Report: Angels Trying to Trade C.J. Wilson


Citing a report from Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Angels are actively shopping veteran southpaw, C.J. Wilson. The Angels signed Wilson to a five-year deal worth $77 million in the winter of 2011. Wilson went 17-7 with a 3.39 ERA in 2013, but dropped to 13-10 and a 4.51 ERA this past season. Heyman suggests that Wilson has fallen out of favor within the organization after a rough 2014 season, and his implosion in October. Wilson lasted just two thirds of an inning in his lone appearance in the American League Division series against the Kansas City Royals.

According to Heyman the Halos are hoping not to pay any of the remaining $38 million of Wilson’s contract. The Angels appear to want to clear salary to make a run at one of the big name free agent arms still available. The Angels are reportedly very close to the luxury tax threshold. Wilson is set to earn $18 million next season, so moving that contract could give the Halos considerable breathing room.

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The Angels have been looking to upgrade their starting rotation this offseason. Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, and James Shields all make sense as potential targets for the Angels. The market for Scherzer and Shields has been slow to develop, but both hurlers are still expected to land big dollars this offseason. Lester has been drawing interest from multiple clubs, but the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs are the clear favorites at this point to land the lefty.

Wilson is 34-years-old and if last season is any indication, he is beginning to regress. His 4.51 ERA was his worst mark since 2006, and his 31 starts were his lowest total since becoming a starter in 2010. He failed to reach the 200-inning plateau for the first time since joining the starting rotation, and his 13 wins are tied for his lowest total since 2010. With a plethora of attractive pitchers available this offseason, who are potentially cheaper and more productive than Wilson, the Halos will be hard pressed to move Wilson without eating any of his contract.

I personally would love to see the Angels pursue an upper tier starting pitcher this offseason. Signing Jon Lester would not require the Angels to give up a draft pick, so he would be my first choice. Also, Lester has a proven track record of being electric in the postseason. However, it might be a little late for the Angels to join the Lester bidding. There are rumblings that Lester is expected to sign with a club in the coming weeks. Unless the Halos can move Wilson very quickly, Lester will likely be off the market.

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Max Scherzer is a guy who would make a lot of sense in Anaheim. Scherzer won his first Cy Young Award in 2013, and has made consecutive All-Star games for the Detroit Tigers. Scherzer has won 39 games combined over the last two seasons, and posted a respectable 3.17 ERA. The 30-year-old right-hander has proven to be very durable, as he has pitched at least 187 innings in each of his last five seasons. It will likely take a contract worth north of $150 million to land the Missouri native, and he is tied to draft pick compensation.

James Shields is the other name Heyman mentioned in his article that the Angels are interested in. Shields is a bulldog, and has a reputation as a big game pitcher. I do not buy into the Shields hype too much as Shields gave himself the nickname “Big Game James.” Shields has registered at least 200 innings pitched in each of last eight seasons. Shields really struggled in the 2014 playoffs, going 1-2 and posting an ERA of 6.12. Shields will be 33-years-old when next season begins, and I would not offer him a $100 million dollar deal this offseason. In my opinion, Shields does not present the Angels with a significant upgrade over C.J. Wilson.

The Major League Baseball Winter Meetings begin on December 8th in San Diego. These meetings will present a golden opportunity for Angels’ general manager, Jerry Dipoto, to gage what Wilson is worth on the trade market.