Breaking News: Angels Deal for Matt Joyce


On Tuesday afternoon, the Halos shipped reliever, Kevin Jepsen, to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for, outfielder/designated hitter, Matt Joyce. After many pundits assumed it would be a quiet winter in Anaheim, general manager, Jerry Dipoto, has made a flurry of big moves over the past week.

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Originally a 12th round selection of the Detroit Tigers, Matt Joyce, has spent the past 6 seasons in a Rays’ uniform. Joyce has experience playing both corner outfield spots and at DH. The 30-year-old was an All-Star in 2011 with Tampa after posting career highs in all major offensive categories. Joyce is in his final year of arbitration, and figures to make close to $4 million in 2015 before hitting the open market next fall.

Kevin Jepsen is a name that has been floated in trade rumors all offseason, and today the Angels sent their 7th inning man to the Rays. Jepsen was highly productive in 2014. Jepsen posted an ERA of 2.74 across 65 innings of work. Jepsen was on the trade block due to his arbitration status. After making $1.46 million in 2014, Jepsen is set for a nice bump in pay this season.

Aug 19, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays left fielder Matt Joyce (20) at bat against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Joyce had a bit of a down year offensively in 2014, batting .254 with 9 home runs and 52 RBI’s in 140 games. These numbers are not overly troubling, but Joyce did see his power numbers drop substantially after averaging 18 dingers per season over his prior three campaigns. Dipoto is a big believer in on base percentage, and Joyce is very adept at getting on base any way he can. In 2014, Joyce posted a .349 OBP, the second highest mark of his career.

The Angels will hope a change of scenery sparks Joyce to recapture his 2011 form, where he hit .277, clubbed 19 home runs, drove in 75 runs, and swiped 13 bags. While the stolen bases are unlikely to materialize, similar power numbers are certainly possible. For his career, Joyce has hit .250, with 88 home runs and 313 RBI’s. His career .342 OBP is very impressive, and likely one of the main reasons Joyce now calls Anaheim home.

Joyce is an average outfielder defensively. Joyce played 94 games in the outfield for the Rays last season, stationed in left for 81 of those games. In 2014, Joyce posted a fielding percentage of .986 in leftfield, against a league average of .987. Joyce has started the majority of games in right field during his career, but he is more comfortable defending in leftfield. Joyce is not as versatile defensively as the Angels other backup outfielders, Collin Cowgill, and, Dan Robertson, but he does provide the Halos with more offensive upside.

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There have been reports circulating that the Halos view Joyce primarily as a designated hitter. The Angels defense is at it’s best when Josh Hamilton, Kole Calhoun, and Mike Trout are patrolling the outfield, so employing Joyce at the DH spot makes plenty of sense. However, there are already questions being raised by members of the media regarding Joyce’s ability to hit left-handed pitching. Joyce has had significant trouble against southpaws, batting .189 over his 7-year career. Last season Joyce hit just .147 against lefties, and at age 30, he is unlikely to ever hit left-handers consistently.

My personal belief is that Matt Joyce will be the club’s primary designated hitter next season, while also serving as valuable insurance for potential injuries at the corner outfield spots. I expect manager, Mike Scioscia, will opt to platoon Joyce with a guy like, C.J. Cron, who crushes left-handers. This trade will be viewed as a steal for, Jerry Dipoto, and the Halos if Joyce can rediscover the stroke that compiled 54 home runs between 2011 and 2013. Joyce is a charismatic individual who is sure to win the fans over next summer in Anaheim.

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