Angels should sell at trade deadline, but a full blown rebuild probably won't happen

Friday night the Angels were spared the indignity of being no-hit and were simply beaten by Dallas Keuchel and the Astros (HOU 3, LAA 1). Keuchel took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and finished the night with two hits and one run allowed in 7 2/3 innings. On Saturday, Justin Verlander and three relievers shut out the Halos, 7-0.

With the losses the Angels are now 49-50 and 16 games back in the AL West. They're 10 games back of the second AL wild-card spot and SportsLine puts their postseason odds at a mere 2.3 percent. Losing 22 of your last 34 games will do that. The Angels dropped right out of the postseason race this last month.

Given their place in the standings, it stands to reason the Angels will look to unload some veterans prior to the July 31 trade deadline. Is Mike Trout getting traded? Of course not. But impending free agents like Ian Kinsler, Martin Maldonado, Chris Young, and Luis Valbuena could generate interest around the league.

"They need to be sellers. Their season's done. I wanted Trout to get into the playoffs. I really thought that they had a chance, but they just haven't had consistent performance," said former Marlins team president David Samson on CBS Sports HQ.

Samson continued: "What I think the Angels need to do is to absolutely start moving some of their veterans, and start seeing if they can do anything to help Trout out over the next year or two."

The Angels are in a difficult position right now, and not only because they're 10 games back of a postseason spot. They are undoubtedly trying to win before Trout can qualify for free agency during the 2020-21 offseason. It's hard to believe the Halos have only played three postseason games (all losses) in the Mike Trout era. It's a shame for the Angels and a shame for baseball.

Of course the Halos want to win with Trout, so a total tear-down is not happening. They might take a step back and retool a bit, and cash in Kinsler and Maldonado as trade chips to build organizational depth, but they're not going to embark on an Astros-style rebuild. Not with Trout. Rebuilding a farm system is much easier than having the best player in the world in his prime on your roster.

MLB: Houston Astros at Los Angeles Angels
The Angels need to get Mike Trout some help before he becomes a free agent. USATSI

At the same time, they're stuck in the same division as the powerhouse Astros and the up-and-coming Athletics (and Mariners), so short-term contention won't be easy. Impossible? Nope. But not easy.

The Angels don't have to start from scratch, fortunately. They have some quality building blocks:

  • Mike Trout: The best player in the world.
  • Andrelton Simmons: A brilliant all-around player and the best defensive player in the game, regardless of position.
  • Shohei Ohtani: A 24-year-old who's hit like an All-Star and pitched like an ace early in his MLB career.
  • Andrew Heaney & Tyler Skaggs: Two young lefties with multiple years of control.

Pretty strong core right there. Could do worse. Add in a productive veteran like Justin Upton and you have the makings of a good lineup and a good rotation. The supporting cast needs a lot of help though. The Angels aren't going to miss the postseason this year because their best players are underperforming. It's because no one else is holding up their end of the bargain.

Unfortunately for the Halos, they lost their best impending free agent trade chip earlier this month, when Garrett Richards blew out his elbow and needed Tommy John surgery. He would've fetched a nice return had he stayed healthy. There are always contenders that need pitching. Others like Kinsler, Maldonado, and Young might bring back some OK prospects at the deadline, but that's about it.

Perhaps the Angels should consider trading Heaney and Skaggs. Both have had Tommy John surgery in the recent past, so they've already blown out once, and there's always a tremendous demand for young starters with years of control. The Yankees in particular stand out as a team that would offer some good young talent to get a guy like Skaggs or Heaney. Right now, it seems the Angels will hang on to them and gear up for a run next year.

The clock is very much ticking on the Halos. The goal is clear: Get to the postseason before Trout can leave as a free agent. He's the best player in baseball -- the best player in franchise history, really -- and the Angels don't want their peak with him to be getting swept in the 2014 ALDS.

They only have so many veterans to trade at the deadline. Selling feels like a must. That alone won't get the Angels into contention next season though. There's a lot of work to be done over the winter.

CBS Sports Writer

Mike Axisa joined CBS Sports in 2013. He has been a member of the BBWAA since 2015 and has previously written about both fantasy baseball and real life baseball for MLBTradeRumors.com, FanGraphs.com, RotoAuthority.com,... Full Bio

Our Latest Stories