The Los Angeles Angels’ new general manager, Billy Eppler, made a bold first move Thursday in regards to restructuring the Angels team that missed the playoffs by one game in 2015.
Eppler traded the second longest tenured Angel, shortstop Erick Aybar, to the Atlanta Braves along with top pitching prospects Sean Newcomb and Chris Ellis. In exchange, the Angels received Gold Glove shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who was also the Wilson 2015 Defensive Player of the Year, as well as getting the Braves’ No. 25 prospect, catcher Jose Briceno.
It seems like it was a steep price to pay to get Simmons, especially with the Braves in salary dump mode. They also have a top prospect at shortstop waiting in the wings named Jose Peraza, who is listed as the No. 22 prospect in the Braves farm system. That being said, the Angels might have been able to get Simmons without giving up both their top pitching prospects.
However, what’s done is done and there is no turning back now for Eppler and the Angels. With Aybar in the final year of a four-year contract, he was vulnerable to be traded as the Los Angeles Angels wanted to get something for their starting shortstop since 2008.
Aybar made the All-Star team once in 2013 and also won a Gold Glove in 2013. For his 10-year Angels career, Aybar batted .276 with 48 home runs, 417 RBIs, 43 triples and 141 stolen bases for the Halos. Aybar also had a .973 fielding percentage, making 131 errors in 4,896 total chances.
More than just stats, Erick Aybar was a leader both on and off the field, especially to many of the Hispanic players like Cuban shortstop prospect Roberto Baldoquin.
“We have an unbelievable friendship. Erick took me under his wing when I got here,” Baldoquin said through an interpreter. “We talk almost every day and he helps me get through the daily grind by giving me a lot of advice on how to get through things. He has been great.”
Simmons comes with an impressive resume and will more than make up for the loss of Aybar defensively. However, he will have to go a long way to be the kind of leader Aybar was for the club. Aybar was a class act all-around and a fan favorite, which will be missed greatly.
But as has been said many times in recent years, baseball is a business and that’s what this move was for Eppler and the Los Angeles Angels. Having to part with top prospects such as Sean Newcomb and Chris Ellis is the part that will be hard to stomach for Angels fans, but we will just have to wait and see how this move pans out over the next few years.
Sean Newcomb, the top Angels pitching prospect, was traded to the Atlanta Braves Thursday. Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
We at Halo Hangout wish the best of luck to Newcomb and Ellis in their up and coming careers. For Aybar, we just want to say thank you for all you have done for the team and the Angels organization over the past 10 years, and we hope that you have continued success in the future wherever you end up in free agency after the 2016 season.
I will end with this quote by Trey Wilson, who played Joe “Skip” Riggins as the manager of the Durham Bulls in the movie Bull Durham.
“This is the toughest thing a manager has to do, but the big club decided to make a change. Good luck in your next endeavor.” To Erick Aybar, “Happy trails to you. Until we meet again, keep smiling until then.” Good luck Erick, you will be missed.