The Angels appeared to further raise the white flag on the season, trading veteran second baseman Ian Kinsler and cash to the Boston Red Sox on Monday for triple-A relievers Williams Jerez and Ty Buttrey.
With last week’s trade of catcher Martin Maldonado to Houston, the Angels have dealt two impending free agents from an injury-ravaged 54-53 club that is 91/2 games behind Seattle for the second American League wild-card spot.
“My responsibility is to do what’s best for the organization and make mindful decisions that also put us in position to compete this year and in future years,” general manager Billy Eppler said.
“We have to weigh the remaining impact Kinsler can have, which is positive — no doubt, what he does on the field, in the clubhouse … there’s a reason people gravitate toward this guy — but we have to weigh that against the potential impact [of the two prospects] and the duration of that impact.”
Rookie David Fletcher will likely replace Kinsler as the everyday second baseman, with Luis Valbuena, Jefry Marte and Kaleb Cowart, who is expected to be called up from triple A, sharing third base duties.
The Red Sox have a major league-best 75-33 record but felt they’d be better positioned for a World Series run with a defensive upgrade over second basemen Eduardo Nunez and Brock Holt, who have been filling for injured veteran Dustin Pedroia, who has been limited to three games because of a knee injury.
Kinsler, 36, a 2016 Gold Glove Award winner who was acquired from Detroit in December, struggled for three months, hitting .218 with a .669 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, 11 home runs and 22 runs batted in through June.
He is batting .320 with an .860 OPS, two home runs and 10 RBIs in 21 games in July to raise his average to .239. The Angels reportedly sent $1.8 million of the remaining $3.6 million on Kinsler’s contract to the Red Sox to keep them under the maximum $237-million luxury-tax threshold.
“It was a difficult decision,” Eppler said, “but we’re excited about the players we’re getting back and their potential impact.”
Buttrey, 25, was Boston’s 19th-best prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. The 6-foot-6, 230-pound right-hander was 1-1 with a 2.25 earned-run average in 32 games, striking out 64 batters and walking 14 in 44 innings.
Eppler said Buttrey’s fastball averages 96 mph and touches 99 mph. His changeup was deemed by Baseball America as the best in the Red Sox system.
“He looks pretty darn close to major league ready,” Eppler said.
Jerez, 25, was ranked 23rd by MLB Pipeline. The 6-4, 200-pound left-hander was 2-1 with a 3.68 ERA in 33 games, striking out 67 and walking 24 in 511/3 innings. He mixes a fastball that averages 95 mph and has touched 100 mph with an above-average changeup and an average slider.