Angels trade Kevin Jepsen to Tampa Bay Rays for Matt Joyce

Angels send reliever Kevin Jepsen to Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for outfielder Matt Joyce

The Angels acquired Matt Joyce from the Tampa Bay Rays for veteran reliever Kevin Jepsen on Tuesday, a trade that gives them a primary designated hitter, a left-handed bat to balance a predominantly right-handed lineup, some corner outfield depth and a possible No. 2 hitter.

"What we get in Matt is a commodity, a guy who has proved he can do it in the big leagues," General Manager Jerry Dipoto said. "The ability to beat up right-handed pitching the way Matt has through his career really fit us well."

Joyce, 30, is a career .250 hitter with a .342 on-base percentage, .441 slugging percentage, 88 home runs and 313 runs batted in over seven seasons. He has been far more productive against right-handed pitchers (.261/.356/.463 slash line) than left-handers (.189/.258/.316).

Joyce has been an everyday corner outfielder for the Rays over the last two years, so he'll provide insurance if right fielder Kole Calhoun or left fielder Josh Hamilton is injured. But Joyce will get most of his starts at DH, where he could platoon with young slugger C.J. Cron.

"Obviously, this eats into CJ's projected playing time significantly," Dipoto said. "But C.J. has an opportunity to get some at-bats against left-handers, he can play first base, and he's also a flexible, optionable player. This move makes us a deeper, more balanced team."

Joyce is known for his plate discipline. He averaged one walk every 7.95 plate apperances last season, the ninth-best rate in the American League, and he set a Rays record with five walks in one game in April.

"My dad always told me that good hitters have to hit good pitches; it's hard to hit bad pitches good," Joyce said. "I do my homework, I prepare to the best of my abilities, I have a plan, and when I get into the box I try to execute that plan as best I can."

That kind of approach might fit nicely in the second spot behind Calhoun and allow Manager Mike Scioscia to move Mike Trout and Albert Pujols from the second and third spots to the third and fourth spots in the order.

Joyce is one year away from free agency and is projected to receive $5 million in arbitration next season. Jepsen, 30, is two years away from free agency and is due to get $2.6 million, so the trade will add to the Angels' payroll.

Jepsen, a second-round pick of the Angels in 2002, had his best season in 2014, when he was 0-2 with a 2.63 earned-run average in 74 games, striking out 75 and walking 23 in 65 innings.

Dipoto said right-handers Mike Morin, coming off a breakout rookie season, and Vinnie Pestano, Fernando Salas and Cory Rasmus would be candidates to fill Jepsen's seventh-inning role. The Angels also have two left-handers in the bullpen, Cesar Ramos and Hector Santiago.

"It was difficult for us to trade Jepsen coming off his best year," Dipoto said. "We felt like the bullpen was a strength. We're dealing from an area of depth to gain depth in a different area."


Alex Rodriguez will be strictly a DH for the New York Yankees, GM Brian Cashman said. ... Left-hander Chris Capuano and the Yankees agreed to a $5-million, one-year contract. ... First baseman Michael Morse and the Miami Marlins struck a $16-million deal for two years. ... Slugger Kendrys Morales and the Kansas City Royals finalized a $17-million, two-year deal. ... Right-hander Gavin Floyd and the Chicago White Sox agreed to a $4-million, one-year deal. ... Infielder Daniel Descalso and the Colorado Rockies agreed to a $3.6-million, two-year contract. ... Rays left-hander Jake McGee had arthroscopic surgery on his pitching elbow and will begin next season on the disabled list. ... Right-handed reliever Kyuji Fujikawa and the Texas Rangers completed the details of a $1-million, one-year deal.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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