Zack Greinke is available, and James Shields remains a target, but the Angels’ chances of acquiring a front-of-the-rotation starter before Tuesday’s non-waiver trade deadline “are below 50% right now,” according to a source who is familiar with the team’s thinking but not authorized to speak publicly on such matters.
The challenge for the Angels is that with an extra wild card boosting the number of teams in playoff contention, there are far more buyers, including the prospect-rich Texas Rangers, than sellers, “and that’s really limiting what you can do,” the source said.
The Angels also have a shortage of attractive trade chips, and General Manager Jerry Dipoto would prefer not to deal his best two, pitcher Garrett Richards and center fielder Peter Bourjos. Plus, there appears to be little wiggle room to add to a record-high $154-million payroll.
“It’s not because of a lack of effort,” the source said, “but it’s becoming cost-prohibitive.”
With the Milwaukee Brewers 9½ games off the National League wild-card race, General Manager Doug Melvin said he is “fielding calls” on Greinke, the 28-year-old right-hander who is 9-3 with a 3.44 earned run average this season.
The risk in acquiring Greinke, the 2009 American League Cy Young Award-winner who makes $13.5 million this season, is that he can depart as a free agent next winter with the team that acquires him, under the new collective bargaining agreement, receiving no draft-pick compensation.
The benefit, especially for an Angels rotation weakened by Dan Haren’s back injury and Ervin Santana’s ineffectiveness and inconsistency?
“If you’re in a pennant race, this guy is a difference-maker,” Melvin told USA Today. “He can go deep into games. He’s never been on the DL except for a basketball injury. He’s very athletic.”
The Brewers are seeking a young shortstop and an arm to plug into the rotation for Greinke. The Angels would be willing to trade shortstop Jean Segura, their top position-playing prospect, but Richards is the only Angels pitcher who fits Milwaukee’s needs.
The Angels seem willing to part with Bourjos and catching prospect Hank Conger in exchange for Shields, the Tampa Bay right-hander who is 8-7 with a 4.52 ERA and is under club control through 2014, with a $7-million salary this season and options for 2013 ($9 million) and 2014 ($12 million).
The Angels are also believed to be interested in Miami right-hander Josh Johnson, but they appear to have backed off on Minnesota left-hander Francisco Liriano.
The Angels could pursue rotation depth and trade for a pitcher such as Rays right-hander Wade Davis, “but I think they’re looking for more of a No. 2 or No. 3 starter, a guy who could be in a playoff rotation,” the source said.