While the Los Angeles Angels may not have the most available personnel—or available cash—to make any significant noise as the MLB trade deadline nears, that doesn't mean there won't be any last-minute buzz gaining decibels down in Anaheim.
In fact, when a team has gone from potential—almost expected—2013 contender to surefire seller in only a matter of 100 games, things may end on Wednesday afternoon with a giant roar.
They have already made one move, but will they make another? So begins the Los Angeles Angels countdown to move, hold, or do a little of both.
You're on the clock, Halos.
What started out as a blank-faced poker stare by Angels front office brass—never reveling their hand as the trade deadline neared—has quickly turned into a gossip-saturated whisper, leaving the possibility of an unexpected trade from an unexpected buyer turned seller.
Keep in mind there also could be a stalemate, though, with many of the predictions and scenarios dissipating into the actual reality of live baseball games in August and September.
Either way, stay or hit, here is what we know so far—understanding that a lot can change in 24 hours.
Update: The Angels eye Arizona Diamondbacks Ian Kennedy, Alberto Callaspo a possible trade chip
The idea the Angels were one-and-done movers this deadline has quickly changed in the other direction.
According to MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez (via Twitter), there is better than a 50/50 chance the team makes another move. And it looks as though he is correct.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported (via Twitter) that Diamondbacks' right-handed hurler Ian Kennedy is on the table for the Angels. And Heyman's colleague Danny Knobler has reported that Angels' third baseman Alberto Callaspo is now a potential chip for the New York Yankees.
Kennedy, a Southern California native that went to USC, would be another starting option on the who's-next rotation the Angels currently display, but his numbers are not that solid this season (3-7 with a 5.22 ERA).
Because of Kennedy's price-tag (cheap), however, this deal may happen before any others that have come up so far.
According to Gonzalez, scouts for the club like Kennedy (he does carry a sub-four career ERA), and though it isn't clear who would be the return chip, the likes of Howie Kendrick may be too weighted for a middle-of-the-pack right-hander.
Perhaps then a deal involving Aybar—a player the club would most likely have an easier time parting with—would make sense. Assuming he doesn't end up somewhere else, in some other trade scenario.
If the move does happen, though, it won"t be tonight. Ian Kennedy is currently stretching in preparation for his start tonight, according to MLB.com's Steve Gilbert (via Twitter).
Update: Jason Vargas gaining interest on the market
For those who wondered whether or not Jason Vargas' injury—a blood clot in his armpit—would hurt the possibility to shop the left-hander, I think the answer is becoming a definite no.
Prior to the injury, that has kept Vargas out of the rotation since June 17, he showed improvement and consistency, going 6-2 in his last 10 starts.
It's not clear, at this point, what the Angels would want/get from the Orioles in return for an innings-eating lefty like Vargas. The fact he is a free agent next season, however, gives some credibility to the rumor.
Again, we will have to wait and see.
Don’t be fooled by the Cory Rasmus deal
Though the deadline is still one full day from “zero hour,” the Angels have not wasted any time turning some of the rumors to reality, sending left-handed reliever Scott Downs to the Atlanta braves for young pitching prospect Cory Rasmus.
Rasmus has the ability to become a solid addition to a less-than-solid crop of hurlers in the Halos' farm system, assuming he can harness the 92-94 mph fastball he possesses and cut down the walks he has racked up in the minors.
Though some have labeled the move as nothing more than cost control, such as Fangraph’s Dave Cameron, it’s also a positive change from past deadlines—where the Angels surrendered a lot of their top minor league prospects for the likes of Zack Greinke and Dan Haren.
But don’t let this early move by the organization fool you, as one person familiar with the team told MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez, “If they make only one trade this month, I wouldn’t be surprised.”
Besides the reality that the team has “very little to sell," as ESPN’s Jim Bowden noted, there isn’t a ton of quality arms in this year’s trade market.
There are, however, a ton of teams looking for arms.
Add in the large amounts of money owed to Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and (shake your head here) Vernon Wells next season, and any wheeling and dealing the team does by Wednesday will have to be extremely cost-friendly...and from the bottom of wish list.
Don’t expect to hear the “Fat Lady” bellowing out of the Angels’ clubhouse
The early move by the club, on the heels (literally) of Albert Pujols going on the DL, could be the “white-flagged surrender” of the Angels’ 2013 season, though manager Mike Scioscia doesn’t agree with that assessment.
From our perspective on the field, we're out here to win a game tonight as we always do. We know we have some holes on our team, but we also know there are a lot of things we can do well on the field, and that's where our energy is going to be.
Mark Trumbo echoed Scioscia’s feelings, saying:
I don't think anybody has given up on this season, although it doesn't look extremely promising if you were to take a snapshot of where we are right now. But there are a lot of motivated dudes in here. Although the record doesn't reflect it, I think everybody here is committed to winning.
Possible PR denial aside, there is something to the arguments made by both accounts. After all, two Wild Card spots does increase their chances down the stretch, and ground can always be gained when you least expect it—with Pujols, or without Pujols.
So perhaps the Rasmus deal is a first effort to rebuild by strengthening the entire system—and not just with Arte Moreno’s offseason pocketbook.
Unfortunately, that scenario may take more time than fans are willing to give.
Aybar and Kendrick could be traded
Erick Aybar and fellow infielder Howie Kendrick are the only two names currently popping up in the trade chatter.
Both possibilities make sense for the Angels, however. Especially when considering the MLB-ready arms they would ask in return.
But the lack of options to replace either player in the Angels' infield could hinder any thoughts of a deal, according to MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez.
Kendrick would be the more enticing chip, providing the rare, consistent offense from a second baseman, but he has the ability to block trades to 12 teams.
That could make him less attractive, assuming the money owed to him (through 2015) or the arms wanted in return didn’t already squash the deal, as Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal hinted at.
Aybar, on the other hand, could be the player who actually goes in a deal. He doesn’t have the ability to block trades—though the $25 million-plus owed to him though 2016 could add difficulty to cutting a deal—and as a contact hitter the .283 average only further highlights the speed playoff-bound teams love to have.
It's difficult to say if either will get shipped out of Anaheim. But it's certainly something Aybar understands, telling Gonzalez:
This is all part of the business and we can't control that. I'm going to keep playing my baseball. If it happens, it happens.
If and when it does happen, regardless of the player moved, the next few hectic, rumor-filled hours should be interesting—at least.
Note: All stats provided were courtesy of MLB.com unless otherwise noted.
For more trade info, follow Rick Suter on Twitter@ rick_suter.
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