If Trout-less Angels decide to sell, here's the five players they could trade away
From Bud Norris to Matt Shoemaker, the Angels have some viable pieces to offer
Earlier this week, we learned Mike Trout could miss up to two months as he recovers from a torn thumb ligament. The news stinks for everyone who enjoys watching Trout play baseball, but especially for Trout and his team, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who entered play on Wednesday 27-28 and 2.5 games back in the Wild Card race.
Without Trout, the Angels do not appear to have a legitimate chance at remaining in contention. That's no great insult to manager Mike Scioscia or his bunch -- indeed, losing the best player in baseball would qualify as more than a flesh wound to any team. The reality, though, is the Angels were constructed in such a bit-player-heavy manner that they were hostages to Trout's wellbeing.
As such, it's fair to assert the Angels could turn into sellers by the trade deadline. Who, then, might they move? Let's take a look at five realistic targets. The players are ranked by likelihood of getting dealt, beginning with the player who seems most likely to be on the move.
Here's a weird thought: Bud Norris, the 32-year-old whose career ERA was 4.51 when he inked a minor-league contract in January, could be the Angels' All-Star Game representative. He entered Wednesday with some impressive marks, including a 2.92 ERA and a 3.20 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Credit Norris for altering his pitch selection in his first full season out of the bullpen -- he's leaning more on his cutter and slider than his plain ol' fastball. That decision seems to be paying dividends, given he's missing more bats than before (his contact rate has dipped from 77 percent to 69 percent, per Baseball-Reference.com). Norris probably won't continue to pitch this well, but could find himself of interest to contenders as a setup man.
Another 30-something-year-old wanderer who last winter joined the Angels to little fanfare. Yes, Cameron Maybin is part of the Angels' plan to replace Trout. But because he's prone to injury, and because he's nearing free agency, the Angels would be wise to move him in the coming weeks to an inquiring contender. Perhaps the most interesting part of Maybin's game these days is his transformed approach at the plate. He's swinging less often and commanding the zone better; hence a 16 percent walk rate that is almost certainly unsustainable, yet impressive all the same. Factor in Maybin's stolen-base ability, and he could serve as some team's leadoff hitter.
A National League fixture prior to joining the Angels in February on a minor-league deal, Yusmeiro Petit remains a multi-inning reliever. He's averaging five outs per outing, and has recorded more than three outs in 13 of his 19 appearances. That Petit is striking out more than 10 batters per nine while soaking up innings is perhaps even more impressive. With teams aspiring to find new, more efficient ways to use their bullpens -- particularly in the playoffs -- it's worth noting Petit has already shown he can be an asset in October: back in 2014, he made a three-inning relief appearance for the San Francisco Giants in each the NLDS, NLCS, and World Series.
Yet another unheralded bullpen find. Blake Parker was selected off waivers four times between last August and December, including twice by the Angels. He stuck the second time, and has since ensured he won't be hitting the wire again anytime soon by striking out 38 batters in 23 innings. (PS: He hasn't allowed a home run yet.) Parker stairsteps using a rising mid-90s fastball and a splitter. The Angels have less incentive to trade him than they do with the other listed relievers because of his contractual status (he's under team control through the 2020 season), but he's already 32 years old and he was acquired for a song. Even if Parker continues to pitch at a high level, the Angels would be justified in cashing in on found money.
We know, we know. Matt Shoemaker is unlikely to be traded because the Angels have every reason to keep their long-term assets in an effort to win during Trout's prime. Still, think about it. Shoemaker is an experienced mid-rotation starter who is under team control through the 2020 season. But he's also turning 31 soon, and it's possible -- perhaps likely -- that trading him at the deadline for a few prospects would be a better long-term play for the Angels than keeping him around. Pitchers are risky business, and nonelite pitchers on the wrong side of 30 are especially so. That doesn't mean the Angels will trade Shoemaker -- just that they should think about it.
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