It is never too early to start talking about the trade deadline, especially when we can talk about would-be contenders that might unexpectedly end up being sellers rather than buyers at the deadline. Over the next few weeks, we'll be taking a look at many of these such teams, and there is a surprisingly large amount, and what exactly they might be looking to sell if they don't turn around their season in a hurry.
Everyone keeps insisting that the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will eventually snap out of their funk and get back into the playoff race, but we are now in mid-May and the Halos keep losing while Albert Pujols keeps not hitting. Brand new GM Jerry Dipoto was the league's biggest buyer in the off-season, but if things don't turn around soon, he could well end up being the league's biggest seller.
So what can the Halos offer to the rest of the league?
Big Chips: Ervin Santana, Peter Bourjos
If there is one thing the Angels have, it is too much good starting pitching. The Halos can afford to move one of their starters and still have enough leftover to try and contend again next season. Ervin Santana, who has a team option for 2013, is the most expendable starter who would still fetch a hefty return. However, it is possible that someone could knock Jerry Dipoto's socks off with an offer for Dan Haren. After all, Dipoto was the one that traded Haren to the Angels back when he was the interim general manager in Arizona.
The internet has been trying to trade Peter Bourjos almost since the day he arrived in the majors. The Angel front office insists that they aren't shopping him, but they've also been careful to point out that they don't consider him untouchable. Considering Bourjos' woeful offense thus far this season, they'd be selling low, but given his potential and that he isn't arbitration eligible until 2014, they could easily demand a grade A prospect in return for Bourjos. Elite defensive center fielder just don't grow on trees.
Money Moves: Vernon Wells
Wells has the worst contract in all of baseball, but you can bet your ass that the Halos will do almost whatever deal they need to if it means getting out from under the $42 million he is owed the next two seasons. However, it remains to be seen if GM Jerry Dipoto can even mention Wells' name in a trade conversation without the GM on the other end hanging up and/or bursting into uncontrollable laughter.
Solid Pieces: Torii Hunter, Maicer Izturis, Chris Iannetta
Hunter may not be the player he used to be, but he's still got some life left in his legs and a little pop left in his bat. Factor in the years of experience and his positive influence on a clubhouse, and Hunter would make for a very nice pick-up for a lot of teams. Given his impending free agency and desire to play for champion, the Halos would surely be happy to oblige his quest for a ring by shipping him off to the contender of his choosing, especially if said contender eats the remainder of the $18.5 million he is owed this season.
For years, they've said that Maicer Izturis could be a starter on almost any team in the league. That is a theory he intends to test on the open market this winter, so the Angels are surely going to want to cash out on him while they can. He may not return much of a package for the Angels, but there isn't a contender out there that couldn't use Izturis as an upgrade at second, shortstop, third or as a back-up utility infielder, a role that he is more than happy to play.
With the rash of catcher injuries in the league, the Angels might find a pretty solid market for Chris Iannetta... once he gets healthy himself, that is. He's not without flaws, but he's a passable defender with pop in his bat and good control of the strike zone. The Halos may be loathe to move him since they only just acquired him this last winter, but they might be more loathe to let him walk away for nothing as a free agent after the season.
X-Factor: Mark Trumbo
Trumbo has made major strides in plate discipline and looks like a bona fide middle of the order bat now and not just an out machine with 30 home run power. By all rights, the Halos should be building around him, but they can't even find a defensive position for him to play, and they may not have one for him next season either. If things start looking particularly desperate in Anaheim, the Halos could move Trumbo for a bounty of upper-level prospects or perhaps package him with an albatross contract like that of Vernon Wells to entice some other team into granting the Angels some financial flexibility this off-season.
Warm Bodies: Alberto Callaspo, LaTroy Hawkins, Hisanori Takahashi
Callaspo is one of those players that is more useful than his stat line might suggest, but he also may not fit with a lot of teams since he's primarily a third baseman, but has almost no power. That being said, he is a possible non-tender candidate this winter, so the Angels shouldn't have any problem giving him up for a middling prospect.
LaTroy Hawkins is on the shelf right now with a broken finger, but he is still very effective and has more experience than any reliever on the trade market, literally. He is crazy old. Not Jamie Moyer old, but still really old.
Hisanori Takahashi. He's, umm, well, he's left-handed. That always counts for something.
But what they'll probably do is... be prideful. After dropping hundreds of millions of dollars on the free agent market, the Angels may be too proud to shift into seller mode, even if they completely go in the tank. At best, they'll unload Izturis or Callaspo and maybe a reliever, but even a tiny fire sale seems like a major stretch.
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