As teams shaped splashy last-minute blockbusters around them Monday afternoon, the Angels made one minor trade: They sent veteran reliever David Hernandez to Arizona for minor league right-hander Luis Madero.
Angels general manager Billy Eppler said he engaged in substantive conversations about multiple players who would have remained with the team after this year. Those talks did not produce deals and the rental players the Angels had to trade away did not generate satisfactory offers to justify the cost to the current club.
“It did not make sense, from our vantage point, to have an estate sale,” Eppler said.
As support for his position, he cited the Angels’ array of injured players who could return before this season’s end: outfielders Cameron Maybin and Kole Calhoun, and starting pitchers Tyler Skaggs, Matt Shoemaker, Andrew Heaney and Garrett Richards.
“We can still see Maybin, Skaggs, Calhoun right down the block, and we know that Shoe, Heaney, Garrett, they still sound like they’re in our neighborhood,” Eppler said, using real estate metaphors. “We weren't trying to put everything on the front lawn."
Madero, 20, was not considered one of the Diamondbacks’ top prospects. In parts of four seasons, most recently at low Class A, he has pitched 233 innings and posted a career 4.13 earned-run average.
Carlos Gomez, the Angels’ international scouting director, saw a teenage Madero as an amateur in Venezuela.
Hernandez, 32, spent the bulk of his career in Arizona. Acquired from Atlanta’s triple-A affiliate for cash in April, he pitched better than ever for the Angels. He had a 2.23 ERA over 36 1/3 innings, with 37 strikeouts against eight walks. His career-long plague had been the home run, yet he has not given up one this season.
Petit, signed to a minor league contract in February, is second in the major leagues in relief innings with 56 2/3. He has a 2.52 ERA, which is a career best by more than a run.
Norris had twice in previous years been traded around the annual deadline, to Baltimore in 2013 and to the Dodgers last year. He was a starting pitcher then but is a reliever now. He ascended to the Angels’ closer role after earlier occupants suffered injuries.
For most of the year, he excelled. Within the last week, he surrendered two walk-off grand slams — half of all the walk-off slams hit across the sport this season.
His earned-run average rose to 3.89, and his walk rate to 4.5 per nine innings.
After Monday's deadline, MLB teams can only trade players who first clear waivers. That provision makes it unlikely low-cost options such as Petit and Norris will be traded, but the Angels could still try to move reliever Huston Street, if he returns from a groin injury soon and pitches well. He’s making $9 million this season.
The Angels (51-55) started Monday six games out of American League playoff position, a steep climb considering the number of teams in front of them. The Texas Rangers, who have the same .481 winning percentage, were sellers. They dispatched ace Yu Darvish to the Dodgers for three prospects.
Eppler and his staff saw their position differently.
“We feel we have plenty of games to make it interesting,” he said.
Right fielder Kole Calhoun is day-to-day with a small strain in his right hamstring. He will probably miss a couple days but is likely to avoid the disabled list. ... Infielder Nick Franklin, who was designated for assignment Saturday, cleared waivers and was outrighted to triple-A Salt Lake. … Tyler Skaggs, recovering from an oblique strain, started Monday for Salt Lake. Andrew Heaney, coming back from elbow ligament replacement surgery, is scheduled to start Tuesday. Skaggs is on track to start Saturday, which is when the Angels next need a fifth starter. They turned to Petit last time, limiting their bullpen in the surrounding days.
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