Thursday, November 27, 2014


David Saltzer, AngelsWin.com Senior Writer - 

Given the choice, I’m a “glass half full” kind of guy. I’d rather focus on the positives that make life enjoyable than dwell on the negatives. That’s one of the reasons why I love Thanksgiving: it’s a chance to sit back, relax, reflect on all the good things that have happened in the year, and share with friends and family.

As Angels fans, we have a lot for which we should be thankful. We have Mike Trout locked up for the prime of his career, and he’s already at work getting ready for next season.

We have the best record from the 2014 season, and we made the playoffs. We don’t have to do major remodels to the lineup to be in line for another great year in 2015.

We have a great General Manager, one who works tirelessly to improve the team, all for our enjoyment. 

We have a great organization with a committed owner, one who is willing to pay for and field a contending team every year. 

We live in the greatest country on Earth—one that I wouldn’t trade for any other. 

We have abundance, so that we can all eat turkey, corn, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, pumpkin and apple pies until we are full, all while watching football.

We have a great community of friends and family at AngelsWin.com, created by Chuck Richter, where we can all gather, joke, debate, and share with our friends. What started out as a common bond between us has grown into so much more.

Happy Thanksgiving AngelsWin.com
By Robert Cunningham, AngelsWin.com Columnist - 

In this third part of our ongoing series, we focus on the starting outfield and DH spots. In Part IV we will take a look at the starting rotation. The Steamer projections below are for 600 PA’s, so please adjust accordingly for part-time players.


Left Field

2015 Steamer Projections

AVG
OBP
SLG
wRC+
WAR
Josh Hamilton
0.247
0.311
0.415
108
1.9
Collin Cowgill
0.233
0.296
0.340
86
0.6
Alfredo Marte
0.237
0.293
0.373
83
(0.6)
Efren Navarro
0.253
0.315
0.347
93
(0.1)

It seems pretty clear that the Angels left field option is a lock for the most part.

Hamilton’s salary begins to seriously escalate starting in 2015 ($25MM) and tops out at $32MM for both 2016 and 2017! Yikes!

Based on his lackluster performance for his first two seasons this is very disconcerting moving forward. Hamilton, oddly enough, torched LHP last season (.330/.367/.516/.884) but a lot of that can be explained by a massively inflated .464 BABIP. He only had a .695 OPS versus RHP.

Certainly the Angels can’t help but be concerned. This is not what they paid for and if he continues to degrade like this he will be virtually untradeable.

There is always an outside possibility that Jerry finds a taker for Hamilton even if we end up eating a large portion of his total contract. This would certainly be a way to cut payroll next season.

If the Angels were willing to eat $15MM-20MM out of each of his three remaining contract years I am sure they would find a few takers. This would almost certainly be too much for Arte Moreno to stomach though.

Of course all of this is predicated on the idea that Josh would waive his no-trade clause, which might be problematic.

To be clear Hamilton still has some trade value and perhaps even a touch of upside from his 2014 numbers. Arte has already paid that money, it’s sunk.

If it is determined that Josh cannot or will not return to a higher level of performance there are certainly equivalent or better options, already on the 40-man roster, that could replace him and supply a roughly similar output level.

Jerry Dipoto will really have no choice but to keep Hamilton around for 2015 with the hope that Josh turns around his stark decline and has a sustainable season. If that happens it would not be surprising to see Dipoto trade him at that point even if it still means eating a lot of salary.

Nothing would please the team and Angels fans more than to see a robust Josh Hamilton in the batter’s box. Unfortunately he is on the wrong side of 30 and everything points to a sharp decline on both sides of the ball.

Educated Guess: Josh Hamilton will be our left fielder next year barring a miracle move by Dipoto. Collin Cowgill will be the primary back up and platoon option. Navarro is also an option for LF as well in case of injury. Also recent OF waiver acquisitions Alfredo Marte and Roger Kieschnick could provide corner OF depth.

Center Field

2015 Steamer Projections

AVG
OBP
SLG
wRC+
WAR
Mike Trout
0.297
0.393
0.537
167
7.7
Collin Cowgill
0.233
0.296
0.340
86
0.6
Josh Hamilton
0.247
0.311
0.415
108
1.9

The Angels have the premier, marquee player in the game for the next 6 years. Mike Trout gives the Halos a fantastic building block that no other team can come close to matching in terms of overall production. That advantage needs to be maximized by continuing to build a real contending team around him.

Educated Guess: Double duh, Mike Trout. Cowgill would be the primary back up option. Hamilton can also play CF in a pinch and the Angels could also call up Tony Campana, or Dan Robertson, if needed, in case of injury.

The Angels have the best player in all of baseball, who happens to play center field, through the 2020 season. Enjoy him for however long he ends up being here!

Right Field

2015 Steamer Projections

AVG
OBP
SLG
wRC+
WAR
Kole Calhoun
0.264
0.324
0.428
118
2.9
Collin Cowgill
0.233
0.296
0.340
86
0.6

A very pleasant surprise this year, Kole Calhoun looks to be cemented in RF for the next several seasons.

Kole is controllable for the next 5 years and will become arbitration eligible after the 2016 season! This makes Calhoun a solid asset for the Angels.

Because Kole has been such a dynamic leadoff hitter this year it may be in the team’s best interest to offer him a contract extension that would buy out his arbitration years and perhaps one or two of his free agency years.

A 5-year/$30MM contract with a couple of option years attached for say $15MM a piece (7-year/$60MM total if all options are exercised) would certainly have some appeal to Calhoun for his financial future.

In 6-7 years, $15MM per year for the final 2 seasons will probably be a bargain assuming Kole is able to stay healthy and productive in his age 32 and 33 seasons.

Educated Guess: Calhoun should be a mainstay in RF and at the top of the lineup for the foreseeable future. It would not surprise me to see him sign an extension either this year or next year to secure his services long-term and control his arbitration price.

Behind Calhoun, on the depth chart, you will find Collin Cowgill as a capable platoon partner in the fourth OF role. Beyond that Hamilton could move over to RF in a pinch and Campana can play all of the OF positions in case of injury.

Also recent waiver acquisitions Alfredo Marte and Roger Kieschnick could provide corner OF depth.

Designated Hitter

2015 Steamer Projections

AVG
OBP
SLG
wRC+
WAR
C.J. Cron
0.255
0.296
0.412
103
0.6
Albert Pujols
0.269
0.330
0.466
127
3.0
Grant Green
0.266
0.306
0.381
99
1.6

Although not a true position on the field of play it definitely deserves discussion.

The Angels have a true designated hitter type in C.J. Cron and, barring any trade, he will most likely be our primary DH in 2015.

In the current low offense environment Cron certainly has trade value. However C.J. hasn’t had as many opportunities to show that power yet so his trade value might not be as high as it could be at this moment in time. It may be best to give him a full season at DH to showcase his potential before entertaining trade discussions.

C.J. hits both LHP and RHP reasonably well and certainly has some serious power in his bat. In fact he has a similar profile to Mark Trumbo: Both are power hitters with below average on-base ability. To be fair, between the two, Cron has a bit better on-base skills but with a touch less power.

Carrying Cron on the roster would also give the Angels a power bat off the bench in the late innings of a game if he doesn’t start that day. He is young and controllable for the next 4 seasons giving the Angels a solid option.

Of course the Angels will continue to rotate Albert Pujols and, occasionally, Josh Hamilton through the DH spot on a fairly regular basis to reduce wear and tear on his body but Cron should be the go-to guy in 2015.

Educated Guess: Again, barring an unforeseen trade, Cron should be the primary DH option for 2015 and possibly beyond. Cron should see a lot of at-bats especially against LHP and in late inning pinch hitting situations.


In case of injury Grant Green appears to be the most likely depth option although recent waiver wire acquisitions Alfredo Marte and Roger Kieschnick could help replace some of Cron’s power.

Sunday, November 23, 2014


By Robert Cunningham, AngelsWin.com Columnist - 

If you were to create a perfect position player what would he look like?

Ideally the player would be someone who can hit both LHP and RHP equally well with a high wRC+, plays excellent defense, has sharp athletic instincts, and can steal bases at an efficient rate.

Unfortunately there is only one Mike Trout.

Finding a good position player continues on a downward slide after Trout. The next best thing might be a switch hitter who can make good defensive plays or it might be a left-handed batter who can hit RHP well but isn’t quite as good against lefties but has one or more of the other desirables.

Considering that a majority of the pitchers in MLB are right-handed (70%-75%) it makes sense that teams would be more inclined towards drafting, trading for, or signing free agent switch, or left-handed, hitters.

This is especially true at the high-value defensive positions such as C, SS, 3B, and 2B where having a left-handed hitting, right-handed throwing player is a slight, incremental advantage (positional bias).

In fact, generally, a smart GM would a) try to acquire hitters that can hit both LHP and RHP, b) in lieu of (a) try to construct a roster that has more left-handed hitters than it does right-handed ones and c) find versatile right-handed hitting utility players to spell (b) players when facing LHP. Of course if they happen to be exceptional defenders that is truly an added bonus.

In fact it is no surprise that some of the Angels hitters have minimal platoon splits versus LHP and RHP such as Pujols, Trout, Aybar, and Kendrick.

Additionally it is no coincidence that we acquired or brought up additional left-handed bats over the last couple of years such as Calhoun, Conger, and Hamilton with the intent to incrementally improve the team. Even some of our in-season call up’s were left-handed hitters such as Navarro and Boesch.

Also, let’s not forget that many of our bench players in 2014 were right-handed utility types that can hit LHP such as Cowgill, Cron, McDonald, and Green.

Remember just like football, baseball is a game of inches as well. Even small incremental improvements can have a larger effect over a 162-game season.

Let’s take a look at each position and discuss the possibilities for the 2015 season. In this part, we will focus only on the starting infield players. In Part III we will focus on the outfield and DH spots. The Steamer projections are for 600 PA’s (or 450 for catchers) so please adjust accordingly for part-time players.

Catcher

Author’s Note: The Hank Conger trade caught me off-guard. It really seemed that the Angels would retain and even extend Conger based on his excellent pitch framing skills. However the trade did bring back Nick Tropeano so the Angels did exchange a good backup catcher for a good back-of-the-rotation pitcher, who might turn out to be a lot more. Tropeano’s name was part of a longer list of AA/AAA pitchers that I thought Dipoto would have interest in and so it has, surprisingly, come to pass in a rare inter-divisional trade.

2015 Steamer Projections

AVG
OBP
SLG
wRC+
WAR
Chris Iannetta
0.223
0.338
0.357
106
2.7
Carlos Perez
0.232
0.286
0.330
75
1.1
Jackson Williams
0.211
0.272
0.306
68
0.7

Chris Iannetta is not good at pitch framing. However the rest of his defensive game is consistently above average (according to the questionable accuracy of the defensive metrics) and perhaps more importantly his experienced batting eye (high OBP) and plate discipline contributed to an excellent 2014 season in the batter’s box.

Iannetta has one more year remaining on his original 3-year contract, which he signed prior to the 2013 season, at a very reasonable $5.525MM for 2015.

Carlos Perez, the second part of the Hank Conger trade, is a defensive-minded, game-caller whose bat can potentially become a bit above average if things break right. He has patience at the plate and quick hands, which essentially could make him a Chris Iannetta “mini-me” as his career develops. Perez has a solid arm with a career Minor League caught stealing rate of 33%.

Acquiring Perez, who has a fairly minimal platoon split in the Minors from 2011-2013, allows the Angels to minimize any possible production lost in the Conger move.

Both of these catchers have value for the team. Now that the Angels have traded Conger instead of Iannetta, it is clear that the Halos are leaning in the direction of the more experienced veteran.

It would be an additional surprise at this point if Iannetta was traded. However there certainly appears to be a market for veteran catchers so you never know if Jerry will try to extract the added value that the remaining member of his 2014 catching corps has at this time.

It is possible that the Angels could offer Chris an extension for, say, another 2 years for $10MM-15MM, could simply start him and try to ride him into the post season, or even trade him away at the deadline if the Angels are out of contention.

If Jerry needs to cut payroll in order to sign a free agent, issue an extension contract, or make room for a higher priced trade acquisition Iannetta might be moved to make that happen. Chris definitely has value and could bring back a quality prospect or 2-3 lesser prospects.

There are other replacement candidates out there such as veteran Rene Rivera (Padres) or prospect Ryan Lavarnway (Red Sox) that could be obtained to replace Chris if the Angels choose to go that route. At this point that seems unlikely.

Educated Guess: Now that Hank is gone, Chris Iannetta is in the driver’s seat for 2015. Carlos Perez appears to be Hank’s successor in the backup role.

The recently waiver-claimed Jackson Williams, rated the Pacific Coast League’s Best Defensive Catcher in 2010, could also be the guy who will replace Conger. Jackson slashed .383/.479/.533 against LHP in 2014, albeit on an inflated .478 BABIP in the PCL.

Jett Bandy, Charlie Cutler, and Zach Zaneski are upper Minors depth options (John Hester elected free agency).

First Base

2015 Steamer Projections

AVG
OBP
SLG
wRC+
WAR
Albert Pujols
0.269
0.330
0.466
127
3.0
C.J. Cron
0.255
0.296
0.412
103
0.6
Efren Navarro
0.253
0.315
0.347
93
(0.1)


Not much to talk about here. Albert Pujols will be fairly-well entrenched at the position for at least the next 3 years. Once Hamilton’s contract expires (or he is potentially traded at some point) you would expect Pujols to DH a lot more.

Additionally, it is very likely that the team will continue to carry Efren Navarro on the 40-man roster as insurance against a Pujols injury.

Although his bat isn’t even in the same realm as Albert’s, Efren is a gold-glove caliber first baseman and can capably hit RHP and can play left field when needed. He would add value at an inexpensive price (league minimum in 2015 and 2016). It should be noted that the Steamer projection heavily penalized his defense resulting in the negative WAR estimate.

Finally, unless he is traded, C.J. Cron will likely be on the 25-man roster to start the season and he too could play first base when he is not hitting out of the DH spot. Cron has prodigious power which can help the Angels this year or could be used as a trade chip in an offensively-starved player market.

First base is not an area of concern for 2015. Unless the Angels use C.J. to pull off a trade for a young controllable third baseman or pitching prospect Cron will play a prominent role in the offense, mainly at DH.

Educated Guess: Duh, Pujols. Cron will primarily DH and occasionally spell Pujols at first. Navarro will be a primary depth option at Salt Lake (AAA). Calhoun or Green could play first base in a pinch.

Second Base

2015 Steamer Projections

AVG
OBP
SLG
wRC+
WAR
Howie Kendrick
0.280
0.328
0.401
110
3.2
Grant Green
0.266
0.306
0.381
99
1.6
Shawn O'Malley
0.242
0.303
0.324
84
0.1
Gordon Beckham
0.238
0.288
0.346
84
0.7

The Angels 2B situation will be a real source of discussion this off-season for the team and their fans.

Howie is entering the last year of his contract extension he signed three years ago and is owed $9.5MM for 2015, which is a bargain for a player of his caliber.

In addition Kendrick had a very successful 2014 campaign increasing his value in the off-season trade market.

To top it off he would likely be a candidate for a Qualifying Offer (QO) which could add a compensatory draft pick if he were to refuse it at the end of the 2015 season. This would increase his current value before the new season begins.

Howie is on the wrong side of 30 (he’s 31 years old and will be 32 before the All-Star Break) but to his credit he stays in shape and keeps an excellent work ethic. If any player were to age gracefully and maintain a level of high performance he would certainly be a candidate in that regard.

This could play out a bunch of different ways depending on how the trade market shapes up in the coming weeks.

At this point it wouldn’t be surprising if the Angels traded him, signed him to an extension, or kept him and then offered him a QO after the 2015 season.

Also the QO presents its own issues.

The first is will Kendrick play well enough in 2015 to warrant a QO in the first place?

Second do the Angels want to risk him accepting an approximate $16MM QO for 2016?

Finally if Howie rejects the QO and hits free agency do the Angels want to walk the high wire of trying to leverage him into re-signing with the team at a slightly reduced market rate?

The front office decision on whether or not to trade Howie will come down to what they project he will contribute in 2015 versus what his replacement(s) would produce.

Jerry Dipoto certainly seems to be preparing for such action. The acquisition of Gordon Beckham adds to a list of second base candidates that also include Grant Green, Shawn O’Malley, and Alex Yarbrough.

Gordon Beckham would cost about $4MM less than Howie and is good defensively although his bat is very questionable.

Grant Green would certainly be capable of playing second base from an offensive standpoint but it really looks like Grant is being groomed for a super-utility role based on his playing time with the Salt Lake Bees (Scroll to Fielding at bottom).

The Angels recently traded Taylor Lindsey which really screams that they see Alex Yarbrough as a potential future second baseman in Anaheim (or Tustin or wherever the team ends up). Alex is a switch-hitter but he has hit RHP much better in his Minor League career than he has LHP (.770 vs .692 OPS).

Yarbrough has a good line drive approach and is mainly a singles and doubles type of hitter, although this author did personally witness him knock 2 home runs out of Dickey-Stephens Park during an Arkansas Traveler’s (AA) game back in May (not an easy feat to do) so his power may develop last as it does with many prospects.

Finally there are two interesting options that should become available later in the off-season: Cuban second basemen Jose Fernandez and Hector Olivera. Both Fernandez and Olivera are highly rated keystone players in their home country and both have different, but great, offensive profiles.

Jose, who is only 26, is renowned in Cuba for his on-base skills and level swing from the left side of the plate. Due to his age the Angels could offer a long-term contract of 7-8 years at $10MM-$13MM per year.

Hector, who has a touch more power and hits from the right side, is approaching age 30 so expectations should be tempered but a 5-year/$50MM-$65MM contract might be achievable for the Angels.

Either one of those players could speculatively find a home in the front part of the Angels batting order. Fernandez seems like a better fit as he could become the new lead-off hitter and bump the entire lineup back a step. Alternatively Olivera could hit in the 2-spot and bump Trout to the 3-spot or even have Hector hit in the 5-spot.

There are two other Cuban 2B, Andy Ibanez and Yoan Moncada, who should be available soon but they are subject to International Draft Pools and are not quite ready for the Majors, making them long-term, future prospect pickups, at best, for the Halos.

Spring Training will surely see a lively competition between the veteran Beckham (if he is tendered a contract which looks unlikely), Green, Yarbrough, and O’Malley for a shot at being the new Angels second baseman if Howie is, indeed, traded and no other 2B is acquired by the team.

The good news here is that if either of the Cuban players is delayed in obtaining their legal status in the United States before the season starts, the Angels could easily deploy Green or Yarbrough at 2B to start the year until Fernandez and Olivera become available if that is the team’s goal.

This decision will be difficult for Jerry Dipoto. The facts are:

1) Kendrick’s trade value will never be higher than it is now
a. If Howie is traded in-season, he will not be eligible for a QO and the associated compensatory draft pick return it could bring
b. If the Angels keep Kendrick they will have to take the risk that he might accept a QO, if the Angels make it, for what will be approximately $16MM for the 2016 season. This would be a difficult payroll decision for 2016 and could result in the Angels NOT making a QO (and lose the compensatory draft pick anyway)
2) The pool of available trade partners is at its maximum before the 2015 season begins
a. Despite all 30 clubs being available as trade partners, most of them will not trade for Kendrick unless they can extend him or have a need to upgrade at 2B and feel they will be in contention in 2015
b. The possible return in value, at the trade deadline in-season, is problematic because it relies on there being a demand by contending teams for an upgrade at 2B which may or may not exist
3) If the Angels do trade Howie his production will be difficult to replace in 2015
4) Team payroll is an issue and moving Kendrick’s salary would make an impact in reducing it

Of course, the priority is to win, particularly in light of the fact that Dipoto only had one option year (2015) picked up by owner Arte Moreno, so retaining Howie to start the season is very plausible and would likely be the most productive option at 2B for the team in 2015.

However, Howie does have considerable value if you believe his Steamer projection above. The 3.2 WAR is certainly a viable estimate considering Kendrick produced 4.6 WAR in 2014.

Even if you take a more conservative estimate of 2.7 WAR, Howie still has enough value in his remaining contract year to pull a top prospect in trade.

No matter what happens the Angels have a lot of flexibility and options at second base (which is why Lindsey was expendable).

If you look around the Majors and Minors there are really no viable second basemen available that could provide the production that Howie can.

In fact the drop off is fairly substantial between Kendrick and any readily available options. While there are certainly teams who could use the upgrade at 2B, there aren’t that many teams who are desperate for one.

The reality is that most teams don’t have the 2B options the Angels do and can’t wait for Fernandez or Olivera’s legal status to be approved before starting the season without a viable keystone player in place.

Before the Tropeano acquisition, Kendrick looked like the most likely trade chip that could bring back a young, cost-controlled, high quality pitching prospect. Now that the Angels have picked up Nick, it appears that moving Kendrick is an option and luxury rather than a requirement.

In fact now that the Angels have Tropeano in the fold, Dipoto can focus on trading Howie for an equally valuable player at a different position.

For instance the Angels could trade Kendrick for the Nationals Jordan Zimmermann and still maintain an equitable production level. A different route could be to trade Howie for OF Steven Souza (Steamer projection of 2.2 WAR), move Hamilton to DH and trade Cron for a pitching prospect.

The point is that there are many options and variations that could come out of a Kendrick trade while maintaining overall team production.

Certainly trading Howie could cut payroll but if he is retained, Jerry could make cuts in other areas by non-tendering Beckham and/or trading David Freese or perhaps Kevin Jepsen. The drop off in production, if at all, from Freese or Jepsen to a replacement isn’t nearly as steep as it is with Kendrick.

Educated Guess: Unless the Angels feel they will not be able to adequately fill their 2B need or that the loss of overall team production is too great, Kendrick will be traded. I am sure that Jerry is a responsible and ethical General Manager but if he is worried in any way about his job security he will only move Howie in trade for equitable production. Otherwise Kendrick stays in Anaheim.

Shortstop

2015 Steamer Projections

AVG
OBP
SLG
wRC+
WAR
Erick Aybar
0.271
0.312
0.378
99
2.9
Shawn O'Malley
0.242
0.303
0.324
84
0.1


This one is likely a no-brainer too. Erick Aybar has 2 years left on his extension that he signed before the 2012 season. Aybar is only owed $17MM for the remaining life on his contract making him an attractive, affordable option for an impact shortstop.

We spoke, above, about the real possibility that Kendrick might be dealt in the off-season. It seems doubtful that Dipoto would trade Aybar, also, because that would likely disrupt the roster too much. However the Angels front office may find that Erick draws a lot of trade interest and may move him instead.

The only major problem with trading Aybar is that we have no legitimate shortstop prospect that is capable of replacing him. Stamets has the potential to be a real defensive wizard akin to players like Andrelton Simmons, Alcides Escobar, and J.J. Hardy but Stamets bat is still raw and another year in either AA or AAA would certainly go a long way towards developing his offensive profile.

Beyond Stamets we did have Rondon but he was traded to the Padres for Huston Street. The only remaining internal candidate is Shawn O’Malley who showed impressive plate discipline in the Pacific Coast League at Salt Lake this year.

Also the Angels just signed 20 year old Cuban middle infield prospect Roberto Baldoquin for a reported $8MM signing bonus. Baldoquin could potentially play in the middle infield, the hot corner, or even the outfield. However he, too, probably needs some time in the Minors to polish his skills before stepping into the Majors.

Unless Dipoto pulls off a surprise trade it seems very likely that Aybar will stay at SS in 2015. For the team this seems to be the best solution.

Educated Guess: Erick Aybar will be our 2015 shortstop to start the season. If the Angels perform poorly, there is a real possibility he gets traded at the deadline or in the 2015-2016 off-season. Depth options in the Minors are Shawn O’Malley, Eric Stamets, and Roberto Baldoquin.

Third Base

2015 Steamer Projections

AVG
OBP
SLG
wRC+
WAR
David Freese
0.260
0.328
0.388
109
2.0
Grant Green
0.266
0.306
0.381
99
1.6
Gordon Beckham
0.238
0.288
0.346
84
0.7


Third base will be another interesting decision point for the Angels this off-season.

David Freese will be entering the final year of his arbitration control and will become a free agent after 2015. His arbitration price will likely run up as high as the $7MM range for next season. MLBTradeRumors estimates his 2015 salary to be $6.3MM (which is probably accurate).

For the entire 2014 season Freese had a slash line of .260/.321/.383/.704. Against LHP he had an .876 OPS but against RHP he had a .656 OPS. Because he is on the wrong side of the platoon split that is quite a bit of money to pay for what should be a platoon player.

However in the last 28 days of the season Freese did pick up the pace. His slash line during that time was .315/.367/.562/.929!

The Angels will need to decide who the real David Freese is and act accordingly with their off-season plans because the Angels have no clear successor or prospects for the third base position beyond Grant Green and the newly acquired Roberto Baldoquin.

Because the Angels appear to be focused on Green being a super-utility player it would seem more logical that Jerry Dipoto would rather acquire a left-handed hitting third baseman. This would allow Green to regularly substitute in at 3B, 2B, and occasionally at SS, against LHP, as needed.

Beyond those two, there are some interesting young left-handed hitting 3B prospects that include Garin Cecchini (Red Sox), Brock Holt (Red Sox), Jake Lamb (Diamondbacks) and Kyle Kubitza (Braves) that are possibly available in trade. Additionally there are multiple third basemen that will be available in free agency including switch hitters Pablo Sandoval and Chase Headley.

Kaleb Cowart has floundered offensively playing for the Arkansas Travelers and the Solar Sox this year. Although the Angels would love for him to be the answer at third base long-term it is appearing less and less likely that Cowart will reach his potential in the timeframe that the Angels will have a need and opening for him. Kaleb may have to convert back to a reliever soon to extend his career.

The Angels could look to pick up a short-term option like Kelly Johnson on a 2-year contract with an option year attached to try and bridge the 3B gap to a prospect like Sherman Johnson, Cal Towey, Kaleb Cowart or Roberto Baldoquin. This might be an alternative path to acquiring a left-handed hitting 3B prospect.

Finally it is possible that the Angels could trade Freese and insert Gordon Beckham at 3B. This would not be an ideal choice in my opinion but it could be a temporary measure for this season.

Whatever happens, it certainly would seem to be in the team’s best interest to find a permanent long-term solution at the hot corner.

Educated Guess: Now that the Angels have acquired Tropeano, David Freese, and his estimated $6.3MM salary, is much more likely to be traded.

To be clear Freese does have positive trade value. However that value is only likely to pull a low to mid-level prospect or possibly a Major League reliever.

The Angels could try to make a trade centered on David Freese, plus other assets, for a 3B like Jake Lamb. The Diamondbacks have Brandon Drury in the wings and they could use Freese for one season at 3B or even trade him at the deadline.

In the end it is my feeling David will be traded and the Angels will sign Kelly Johnson to man the hot corner. It would be a surprise if we picked up a bigger 3B free agent and it doesn’t seem like we have quite enough trade chips, that we are willing to part with, to pull a young prospect like Lamb.

In Part III we will continue with the outfield and DH discussion.

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