Angels may have to turn to free-agent market to fill pitching void
Atlanta has a surplus of starting pitchers and might be willing to part with Tommy Hanson, Julio Teheran or Randall Delgado. Arizona is reportedly willing to trade Trevor Bauer, the former UCLA star who was the third pick in the 2011 draft.
Tampa Bay (James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson), Cleveland (Justin Masterson), the New York Mets (R.A. Dickey) and Chicago White Sox (Gavin Floyd) also have pitching assets that might interest the Angels, but General Manager Jerry Dipoto may lack the chips required to deal for such starters.
A commitment to start Peter Bourjos, long coveted by others, probably removes the speedy center fielder as potential trade bait, and with three rotation spots to fill, the Angels are not about to trade hard-throwing 24-year-old Garrett Richards.
There is no surplus of outfielders, unless you consider overpaid, underachieving Vernon Wells a tradable commodity, or middle infielders beyond Erick Aybar and Howie Kendrick.
There isn’t much power beyond Albert Pujols, Kendrys Morales and Mark Trumbo, who will fill the middle of the order, and the Angels used three top prospects — shortstop Jean Segura and pitchers Johnny Hellweg and Arial Pena — to acquire pitcher Zack Greinke in July.
There is little high-end talent in the system above double A, and Mike Trout isn’t going anywhere.
So where does that leave Dipoto in his search to fill rotation voids left by Greinke and Dan Haren, who are free agents, and Ervin Santana, who was traded to Kansas City? Probably in the free-agent market.
“Trades are very rarely connect one dot,” Dipoto said at the general managers’ meetings in Indian Wells. “You’re not typically trading A for B — there’s usually more than one name. There are a variety of ways to make trades. I can’t say I’ve spent a whole lot of time thinking through it, because I don’t know that that’s Plan A.”
Plan A is to go full bore for Greinke and add another pitcher to a rotation that consists of Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Jerome Williams and Richards. But Dipoto seems reluctant to break up his core to do so.
“We like our position-player club,” Dipoto said. “If at all possible, we’d like to keep that club together. Any time you add through a trade, you have to take away.”
Improving the bullpen is also a priority, and that pursuit could take the Angels to Japan. Dipoto confirmed he’s interested in free-agent closer Kyuji Fujikawa.
Fujikawa, 32, was 3-3 with a 1.24 earned-run average and 41 saves for the Hanshin Tigers last season and would like to play on the West Coast. The right-hander mixes a 93-mph fastball with a split-finger fastball and slider.
“There’s an attraction there for the player and for us,” Dipoto said. “We’ve seen him against major league hitters. There’s no question about his ability. He’s a talented guy.”
The Angels signed reliever Mitch Stetter, 32, to a minor league deal. The left-hander appeared in 132 games for Milwaukee from 2007-2011, going 8-2 with a 4.08 ERA. … Trout is the first Angels rookie and 17th player in franchise history to win a Silver Slugger Award, given to the top offensive producers at each position.
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