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Heaney Still Not Ready To Return]]> 2017-09-22T02:01:59Z 2017-09-22T01:19:35Z
  • Angels lefty Andrew Heaney played catch Thursday and is still hopeful that he can start again this season, writes Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. Heaney has been sidelined by a shoulder impingement recently, and with the young southpaw unable to start, the Halos will again turn to Bud Norris to start a bullpen game this weekend, per Fletcher. Norris tossed two innings the last time he did so and was one of three pitchers (joining Yusmeiro Petit and Blake Wood) to throw two innings that day.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 9/18/17]]> 2017-09-19T00:56:51Z 2017-09-19T00:52:30Z Here are today’s minor moves from around the league…

    • The Reds have announced that RHP Barrett Astin cleared waivers and has been assigned to Triple-A Louisville. Astin, 25, was selected 90th overall by the Brewers in the 2013 draft, and traded to the Reds along with righty Kevin Shackelford for reliever Jonathan Broxton in August of the following year. During April and May, Astin bounced between Louisville and the majors, but struggled with command, walking seven batters and striking out just two across eight innings while allowing six earned runs. He’s a sinkerballer, throwing that pitch over half the time at about 92 MPH, but the changeup he features is just 6 MPH slower. He also throws a slider that clocks in around 88 MPH.
    • Right-hander Brooks Pounders, who was designated for assignment by the Angels earlier this month, cleared waivers and was outrighted off the 40-man roster, per the team’s transactions page at Pounders, 26, appeared in 11 games for the Halos this season and 13 for the Royals in 2016, but he’s struggled considerably at the big league level. In 23 career innings, he’s pitched to a 9.78 ERA thanks largely to a whopping 10 homers allowed. Pounders does have a solid 25-to-8 K/BB ratio in that time, and he owns a career 2.94 ERA with 9.5 K/9 against 3.6 BB/9 in 131 2/3 Triple-A innings.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Tigers Acquire Elvin Rodriguez From Angels To Complete Justin Upton Trade]]> 2017-09-15T22:33:10Z 2017-09-15T21:58:28Z The Angels have announced that they have sent righty Elvin Rodriguez to the Tigers. He’ll become the player to be named later in the deal that sent outfielder Justin Upton to Los Angeles two weeks ago.

    Rodriguez, 19, joins fellow minor-league righty Grayson Long in making up the return for Upton, who was something of an odd trade candidate given that he can opt out of his contract at the end of the season. Detroit did have some leverage, as the team could have held onto him and then traded the remainder of his deal if he did not exercise that clause and return to the open market. The Tigers also had reason to want a deal, though, since Upton was not eligible for a qualifying offer (having previously received one) if he opted out.

    Rodriguez has shown some promise in the Halos system and ranked 22nd among the club’s farmhands on’s latest list. Though he doesn’t even sit above 90 mph, per, he generates movement, possesses intriguing secondary offerings, and has a track record of success in the low minors. Refinement and perhaps also some physical development may yet come. Rodriguez posted a 2.91 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in his 68 innings this year, most of which came at the Rookie ball level before he earned a promotion to Class A.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[2017 Rule 5 Roundup]]> 2017-09-14T16:14:45Z 2017-09-14T14:15:17Z With just a few weeks left in the season, we have a pretty clear idea of which Rule 5 draft picks will stick with their drafting teams. At this point, having already carried the player this far and with expanded rosters easing any pressures, teams are quite likely to stay the course. Here’s how this season’s Rule 5 group has shaken out thus far:


    It isn’t official yet, but these

    • Miguel Diaz, RHP, kept by Padres (via Twins) from Brewers: As part of the Pads’ unusually bold Rule 5 strategy, the club kept three youngsters this year. Diaz, 22, has managed only a 6.21 ERA with a 31:22 K/BB ratio over 37 2/3 innings. But he is showing a 96 mph heater and will remain with the organization, quite likely heading back to the minors next season to continue his development.
    • Luis Torrens, C, kept by Padres (via Reds) from Yankees: The youthful backstop — he’s just 21 — has struggled badly on offense in limited action. Through 133 plate appearances, he’s slashing just.169/.246/.212 — with just four extra-base hits, none of them home runs.
    • Allen Cordoba, INF, kept by Padres from Cardinals: And then there’s Cordoba, who’s also just 21 years of age. He faded after a hot start at the plate, but on the whole his output — a .209/.284/.304 batting line and four home runs over 215 plate appearances — is fairly impressive given that he had never before played above Rookie ball.
    • Dylan Covey, RHP, kept by White Sox from Athletics: Technically, owing to a DL stint, Covey has only compiled 83 of the minimum 90 days of active roster time required to be kept. But he’s going to make it there before the season is up, meaning that the Sox will be able to hold onto his rights and option him back to the minors in 2018. Covey, 26, has struggled to a 7.90 ERA with 4.9 K/9 against 4.4 BB/9 over 54 2/3 innings, allowing 18 long balls in that span.
    • Stuart Turner, C, kept by Reds from Twins: Turner has seen minimal action, appearing in just 33 games and taking only 77 trips to the plate. And he’s hitting just .141/.184/.268 in that sporadic action. Clearly, though, the Reds have seen enough to believe he’s worth the trouble to hang onto.

    Still In Limbo

    • Kevin Gadea, RHP, selected by Rays from Mariners: Gadea has not pitched at any level this year owing to an elbow injury. He’ll remain with the Tampa Bay organization for the time being, but will still need to be carried on the 40-man roster over the offseason and then on the active roster for at least ninety days for his rights to permanently transfer.
    • Armando Rivero, RHP, selected by Braves from Cubs: It’s the exact same situation for Rivero as for Gadea, though he has had shoulder problems.
    • Josh Rutledge, INF, selected by Red Sox from Rockies: This was not your typical Rule 5 move. Boston snagged the veteran infielder after he signed a minors deal with Colorado. He ended up seeing minimal MLB time owing to injuries and his season ended recently with hip surgery. Rutledge is eligible for arbitration this fall and isn’t likely to be kept on the 40-man roster regardless.
    • Anthony Santander, OF, selected by Orioles from Indians: Since he only made it off of the DL late in the summer, Santander can accrue only 45 days on the active roster. If Baltimore wants to keep him, then, it’ll need to put him on the Opening Day roster next year. Santander has seen minimal playing time thus far, recording two hits in twelve trips to the plate, though he put up impressive numbers on his rehab assignment.

    Kept By Other Means

    • Daniel Stumpf, LHP, signed with Tigers after electing free agency upon return to Royals: This is another unusual situation. As a previous Rule 5 returnee, Stumpf was eligible to elect free agency upon being returned to his original organization. That’s just what happened when Detroit sent him back to Kansas City; the southpaw then turned around and re-signed a MLB deal with the Tigers. He has ended up turning in a rather productive year, posting 32 1/3 innings of 2.78 ERA ball with 8.6 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 at the major-league level and showing even more impressive numbers during his time at Triple-A.

    Already Returned

    • Tyler Jones, RHP, returned to Yankees by Diamondbacks: Jones has thrown rather well at Triple-A since going back to the New York organization, posting 10.7 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 in 63 2/3 innings, though he has also allowed 4.38 earned per nine.
    • Caleb Smith, LHP, returned to Yankees by Brewers: Smith ended up earning a 40-man roster spot and spending some time in the majors after showing quite well as a starter in the minors. But he has been knocked around in his 18 2/3 MLB frames on the year.
    • Justin Haley, RHP, returned to Red Sox by Twins (via Angels): The 26-year-old didn’t stick with Minnesota, allowing a dozen earned runs in 18 innings before being returned to Boston. But he has thrown well since landing back at Triple-A Pawtucket, posting a 2.66 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 in 44 innings over seven starts.
    • Tyler Webb, LHP, returned to Yankees by Pirates: Webb also gained a 40-man spot with the Yankees after showing some intriguing K/BB numbers at Triple-A. He was ultimately dealt to the Brewers.
    • Aneury Tavarez, OF, returned to Red Sox by Orioles: Tavarez played his way back up to Triple-A upon his return to his former organization, but has hit just .244/.292/.400 in 145 plate appearances there.
    • Glenn Sparkman, RHP, returned to Royals by Blue Jays: Sparkman was bombed in his one MLB appearance and has been limited to just 30 1/3 minor-league frames due to injury.
    • Hoby Milner, LHP, returned to Phillies by Indians: Another player who has risen to the majors with the organization that originally let them leave via the Rule 5, Milner has turned in 24 1/3 frames of 1.85 ERA ball in Philadelphia. Of course, he has also managed just 15 strikeouts against ten walks in that span.
    • Mike Hauschild, RHP, returned to Astros by Rangers: The 27-year-old righty struggled badly in his eight MLB frames. Upon returning to the rotation for Houston’s top affiliate, Hauschild has uncharacteristically struggled with free passes (5.3 per nine).
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Royals Claim Mike Morin, Designate Onelki Garcia]]> 2017-09-12T22:19:13Z 2017-09-12T17:32:58Z The Royals have claimed righty Mike Morin off waivers from the Angels, Jeffrey Flanagan of reports on Twitter. To create space on the 40-man roster, the club designated southpaw Onelki Garcia for assignment.

    Morin had been designated for assignment recently by the Halos. The native Kansan has struggled through 14 1/3 MLB innings this year, allowing 11 earned runs on 21 hits. But Morin has posted solid strikeout-to-walk ratios (8.4 K/9, 2.5 BB/9) in 164 1/3 total frames in the majors over the past four seasons. And he was more effective this year at Triple-A, carrying a 3.20 ERA while also frequently working multiple innings (he compiled 39 1/3 frames in just 22 appearances, including one start).

    For now, Morin will join a bullpen mix that’s already loaded with arms due to September call-ups — assuming, at least, that he’s activated. My calculations show that Morin has likely accumulated around 68 days of MLB service this year — owing, especially, to a DL stint early in the season — after entering the year with 2.110 on his ledger. That would suggest he has already passed three full years of service, which would make him eligible for arbitration this fall.

    As for the 28-year-old Garcia, who spent last year pitching in Mexico, he made only two MLB appearances on the year and has just five total at the game’s highest level. He spent most of the year working at Triple-A, where he posted a 4.75 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 over 85 1/3 innings.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Angels Notes: Norris, Heaney]]> 2017-09-12T16:30:48Z 2017-09-12T16:30:48Z
  • In addition to right-hander David Hernandez, the Angels would likely have traded righty Bud Norris leading up to the non-waiver deadline but didn’t receive much interest in him, the L.A. Times’ Pedro Moura writes in his latest Angels Inbox column. General manager Billy Eppler and his staff weren’t sure the team would have a reasonable enough shot at a Wild Card berth to pursue additions on July 31, though they obviously pivoted in August, acquiring Justin Upton and Brandon Phillips. As Moura notes, Hernandez hasn’t exactly dominated following his trade to Arizona, so that minor swap isn’t likely to be the ultimate difference in whether the Angels secure a Wild Card position or come up just shy. The Halos are one game back of the Twins for that spot at the moment. Moura also gives his thoughts on the team’s chances of retaining Upton and Phillips beyond 2017 and examines some of the Angels’ better low-cost pickups, so Halos fans will want to check it out.
    • In addition to right-hander David Hernandez, the Angels would likely have traded righty Bud Norris leading up to the non-waiver deadline but didn’t receive much interest in him, the L.A. Times’ Pedro Moura writes in his latest Angels Inbox column. General manager Billy Eppler and his staff weren’t sure the team would have a reasonable enough shot at a Wild Card berth to pursue additions on July 31, though they obviously pivoted in August, acquiring Justin Upton and Brandon Phillips. As Moura notes, Hernandez hasn’t exactly dominated following his trade to Arizona, so that minor swap isn’t likely to be the ultimate difference in whether the Angels secure a Wild Card position or come up just shy. The Halos are one game back of the Twins for that spot at the moment. Moura also gives his thoughts on the team’s chances of retaining Upton and Phillips beyond 2017 and examines some of the Angels’ better low-cost pickups, so Halos fans will want to check it out.
    • Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register writes that Angels lefty Andrew Heaney could miss his next start due to some shoulder troubles. While an MRI showed that Heaney did not have an “acute strain,” it also revealed symptoms “consistent with internal impingement.” Heaney has struggled in four of his five starts since returning from Tommy John anyhow, but the injury-ravaged Angels’ pitching staff hardly needs further injuries to tax the rotation or the bullpen with a Wild Card spot in arm’s reach.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Alex Meyer To Undergo Shoulder Surgery]]> 2017-09-12T00:07:09Z 2017-09-11T23:25:57Z Angels righty Alex Meyer is set to undergo surgery to repair a torn shoulder labrum, the club announced. He is expected to be sidelined for approximately twelve months, making it unlikely that he’ll be able to pitch in the 2018 season.

    Needless to say, the Halos continue to endure miserable luck when it comes to pitching injuries. A variety of other promising young hurlers have required major surgeries in recent years, too. While most of the earlier injuries are now resolved, Meyer joins Matt Shoemaker and JC Ramirez in going down for the remainder of the 2017 season.

    Unfortunately, Meyer’s injury also appears to be the most serious. Labral tears can be overcome, but frequently aren’t. While the anticipated time off makes Meyer’s procedure seem something like Tommy John surgery, the odds that he’ll make a full return aren’t nearly as high as those of a typical TJ patient. Of course, there’s also an immense amount that we don’t known (and likely wouldn’t fully understand) about the nature of Meyer’s particular case.

    Ultimately, it’s far too soon to know how this’ll all turn out, but it’s awful news for the 6’9 righty. Meyer has long dealt with problems with his shoulder, even while struggling to iron out a repeatable delivery that would allow him to harness his compelling raw stuff. The Angels acquired him in an interesting, four-player swap at last year’s trade deadline in hopes that Meyer could still make good on his talent.

    Though he had largely struggled in the majors in prior action with the Twins, Meyer finally put together a run of success this year in Los Angeles. Over 67 1/3 innings across 13 starts, he worked to a 3.74 ERA. While he still dealt with control problems, handing out 42 free passes, he also racked up 75 strikeouts and limited opposing hitters to just 48 base knocks and six long balls.

    There were plenty of encouraging signs for the former top prospect before he was knocked out with what was then described as shoulder inflammation. Meyer worked at his typical 96.5 mph average four-seam velocity and boosted his swinging-strike rate to a solid 10.7%. He also carried slightly above-average groundball (46.5%) and infield-fly (11.3%) rates. Meyer was never better than in his last outing, a one-hit gem against the Nationals — the team that originally drafted him out of the University of Kentucky.

    From this point forward, Meyer faces a long road. Beyond the immediate surgery and rehab, he’ll be battling against a longer trend of health problems. Indeed, Meyer hasn’t thrown more than a hundred innings in a season (at all levels) since 2014. At this point, it’s fair to wonder whether Meyer will even look to return as a starter, or instead move into a relief role once he’s back to health.

    In the end, though, there’s still hope that Meyer can return — and do so with the Halos. He will enter the 2019 season with just over two full years of MLB service, so Los Angeles can wait and see how things go without making any financial commitments. And if Meyer can indeed make it back, he’ll still have at least four years of team control remaining.

    Charlie Wilmoth <![CDATA[Alex Meyer Still Dealing With Injury Frustrations]]> 2017-09-11T01:20:14Z 2017-09-11T01:20:14Z
  • Angels righty Alex Meyer already knows his 2017 is over, but also must deal with uncertainty about his future after losing the last two months of the season to shoulder inflammation, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register writes. Meyer isn’t yet sure if surgery might help him, and he doesn’t yet know if he might have to move to the bullpen to stay healthy. Meyer has been dogged by shoulder issues at various points throughout his pro career, but managed to avoid the DL in 2015, when he mostly pitched in the bullpen in the Twins’ system. “I don’t know if there’s a correlation, but I can’t say there’s not,” he says. Meyer posted a 3.74 ERA, 10.0 K/9 and 5.6 BB/9 over 13 starts and 67 1/3 innings in the big leagues this season.
  • ]]>
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Heaney "Not Very Concerned" About Shoulder Tightness]]> 2017-09-10T17:24:57Z 2017-09-10T17:24:57Z
  • Andrew Heaney left his start last night during the third inning due to shoulder tightness, though the Angels right-hander tells Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register and other reporters that he’s “not very concerned” about the injury.  Heaney only just returned from Tommy John rehab in August and has made five starts (to a 7.06 ERA in 21 2/3 IP) for the Halos.  A shoulder issue is less of a red flag than an elbow or forearm problem given Heaney’s history, and he said he hopes to soon resume throwing.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Yunel Escobar Suffers Setback]]> 2017-09-09T23:40:50Z 2017-09-09T23:40:50Z
  • Twins manager Paul Molitor told reporters Friday that left-hander Hector Santiago is likely done for the season (via Rhett Bollinger of Santiago, who hasn’t taken a major league mound since July 2 because of a shoulder strain, threw just 84 mph to 87 mph in a Triple-A rehab start Sunday (down from his usual low-90s velocity) and is undergoing further testing in Minnesota, according to Bollinger. With his contract set to expire at season’s end, the 29-year-old Santiago may be done as a Twin. Formerly a capable starter with the White Sox and Angels, Santiago has posted unsightly numbers – including a 5.61 ERA and a 28.4 percent groundball rate – over 131 2/3 innings since the Twins acquired him from Los Angeles last summer.
  • Angels third baseman Yunel Escobar had another setback in his rehab from an oblique injury, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register tweets. Nevertheless, manager Mike Scioscia still expects to see Escobar again this season. The impending free agent hasn’t played since Aug. 6 and was in the middle of a mediocre season at the time of his injury (.274/.333/.397 in 381 PAs).
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Angels Designate Brooks Pounders, Purchase Contract Of Shane Robinson]]> 2017-09-08T23:52:58Z 2017-09-08T23:23:22Z The Angels have designated righty Brooks Pounders for assignment, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports (Twitter links). His roster spot will go to outfielder Shane Robinson, whose contract was purchased. Infielder Jefry Marte has also gone on the 10-day DL with a fractured left foot.

    Pounders, who’ll soon turn 27, has struggled in limited MLB action over the past two seasons. He has given up ten home runs among 36 hits over just 23 frames, with a 9.78 ERA resulting. That said, Pounders has managed a 25:8 K/BB ratio in that span, with an 11.9% swinging-strike rate. And he carries a 2.63 ERA with 8.6 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9 over his 51 1/3 Triple-A frames in 2017.

    The 32-year-old Robinson saw time with the Halos earlier this year, marking his eighth big-league season, and accepted an outright assignment after being removed from the 40-man roster. He has never hit much in the majors, but owns a solid .319/.370/.425 batting line with 28 walks against 37 strikeouts over 385 plate appearances this year at Salt Lake City.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 9/7/17]]> 2017-09-07T21:38:18Z 2017-09-07T21:38:18Z Here are Thursday’s moves from around the league…

    • Right-hander Daniel Wright has cleared waivers and been sent outright to Triple-A Salt Lake, the Angels announced today. Wright, 26, was designated for assignment three days ago when the Angels claimed Dayan Diaz off waivers from Houston. Through 19 2/3 innings with the Angels this year, Wright turned in a 4.58 ERA with an 11-to-8 K/BB ratio. Overall, he owns a 5.61 ERA with 4.9 K/9 against 2.4 BB/9 in 56 1/3 Major League frames between the Halos and the Reds. His work in Triple-A has resulted in a 6.58 ERA with 126 strikeouts against 60 walks in 176 1/3 innings.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Angels Activate Garrett Richards, Designate Mike Morin, Vicente Campos]]> 2017-09-05T23:27:11Z 2017-09-05T23:27:11Z The Angels announced that they’ve activated right-hander Garrett Richards from the 60-day disabled list and selected the contract of right-hander Deolis Guerra from Triple-A Salt Lake prior to tonight’s game. To clear room on the 40-man roster, right-handers Mike Morin and Vicente Campos have been designated for assignment.

    In 2014-15, Richards looked like an emergent ace on the Angels’ staff, but injuries have wrecked his past two seasons. Richards tossed just 34 1/3 innings last season, as he was limited by a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. However, he did not opt for Tommy John surgery, as most victims of UCL tears do, instead opting for stem cell treatment that allowed him to avoid going under the knife.

    This year, though, a nerve issue in his right biceps cropped up in April, sending Richards back to the disabled list once again. The 29-year-old has made just one appearance for the Angels all season and will look to finish out the year on a strong note to provide some hope that he can be healthy in 2018.

    Morin, 26, had a terrific rookie campaign back in 2014 but has logged a 5.38 ERA in 105 1/3 innings since that promising debut season. Morin hasn’t had much trouble missing bats in the Majors, but his strikeout rate has dropped in the minors in recent years. He’s averaged just 5.7 K/9 in 39 1/3 innings in Triple-A this year, though he’s also posted a strong 1.6 BB/9 rate and notched a very solid 3.20 ERA there.

    Campos, 25, has an 8.22 ERA through 23 innings across three minor league levels this season. The Halos picked him up off waivers from the D-backs last offseason, knowing that he was facing an eight-month recovery from a fractured forearm that required surgery last September. Campos received a bit of fanfare as a prospect with the Yankees last year before being traded to the D-backs in exchange for Tyler Clippard. In 503 minor league innings, he has a 3.80 ERA with 8.1 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9.

    The 28-year-old Guerra will be making his second appearance on the Angels’ 40-man roster. He was outrighted earlier this year but remained in the organization after clearing waivers. Guerra notched a 3.21 ERA with 6.1 K/9 and 1.2 BB/9 in 53 1/3 innings with the Angels last year and recorded a brilliant 1.98 ERA with a 41-to-8 K/BB ratio in 41 Triple-A frames after this season’s outright assignment.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Angels Claim Dayan Diaz, Designate Daniel Wright]]> 2017-09-04T20:03:13Z 2017-09-04T19:57:54Z The Angels announced on Monday that they’ve claimed right-hander Dayan Diaz off waivers from the Astros. Fellow right-hander Daniel Wright was designated for assignment in a corresponding roster move.

    Diaz was already linked to the Angels in one respect anyhow, as he’d been designated for assignment by the Astros in order to clear a roster spot for Cameron Maybin, who’d been claimed off waivers from the Halos. In essence, the Angels will swap Maybin and Wright out off the 40-man roster for Diaz, though there’s still a chance that they could keep Wright in the organization for the time being.

    The 28-year-old Diaz made his Major League debut with the Reds last season but was cut loose at season’s end, at which point he signed a minor league deal with the Astros. In a combined 19 2/3 MLB innings, Diaz has an unsightly 9.15 ERA. While he’s picked up an impressive 23 strikeouts in that short time and averaged 94 mph on his fastball, he’s also walked 11 batters and thrown four wild pitches. In 161 career innings at the Triple-A level, Diaz has a much more appealing 2.96 earned run average with 8.2 K/9 against 3.5 BB/9.

    Like Diaz, Wright debuted with the Reds last season but didn’t find much success in the Majors. The 26-year-old tossed 19 2/3 innings with the Halos this year, working to a 4.58 ERA with an 11-to-8 K/BB ratio in that time. Overall, he owns a 5.61 ERA with 4.9 K/9 against 2.4 BB/9 in 56 1/3 Major League frames. Wright has logged considerably more time in Triple-A, though the results there have been even less favorable; through 176 1/3 innings at the top minor league level, he’s posted a 6.58 ERA with 126 punchouts against 60 free passes.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Latest On Justin Upton]]> 2017-09-04T00:25:00Z 2017-09-04T00:25:00Z
  • The Angels were one of Justin Upton’s targets when he was a free agent two winters ago, and he has a home in Arizona, which could facilitate remaining on the west coast if he doesn’t opt out of his contract.  Ultimately, Upton’s September performance will decide whether or not he chooses to stick with the Angels or opt out of the four years and $88.5MM remaining on his deal.  In an MLBTR poll from Thursday, just under 56% of respondents feel Upton will indeed opt out and look for a bigger deal this winter.

  • ]]>
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Billy Eppler's Moves Setting Angels Up For Multiyear Contention]]> 2017-09-03T21:58:08Z 2017-09-03T21:58:08Z
  • Not long ago, it looked as though the Angels were going to continue wasting Mike Trout’s presence, but both the present and near future suddenly look bright in Anaheim, Joel Sherman of the New York Post observes. Having traded for all-world shortstop Andrelton Simmons and big-hitting left fielder Justin Upton during his two-year run as the Angels’ general manager, Billy Eppler has given Trout a pair of quality position player complements who, like the center fielder, are under contract through 2020, Sherman notes (though Upton may well opt out after the season). The Angels could add to that group with a free agent like Eric Hosmer or Mike Moustakas during the offseason, writes Sherman, who also names Alex Cobb as a potential offseason target for their rotation. Additionally, Sherman lauds Eppler for improving a farm system that was nearly barren upon his arrival.  Regardless of whether the playoff-contending Angels qualify for the postseason in 2017, then, they’re beginning to look like a team that could capitalize on having Trout before his contract expires.
  • ]]>
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Garrett Richards To Return Tuesday]]> 2017-09-03T14:43:39Z 2017-09-03T13:47:58Z
  • Angels right-hander Garrett Richards will make his long-awaited return to their rotation Tuesday against Oakland, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register was among those to report. Richards hasn’t started since April 5, his lone outing of the year, on account of biceps nerve irritation. The 29-year-old will be on a 50-pitch limit in his upcoming start and will gradually increase the count toward 100 by the end of the regular season, Fletcher relays. Both Richards and manager Mike Scioscia are confident the front-end starter is healthy and will fare nicely when he comes back, even though injuries have limited him to 39 1/3 innings since 2016.
  • ]]>
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Angels Notes: Upton, Ramirez]]> 2017-09-03T01:10:20Z 2017-09-03T00:33:55Z More on the Halos and two other AL clubs:

    • Angels right-hander J.C. Ramirez will miss the rest of the season because of an elbow strain, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports (Twitter link). The Halos placed Ramirez on the 60-day disabled list on Friday, which didn’t come as a surprise given that he received a platelet-rich plasma injection earlier this week and looked unlikely to return at the time. Fortunately for both team and player, general manager Billy Eppler announced that the Angels haven’t found any new structural damage in Ramirez’s elbow. The 29-year-old turned in a respectable season before the injury, tossing 147 1/3 innings of 4.15 ERA ball and recording 6.41 K/9 against 2.99 BB/9, to go with a 51.4 percent groundball rate.

    Speaking with Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports on Saturday, newly minted Angels left fielder Justin Upton noted that the free agent market has changed since January 2016, when he signed a six-year, $132.75MM contract with the Tigers, adding that “teams are looking for different things” (Twitter link). While the market shift could impact whether the 29-year-old opts out of the remaining $88.5MM on his contract after the season, it seems he’s considering vacating what’s left of the pact. “If you play well enough, there’s a job for you,” said Upton, who has slashed .279/.362/.541 with 28 home runs in 528 plate appearances in 2017. Thanks to his outstanding performance this year, the majority of those who voted in MLBTR’s latest poll on Friday expect Upton to test free agency again in the offseason.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Notable September Call-Ups]]> 2017-09-02T07:02:41Z 2017-09-02T03:00:58Z September 1 marks the date on which regular-season rosters expand from 25 to 40 in Major League Baseball. While the merit of that rule and its impact on games are a source of debate — MLB games tend to increase considerably in length in September as managers can more freely make pitching changes with deeper bullpens — the fact remains that there could be more than 100 players promoted to the big leagues today as the first wave of call-ups arrives.

    Many September call-ups are players that have experience already under their belt. Journeyman big leaguers with exceptionally specific roles (e.g. pinch-running and defensive specialists) become a luxury that teams can now afford, and many teams will bring up a third catcher or additional bullpen arms for depth, even if a long-term MLB role isn’t likely for said players.

    Some promotions, though, are more notable than others. Big league teams will often use the month of September to get a look at their top organizational prospects, and in some instances September can provide a potential audition for former stars seeking to reestablish themselves. (The Orioles, for instance, were reported last night to be bringing slugger Pedro Alvarez up from Triple-A for the season’s final month.)

    All that said, here are some of this year’s more notable September promotions (we’ll update throughout the day as more moves are announced)…

    • Four new youngsters are joining the Cardinals, the team announced. Outfielder Harrison Bader and infielder Alex Mejia were already on the 40-man, but the team has also gone ahead and added righty Sandy Alcantara and backstop Alberto Rosario. Alcantara is an interesting pitcher to keep an eye on, as he reputedly comes with a big arm and could contribute from the bullpen — though he’s still ironing things out as a starter after spending the year pitching to a 4.31 ERA at Double-A.
    • The Indians announced that they’ve recalled top catching prospect Francisco Mejia from Double-A Akron and selected the contract of outfielder Greg Allen from Akron, thus adding him to the 40-man roster. The 21-year-old Mejia is commonly regarded as one of the top 25 prospects in all of Major League Baseball and was reportedly the would-be centerpiece to the Jonathan Lucroy trade that Lucroy vetoed in 2016. Allen, too, was set to be a part of that trade but has instead remained in the Indians organization and will now join Mejia in donning a big league jersey for the first time this month.
    • Right-hander Fernando Salas will return to the Angels, who announced last night that his contract has been selected from Triple-A Salt Lake. Salas spent parts of three seasons as a useful bullpen arm for the Angels before a trade to the Mets last August. While he dominated for New York down the stretch, Salas was torched for a 6.00 ERA this year after re-signing with the Mets. He tossed three scoreless innings in Salt Lake City and will hope for a strong finish to bolster offseason interest.
    • The Blue Jays, too, will be getting another look at an old friend. Outfielder Michael Saunders is joining the Jays as a September call-up, tweets’s Greg Johns. While Saunders is merely looking to show well in his return to the Majors after struggling badly with the Phillies earlier this season, another outfielder is looking to carve out a long-term role in Toronto; trade acquisition Teoscar Hernandez is also on his way to the Majors, per Johns. The 24-year-old Hernandez was acquired in the Francisco Liriano swap and has posted a combined .265/.351/.490 batting line in 456 Triple-A plate appearances this season.
    • The Mets are promoting right-handers Jacob Rhame and Jamie Callahan, tweets’s Anthony DiComo. While neither reliever is considered to be among the game’s best prospects — they rank 23rd and 30th, respectively, on’s list of the Mets’ top 30 prospects — both were recently acquired on the trade market. Rhame came to the Mets from the Dodgers as the return for Curtis Granderson, while Callahan arrived in Queens by way of the Addison Reed trade with the Red Sox. Both will be looking to make a strong impression as they seek to secure a long-term spot in the Mets’ bullpen.
    • The Tigers are getting their first look at left-handed reliever Jairo Labourt, per a team announcement. The 23-year-old was acquired alongside Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd in exchange fo David Price back in 2015. He’s turned in an excellent 2.17 ERA across three minor league levels this season and averaged better than 10 strikeouts per nine innings, albeit with some shaky control (4.5 BB/9).
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Angels Acquire Brandon Phillips]]> 2017-09-01T04:01:12Z 2017-09-01T03:59:26Z 10:59pm: The Braves have now formally announced the trade.

    10:17pm: Braves GM John Coppolella has acknowledged the deal to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution (Twitter links). While there’s been no formal press release announcing the swap, Coppolella tells O’Brien that the Angels were the ones who approached the Braves on the deal. Atlanta felt it was a chance to reward Phillips by allowing him to receive the $500K trade assign bonus in his contract and also get a chance to play in the postseason.

    10:08pm: Phillips’ contract calls for a $500K assignment bonus in the event that he is traded, and the Angels will be responsible for paying that sum, Bowman tweets.

    9:55pm: The Angels have swung a deal to acquire infielder Brandon Phillips from the Braves, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). Reports earlier today indicated the sides were close to a swap, with the only hang-up being whether Phillips would accept the deal. (He could block a trade to the Halos and eleven other teams by the terms of his contract.) According to’s Mark Bowman, the Angels are sending former big league catcher Tony Sanchez to the Braves in return (Twitter link).

    Brandon Phillips | Bill Streicher-USA TODAY SportsPhillips recently shifted from second base to third base in Atlanta to accommodate the promotion of presumptive second baseman of the future Ozzie Albies, but he figures to slide back to his natural position of second base in Anaheim. While he’s no longer the offensive force that he once was, Phillips and his .291/.329/.423 slash line will be a marked upgrade for an Angel club that has seen its second baseman post a collectively abysmal .196/.271/.318 batting line in 2017.

    While Phillips represents an immediate upgrade to the Angels’ Wild Card chances in the American League, he’s as pure a rental as they come; the three-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glover will hit free agency following the 2017 season. However, by acquiring Phillips on Aug. 31, the Halos have ensured that he’ll be eligible for their postseason roster in the event that they do ultimately secure a Wild Card berth. At present, they’re 1.5 games behind the Twins for the second slot in the American League and 2.5 games back of the Yankees for the top Wild Card slot.

    That Sanchez, a former top pick who has now been relegated to journeyman status, is the return for Phillips speaks to the fact that the veteran infielder did not carry significant trade value. The Reds shipped Phillips to Atlanta this offseason and picked up all but $1MM of his remaining salary, and the Braves will presumably shed that commitment while giving the 36-year-old Phillips a chance to return to postseason play — an opportunity he wouldn’t have been afforded in Atlanta this season.

    Sanchez has posted a .272/.355/.374 slash in Triple-A this season, and while he could conceivably be a September call-up, it seems unlikely that the Braves would carry him on the 40-man roster all winter. In all likelihood, his time with the organization will be limited.

    For the Braves, shedding Phillips provides a relatively nominal amount of cost-savings but also opens regular at-bats for younger options to prove themselves capable pieces of the future in the season’s final month. Albies was already penciled in at second base, while Dansby Swanson has demonstrated immense improvements at shortstop upon his recent recall from Triple-A. Johan Camargo, another young infielder who has taken a step forward with a successful, albeit BABIP-driven rookie campaign, could be in line for at-bats at the hot corner down the stretch.

    Atlanta could also use the now-vacated at-bats to take a second look at Rio Ruiz — a former fourth-round pick of the Astros that signed a huge bonus out of the draft and came to the Braves alongside Mike Foltynewicz as part of the Evan Gattis trade. While Ruiz underwhelmed in his first taste of big league action, he only turned 23 years old in late May and has shown a bit of pop in Triple-A this year.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Angels, Braves Discussing Brandon Phillips Swap]]> 2017-09-01T02:05:22Z 2017-09-01T00:00:29Z 9:01pm: While awaiting a decision from Phillips, the teams are still “working to finalize details,”’s Buster Olney tweets. Still, though, it seems the matter hinges on Phillips’s own decisionmaking, as Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweeted earlier.

    7:00pm: The Angels and Braves are attempting to work out a deal that would send infielder Brandon Phillips to Los Angeles, according to Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (Twitter link). Phillips, who was a late scratch from the lineup tonight, is considering right now whether to accept a deal, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets. He can block trades to a dozen clubs; presumably, the Halos are one of them.

    Since cutting ties with Danny Espinosa earlier in the year, the Angels have relied heavily upon Kaleb Cowart at second base. But Cowart is slashing just .233/.289/.411 over 99 plate appearances on the year and has struggled badly of late. Having already added Justin Upton earlier today, the Halos are understandably looking to further bolster their lineup by targeting an area where they can make a relatively significant improvement at a marginal cost.

    Phillips, 36, came to Atlanta from the Reds over the winter. He’s earning $14MM this year, but Cincinnati is covering all but a million of that sum. With less than $200K left on the Braves’ share of the bill, Phillips is an affordable option — though he also would stand to take home a $500K assignment bonus under a clause negotiated when he approved the trade to the Braves.

    There’s also now some added versatility for the long-time second baseman, who has seen action at the hot corner for the first time this year. While he’s no longer a premium defender at second, Phillips is still a sturdy gloveman there and has drawn good reviews during his limited action at third.

    With his typical low-walk, high-contact approach, Phillips has posted a .291/.329/.423 batting line over 499 plate appearances, with 11 home runs and 10 steals. That’s right around the league average in terms of overall offensive productivity, just where Phillips has landed in each of the prior five campaigns.

    All told, though Phillips is far from a top-end second baseman, he has been a steadily useful player. For a team like the Angels, who have quite an evident need at second base, he could be quite a handy addition down the stretch and into the postseason.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[MLBTR Poll: Will Justin Upton Opt Out?]]> 2017-08-31T23:50:05Z 2017-08-31T22:49:58Z Angels outfielder Justin Upton — if that sounds odd, you might want to click this link — faces an interesting decision after the end of the season. He already has the right to $88.5MM in guaranteed salary for the next four seasons, but can choose instead to opt out of the contract and take his talents onto the open market once again.

    Entering the season, the latter course seemed less than likely. After all, Upton managed only a .246/.310/.465 batting line in 2016, his worst-ever full-season batting line. Though he did swat 31 home runs, matching a personal best, Upton was at or near career-worst levels in strikeouts (28.6%) and walks (8.0%). As the second consecutive year in which his output with the bat had declined, there was cause for some concern.

    Needless to say, though, Upton has turned things around thus far in 2017. He’s currently slashing .279/.362/.542 and has already knocked 28 balls out of the yard through 520 trips to the plate. Though his strikeouts haven’t dipped, he’s now walking at an 11.0% clip that’s better than his career average, all while sporting a personal-high 44.1% hard-hit rate. And Upton has rated as a quality performer with the glove out in left field.

    That’s not where Upton’s case for opting out ends, however. While he is now in his 11th season in the majors — which seems hard to believe — the slugger only just turned 30 a few days ago. And since he has previously received a qualifying offer (and also now has been traded mid-season), he won’t be eligible to receive a QO — meaning there’s no risk of his market being dragged down by draft compensation.

    There are plenty of comps that suggest Upton could well out-earn what he already has in hand. On the high side, we have seen several somewhat older outfielders take down nine-figure guarantees: Yoenis Cespedes (four years, $110MM entering age-31 season), Shin-Soo Choo (seven years, $130MM entering age-31 season), and Josh Hamilton (five years, $125MM entering age-32 season) all come to mind. On the lower side, there’s plenty of reason to think that Upton can beat Dexter Fowler’s five-year, $82.5MM deal or the $88MM over four years that Hanley Ramirez received. Of course, Upton himself secured a $132.75MM guarantee before the 2016 season; though he was two years younger, he also was coming off of a less-impressive campaign.

    That said, there’s no denying that there’s risk in casting himself back into free agency. Upton may not find it worth his while if he and his agents do not anticipate offers that are all that much more significant. It’s somewhat difficult to forecast the market for power hitters given the recent surge in offense (and home runs, in particular). Last year, several big bats came in somewhat under expectations; this fall, there’ll be competition (especially former teammate J.D. Martinez, but also potentially including older players and possible trade targets).

    There’s another month left on the year, and that could matter, too. Upton will have to stay healthy and remain at least mostly productive to have the best potential free-agent case. He might also conceivably just end up deciding he feels comfortable in his new digs. But it’s a good time for a prediction: do you think Upton will opt out? (Link for app users.)

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Angels Acquire Justin Upton]]> 2017-08-31T22:08:09Z 2017-08-31T19:46:06Z In a stunning development, the Angels and Tigers have agreed to a deal sending outfielder Justin Upton to Anaheim in exchange for minor league right-hander Grayson Long and a player to be named later or cash, per an announcement from the Tigers. The Angels are reportedly responsible for the four years and $88.5MM on Upton’s contract beyond the current season (if he does not exercise an opt-out clause) as well as most of his remaining 2017 salary. (Detroit is said to be paying less than $1MM of the approximately $3.5MM left of Upton’s $22.125MM annual salary for this season.)

    Justin Upton | Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY SportsThe trade represents a massive boon to an Angels lineup that is firmly in the mix for an American League Wild Card spot. While Upton’s first couple of months as a Tiger made his six-year deal look like a regrettable misstep, he’s been nothing short of one of the best hitters on the planet for the past 14 months. Dating back to July 1 of last year, Upton has raked at a .273/.351/.551 pace with 51 homers in 831 plate appearances. That line includes an even more magnificent .282/.368/.578 slash over the past calendar year. Over his past 631 plate appearances, Upton has clubbed 41 home runs.

    Upton has performed so well, in fact, that his contractual opt-out clause following the 2017 season went from looking like like an easy call to remain in Detroit to a distinct possibility of being exercised. Upton has four years and $88.5MM remaining on his contract following the season, but he’d need only to match the money Boston guaranteed to Hanley Ramirez to eclipse that total. One direct comparable, Yoenis Cespedes, received a four-year, $110MM contract last winter in free agency when he was a year older than Upton will be this winter.’s Jon Morosi reports (on Twitter) that Upton had decided that he was likely to opt out of his contract following the season due to the Tigers’ rebuild. When he informed the team of that plan, trade talks quickly picked up. As noted below, the Tigers would’ve stood to lose Upton for nothing (outside of tremendous salary relief, which they’ve achieved anyway), as he cannot receive a second qualifying offer under the new collective bargaining agreement. ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets that Upton gave the Angels no assurances one way or the other about whether he’ll opt out of the contract at season’s end.

    Angels left fielders, on the whole, have been among the least productive groups at their position in all of 2017. Anaheim left fielders are batting a woeful .244/.315/.341 thanks to underwhelming contributions from both Cameron Maybin, who has reportedly been traded to the Astros to facilitate the acquisition of Upton, and Ben Revere, who has been hot as of late but has posted generally underwhelming numbers since the onset of the 2016 season with the Nationals.

    Long, 23, was the Angels’ third-round pick in 2015 and rates as the No. 9 prospect in Anaheim’s thin farm system, per Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis of He spent the beginning of the 2017 season pitching for Class-A Advanced but quickly progressed to Double-A, where he’s pitched quite well in 23 starts. In 133 2/3 innings combined between those two levels, Long has a 2.69 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9. He’s more of a fly-ball pitcher, as evidenced by his 33.1 percent grounder rate in Double-A. Callis and Mayo suggest that the 6’5″, 230-pound Long has the ceiling of a “solid” big league starter. Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen tweets that Long has exceeded expectations in 2017 and projects as a possible back-of-the-rotation arm.

    Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic first reported the two sides were nearing a deal (via Twitter). Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweeted that the agreement was in place, while ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported that the agreement was still pending medical review (Twitter link). Crasnick also reported Long’s inclusion in the trade (Twitter link). Sherman tweeted that a PTBNL was also in the deal, while USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweeted the financial details of the swap. Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweeted the Tigers’ salary contribution.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Astros Acquire Cameron Maybin Via Waiver Claim]]> 2017-08-31T19:15:07Z 2017-08-31T19:04:28Z 2:04pm: The Astros actually claimed Maybin off revocable waivers, reports Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). The Angels are simply letting go of the remainder of his $9MM salary — about $1.5MM — which Houston will absorb in the trade. There aren’t any other players changing hands.

    1:37pm: The Astros have agreed to acquire outfielder Cameron Maybin from the Angels, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (on Twitter). The trade of Maybin comes in conjunction with the Halos’ reported blockbuster acquisition of Justin Upton from the Tigers.

    Maybin will bring extra outfield depth to the Astros, though there’s no readily open everyday spot for him in an outfield currently comprised of Derek Fisher, George Springer and Josh Reddick. But, he’ll bring plenty of speed to the Astros’ roster as rosters are set to expand, giving the team a valuable pinch-running option as well as a potential right-handed complement to either Reddick or Fisher. It’s also worth noting that after a solid start to his big league career, Fisher has fallen into a prolonged slump, so Maybin will give the team another option in the outfield should Fisher continue to look overmatched.

    Since coming over from the Tigers over the offseason, the 30-year-old has turned in 387 plate appearances of .235/.333/.351 hitting with six home runs and an AL-leading 29 stolen bases. While the overall batting output has been below the league average, Maybin has posted a boost in his walk rate (to 12.4%), is one of the games best baserunners, and has graded as an average or better fielder in left and center.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Injury Notes: Wright, Cueto, Kershaw, Wood, Ethier, Sano, Ramirez, Bailey]]> 2017-08-30T13:50:24Z 2017-08-30T13:50:24Z Though he is now dealing with yet another setback and has not appeared in the majors since May of last year, Mets third baseman David Wright is not considering retiring, a source tells Mike Puma of the New York Post. A lingering shoulder injury is the most immediate problem limiting Wright, though he has also dealt with significant neck and back issues that he’ll continue to battle in the future. With three years and $47MM left on his contract, Wright will evidently keep trying to make it back to the majors, though at present it is unclear what course he’ll take in trying to overcome his maladies.

    Here’s more on some other injury situations from around the game:

    • Giants righty Johnny Cueto said he feels ready to return to the majors, as Alex Pavlovic of CSN Bay Area writes. He has taken two rehab starts in his bid to return from a flexor strain that has kept him out of action since mid-July. That injury seemingly makes it quite likely that Cueto will elect not to opt out of the remaining four years and $84MM of his contract this fall. Cueto seemingly acknowledged that, saying that his “whole mentality has been for me to stay here,” though he also noted that’ll be a decision that’s made in consultation with his agent at season’s end.
    • The Dodgers are set to welcome back a pair of key southpaws later this week, as Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports (Twitter links). Clayton Kershaw is scheduled to pitch Friday, with Alex Wood taking the ball on Sunday. Kershaw has been out since late July, making for the second-straight year in which he has missed significant time due to back issues. Wood’s DL stint has been of a shorter duration, with the belief being that his SC joint inflammation is something that can be managed rather than a symptom of a more significant problem. Needless to say, both are critical to the team’s ever-rising postseason expectations. The Dodgers are also awaiting a return from yet another starter, righty Brandon McCarthy, who has been out with a finger blister. As Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register tweets, the right-hander’s scheduled rehab start this week has been bumped, so his status is unclear at the moment.
    • Also nearing his return to the Dodgers is veteran outfielder Andre Ethier, as Plunkett further reports on Twitter. The club will make a move after rosters expand at the start of September. The 35-year-old faces an uncertain playing-time situation, to be sure. Los Angeles just added a left-handed-hitting veteran outfielder in Curtis Granderson and now features Adrian Gonzalez as a southpaw-swinging bench bat. Ethier has missed the entire season to date with a herniated disc in his back. He’ll almost certainly hit the open market after this year, receiving a $2.5MM buyout if (likely, when) the team declines a $17.5MM club option. Despite his many recent medical problems, there ought to be some market if Ethier can show he’s healthy in September; after all, as recently as 2015 he was a productive hitter (.294/.366/.486 over 445 plate appearances).
    • While the Twins are currently pacing the pack for the second American League Wild Card spot, the team has gone without key slugger Miguel Sano. While he does seem to be improving from what has been called a “stress reaction” to his left shin, writes’s Rhett Bollinger, Sano still hasn’t begun running or fielding. Manager Paul Molitor says things are “moving rather slowly” for the third baseman. Sano, 24, has turned in 475 plate appearances of .267/.356/.514 hitting with 28 home runs on the year, meaning the team is going without a middle-of-the-order bat that isn’t really replaceable. Given the nature of his injury, though, there’s likely not much that can be done but hope that he responds to treatment.
    • The Angels are awaiting news from a re-examination of right-hander J.C. Ramirez after he underwent a platelet-rich plasma injection in his right elbow, Pedro Moura  of the Los Angeles Times tweets. Ramirez, 29, had settled into a starting role for the club, providing 147 1/3 innings of 4.15 ERA ball to a rotation that badly needed it. That sets him up fairly well as a possible Super Two candidate; it remains to be seen whether Ramirez will qualify for arbitration after entering the year with 1.139 years of service. Given that he only just underwent that injection, though, it seems optimistic to expect that he’ll make it back to the mound in 2017.
    • Meanwhile, fellow Angels righty Andrew Bailey is giving up any attempts to return in the present season, Moura further reports on Twitter. He will, however, attempt to get his shoulder back to health in order to return in 2018. Bailey had shown well for the Halos in a late-season stint last year and re-signed with the club for $1MM over the winter, but has managed only four major-league frames on the year. He’s set to return to the open market at the end of the season.
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Latest On Huston Street]]> 2017-08-26T17:12:18Z 2017-08-26T17:02:47Z
  • Huston Street has resumed throwing this week and the veteran reliever is hoping to make it back for the last two weeks of the season, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register tweets.  The Angels righty has pitched in just four games this season thanks to two lengthy DL stints, the first due to a strained lat muscle, and then his current absence, which began in early July due to a groin strain but Street was then shut down in early August due to a mild right rotator cuff strain.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Angels Sign Fernando Salas To Minors Deal]]> 2017-08-22T20:57:34Z 2017-08-22T20:56:46Z The Angels have brought right-hander Fernando Salas back into the fold on a minor league pact, the team’s Triple-A affiliate announced this weekend (Twitter link). The 32-year-old Salas, who was recently released by the Mets after a down season, has already tossed a scoreless frame for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate in Salt Lake City. He’s represented by Paragon Sports.

    Salas is a known commodity for much of the Angels organization, having spent the better part of three seasons there from 2014-16. In 178 1/3 innings as a member of the Angels, Salas pitched to a 4.03 ERA with 9.1 K/9 against 2.3 BB/9. His first tenure with the club ultimately ended when he was flipped to the Mets in an August swap 53 weeks ago. That trade was initially a boon for the Mets’ relief corps, as Salas hurled 17 1/3 innings with just four runs allowed on 11 hits and no walks with 19 strikeouts.

    That run of dominance prompted a return to Queens on a one-year, $3MM contract this offseason, but Salas’ second year with the Mets didn’t match the first. In 45 innings this season, he logged an even 6.00 ERA. Much of those struggles were due to a .379 BABIP that looks rather fluky, but Salas also averaged 4.0 walks per nine innings pitched — his worst mark since 2012 — and allowed hard contact at a 37.4 percent clip (the second-worst mark of his career). Conversely, Salas’ 9.4 K/9 rate was the second-highest mark in any of his eight MLB seasons, and his 45.1 percent ground-ball rate was easily a career-high.

    The Angels will only owe Salas the pro-rated portion of the league minimum for any time he spends in the Majors, as the Mets will be on the hook for the remainder of his contract. With a solid showing in Triple-A, Salas could very well emerge as an option for the Angels in the season’s final month, perhaps helping to pick up some of the slack following Anaheim’s trade of fellow righty David Hernandez to the Diamondbacks.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[J.C. Ramirez Shut Down With Elbow Injury]]> 2017-08-23T13:49:20Z 2017-08-22T16:45:42Z
  • The Angels aren’t sure when they’ll get righty J.C. Ramirez back from an elbow injury, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register writes. Ramirez has been shut down with what has been diagnosed as a strain. “He’s in a no-throw situation as we assess his strength,” says GM Billy Eppler. Ramirez, 29, has been quite the pick-up for the Halos. Since joining the organization last year, he has provided 193 2/3 innings of 3.86 ERA pitching — a distinct turnaround from the marginal results he had produced previously.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Angels Targeting September Return For Garrett Richards]]> 2017-08-20T20:29:40Z 2017-08-20T20:29:40Z
  • The Angels are targeting a September return for righty Garrett Richards, who will face live hitters Sunday for the first time since he made his lone start of the year on April 5, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register writes. Biceps nerve irritation has sidelined Richards, who missed nearly all of last season with elbow troubles. With roster expansion forthcoming, manager Mike Scioscia suggested that the Angels won’t need to stretch Richards out fully in order for him to rejoin the playoff hopefuls’ rotation. “I don’t think it’s realistic to get Garrett stretched out to the 75-, 90-, 100-pitch range, but I do see a scenario if he gets to 60 pitches, we might use him to come to our rotation and see how far he gets because we’ll have plenty of pitching to follow up at that point,” Scioscia said.
  • ]]>
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Rays Claim Cesar Puello From Angels]]> 2017-08-20T00:33:01Z 2017-08-20T00:18:57Z The Rays have claimed outfielder Cesar Puello off waivers from the Angels, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reports (on Twitter). The Angels designated Puello for assignment last Saturday.

    The Rays organization will be the fifth for the 26-year-old Puello, who topped out at No. 77 among Baseball America’s 100 best prospects when he was with the Mets in 2010. Puello hasn’t been a factor in the majors, though he does own a quality .289/.379/.447 line with 49 stolen bases on 57 attempts in 1,039 Triple-A plate appearances. A significant amount of that damage has come this year in minor league stints with the Rangers and Halos, with whom Puello combined to slash .327/.377/.526 with 13 home runs and 18 steals on 22 tries in 379 PAs.

    Puello, who made his big league debut and sole appearances with the Angels on Aug. 9 (and went 1 for 4 with two steals), is out of minor league options. As such, the Rays will either have to add the righty-swinging Puello to their 25-man roster or attempt to send him through waivers again. With Kevin Kiermaier, Steven Souza Jr., Corey Dickerson and Peter Bourjos, the Rays already seem to have a full complement of outfielders on hand at the big league level, which helped lead to a demotion for Mallex Smith on Friday.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[MLBTR Mailbag: Lowrie, Bruce, Giants, Controllable Starters]]> 2017-08-19T14:50:12Z 2017-08-19T13:24:38Z Thanks as always for your questions! If yours wasn’t selected this week, you can always pose it in one of our weekly chats: Steve Adams at 2pm CST on Tuesdays, Jason Martinez at 6:30pm CST on Wednesdays, and yours truly at 2pm CST on Thursdays.

    Here are this week’s questions and answers:

    Why is it so hard for the A’s to move Jed Lowrie? — Rene H.

    Well, there has been a bit of a game of musical chairs in the second/third base market. The Red Sox went with Eduardo Nunez. The Nationals grabbed Howie Kendrick, who can also play outfield. The Brewers ended up with Neil Walker in August. Those deals filled some of the main needs out there, though there are at least a few teams that could still make a move. The Angels stand out; the Indians have looked in this area; and the Blue Jays could be a dark horse if they make a run.

    But let’s suppose a few organizations are indeed still poking around on Lowrie. Those same teams will also have other options to consider. Ian Kinsler is now off the market after his waiver claim was revoked by the Tigers. But Brandon Phillips and Zack Cozart are both pending free agents who could move. Yangervis Solarte may not clear waivers, but could be claimed and pursued. And Asdrubal Cabrera also represents a possibility.

    Cabrera, like Lowrie, comes with a club option for 2018. In Lowrie’s case, it’s just a $6MM cost to keep him (against a $1MM buyout). He has surely played well enough to make that a decent asset to move over the winter. And perhaps Oakland isn’t all that anxious to press Franklin Barreto into everyday duty in the majors just yet. After all, he’s only 21, didn’t hit much in his brief debut, and has encountered a rising strikeout rate at Triple-A. Lowrie could help stabilize the infield the rest of the way or even in 2018, or he could still be flipped if a decent offer comes along.

    How do you guys see the [free-agent] market for Jay Bruce developing? I have a hard time believing that a 30/31-year-old who has six seasons where he OPSed over .800 would have trouble locking down a fourth year at a $13MM AAV. — Alex W.

    As Alex helpfully pointed out in his email, there are indeed quite a few corner outfielders that have landed free-agent contracts in that range. Recent deals that could work as comparables run from Nick Markakis (4/$44MM) and Josh Reddick (4/$52MM) up to Nick Swisher (4/$56MM) and Curtis Granderson (4/$60MM). Bruce is a plausible candidate to land in that general realm.

    I do think Bruce is flying under the radar a bit, given the obvious appeal of his quality offensive output this year — .267/.334/.541 with 32 homers. It doesn’t hurt that he has turned things on thus far since going to the Indians, has finally reversed the abysmal defensive metrics, and is regarded as a top-shelf professional. The two lost seasons of 2014 and 2015 are hard to ignore entirely, and he has never hit lefties nearly so much as righties, but he has returned to his prior trajectory since and has been average at the plate when facing southpaws this season. Plus, there won’t be any draft compensation to contend with.

    But where exactly he falls, and whether he gets a fourth year or instead takes a higher AAV over three, will depend upon market forces. J.D. Martinez and Justin Upton (if he opts out) would be the two top corner outfielders, but both are righty bats that would require very significant contracts. Granderson and Melky Cabrera will present alternatives for teams seeking lefty pop, but neither has quite Bruce’s present power and both are much older. All things considered, Bruce should be fairly well positioned.

    I’m wondering if the Giants’ plan to re-tool, rather than rebuild, has a reasonable chance of success. Does SF have only two or three spots, like one outfielder and two pitchers, that will make the difference in being competitive? Or will the re-tooling need to involve more spots on the roster, like two outfielders, maybe an infielder (third base), and three or four pitchers? And are there players available in free-agency for them to do that? — Tim D.

    Let’s start with the presumption that Johnny Cueto opts into the remainder of his deal. That would fill one of the rotation slots but also keeps a lot of cash on the books — over $150MM total already for 2018, with more than $100MM promised in each of the next two seasons. And the club will also have to consider what it’ll cost to keep Madison Bumgarner around past 2019.

    Looking over the roster — see the current depth chart here — the Giants will face questions in a variety of areas. Third base is unresolved, the team needs at least one starting outfielder (a center-field-capable player would perhaps be preferred, bumping Denard Span to left), and several bench/platoon roles are open to question. The team will likely at least look into adding a starter, though it could choose instead to go with Matt Moore along with Ty Blach or another less-established pitcher to line up behind Cueto, Bumgarner, and Jeff Samardzija. Bullpens can always be improved, though the Giants can hope for a bounceback from Mark Melancon and continued performance from reclamation hit Sam Dyson in the late innings.

    On the whole, then, perhaps a more dramatic roster overhaul isn’t really needed. Assuming the club is willing to spend up to, but not past, the $180MM-ish payroll it carried entering the current season, that leaves some room to add. But the long-term commitments and 2017 downturns certainly also speak in favor of exercising some caution. I’d expect a focus on striking shorter-term deals with veterans.

    Possibilities at third could include Pablo Sandoval, Todd Frazier, and Yunel Escobar, or the Giants could go bigger and chase the still-youthful Mike Moustakas. In the outfield, Lorenzo Cain would be the top center-field target, though he’ll be entering his age-32 season and won’t be cheap. There are some interesting alternatives, including Carlos Gomez, Jon Jay, and Jarrod Dyson. It’s also possible the Giants could chase Bruce or another corner piece while adding a player like Austin Jackson to platoon with Span in center. And as ever, there are lots of different pitchers available at different price points should they look to add there.

    Ultimately, there ought to be decent value available in the price range the Giants will be shopping. Whether that’ll work out or not … well, that’s dependent upon quite a few other factors and is tough to predict at this point.

    Which young, controllable starters (like Chris Archer, for example) will potentially be available via trade this upcoming offseason? –Matt H.

    Archer is certainly a good example of a guy who could be available and who’ll be asked about quite a lot. Depending upon how things end up for the Rays this year — currently, it’s not trending in the right direction — they may be more or less inclined to undertake a more dramatic move such as dealing the staff ace.

    Generally, though, I’d expect the pickings to be slim. Several teams that sit in the bottom of the standings and have young arms don’t seem likely to move them. For instance, I don’t really expect the Mets (Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, etc.), Blue Jays (Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez), or Phillies (Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez) to be looking to deal young starters.

    There are a few other names to watch, though. Michael Fulmer of the Tigers would figure to draw some of the most fervent interest, and Detroit has to be thinking creatively entering an offseason full of questions. The Pirates could decide that now’s the time to move Gerrit Cole, though he’ll only have two years of control remaining so may not really meet the parameters. Julio Teheran of the Braves will surely again be a topic of speculation, at least, and the Marlins will have to consider cashing in Dan Straily.