Is Brandon Marsh the Angels most tradeable asset?
By Ryan Falla
The LA Angels have been showing off quite a bit of young talent this Spring Training, and in return that talent has been showing off for the Angels.
We’ve had Matt Thaiss receive the LA Angels Fred Haney Award for most outstanding Angels rookie in Spring Training, we’ve seen Jose Rojas put up a strong runner-up case for that award as well as many other young contributors. However, out of all the prospects that have shown strength in Spring no one flashed as much upside as the 21-year-old Brandon Marsh.
We’ve seen a lot of prospects at the end of their development track raking in Spring Training, but out of all the players still in the thick of their development none have shown as much upside as Brandon Marsh.
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Marsh was a second round pick in the 2016 MLB draft but could not participate in the 2016 short season due to back injury. After a 2017 short season with Rookie Ball Orem, in which he slashed .350/.396/.548, Marsh finally got to see a full season in 2018 with Low A Burlington and Class A Advanced Inland Empire.
It’s no surprise to see Marsh rank as a Top 3 Prospect in the Angels system when looking at his tools. He stands at 6-4, 215 lbs but moves like he’s 50 pounds lighter.
Marshes ability in the outfield is distinct, he has great tracking ability and is capable of completing high-leverage defensive plays. He rates strongly as a defensive CF’er, which is his natural position, though he does spend plenty of time in RF. With the Angels locking up CF for the next 12 years he’s going to have to get his work in RF or LF in the coming years which won’t be a problem for the talented prospect, who i should mention receives plenty of comparison to current MLB star Charlie Blackmon.
His offensive rates just as high as his defense if not higher; there’s a strong ability to make contact and control the plate within Marsh although he did have trouble practicing this with consistency in his 2018 MiLB full season debut. 2018 saw him slash a line of .266/.359/.408 with 10 HR’s, 27 Doubles, 7 Triples, and 14 Stolen Bases (across Low A/ Class A Advanced) in what was a transitional year for Marsh. He spent most of the season working on solidifying his pitch selection/zone-control as he ended up finishing the year with 158 K’s in 579 PA’s, though he did manage 73 BB’s through all that.
Here’s where things get dicey; it’s going to be difficult for the Angels to figure out what to do with all the outfielders they’ve brought on board through the draft in recent years. As of now there stands to be competition between D’Shawn Knowles, Michael Hermosillo, Brennon Lund, Trent Deveaux, William English, and Jordyn Adams in the future. That’s just at the bottom of the organization, at the top we have Justin Upton, Mike Trout, Kole Calhoun firmly entrenched in the outfield with Jared Walsh looking to break in as a spot outfielder. Kole Calhoun could make interesting trade bait at the All-Star break and Upton is looking to start the season injured so there are question marks, but none that Marsh could fill as of now.
The burning question that remains is what happens with Marshes future; do they wait until 2020 to clear the deck, relegate Upton to part-time and field Marsh, Trout, and Adell for the foreseeable future? Or do the Angels take a different route and use the high-profile stock Marsh has built into a high-profile mid-season trade? Marsh is going to be roaming the outfield for some lucky MLB club for a long time, and if it isn’t the Angels what’s the next best option?
The Mets would be a good fit for Marsh; a team that could use an enticing, close to ready prospect package that would bring back high-profile pitching to the Angels. Noah Syndergaard may be the ace of the Mets, but a package featuring Top Prospects such as Marsh/Jahmai Jones as well as a couple of mid-level prospects such as Jesus Castillo and Jose Suarez may get the conversation started. This may not get a deal done, but it’s definitely enticing enough to warrant a conversation.
There’s also the valued trade target in Corey Kluber, who is coming off one of his best seasons at the age of 32. Marsh is a prospect who can bring longevity to the Angels or any ballclub he goes too so it might not be the best move to ship him off for a 32-year-old with only two more seasons of team control. Though if the Angels did strike a deal for Kluber it would be less prospect intensive than a trade for Syndergaard.
There’s also fellow Indian Trevor Bauer, who has also been a target of trade conversation, though to a lesser extend than Kluber. Bauer is coming off his best season by far in 2018 (2.21 ERA 175.1 IP) after posting 6 seasons of 4+ ERA ball. His stock is at an all time high which would require a high-profile package, but at the same time the Angels could get a conversation going on the subject by offering up Marsh and a supporting package. Bauer may be the best middle ground option as he isn’t as old as Kluber or valuable as Syndergaard and thus could provide a great return at a semi-reasonable offering.
The real question here is how hard the Angels are fixing to compete now. Do they want to give up a chunk of their future in order to seriously compete for the next 3 years? The Angels already believe they’re in a strong spot to compete and depending on how the season goes they may choose to bolster their starting staff for a real strong playoff push. Likewise it stands to reason that they’ll stand pat with where they are and be content to let the organizational pieces grow into big time contributors for the squad.
Trading Brandon Marsh is a tricky subject that cannot be fully digested without seeing where the Angels team is by mid-season. If they’re in a position to compete for playoffs and seek to secure a playoff run then they’ll more than likely have to shop Brandon Marsh as the centerpiece of a trade package. Sure teams will be calling in for Jo Adell, but that isn’t going to happen, the Angels will rebuff with Marsh and then we’ll see where it goes from there.
It also depends on where other teams are by the break; it’s highly doubtful the Indians will be looking to restock their youth system by sending one of their best pitchers if they’re in the middle of a playoff hunt themselves. Likewise it stands to reason that another poor Mets season would incline them towards restocking their future assets. Plus, after being just a few years removed from playoff contention the organization may want to shore up roster for another strong run instead of letting the team continue to fall by the wayside. What losing team wouldn’t want to trade for a future of Brandon Marsh, aka the next Charlie Blackmon?
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This is all assuming the Angels would want to trade him, which I see as being very doubtful as of right now. Things can change very fast after half a season so we’ll have to revisit this topic again in a few months, but as it stands now there is no other Angel that can headline a trade a bring in as much value as the future All-Star Brandon Marsh. This doesn’t mean a trade of Marsh is worth it, but as his value stands right now he has the best chance to bring in a high-profile starting pitcher out of any Angel prospect or Big Leaguer aside from Trout and Adell.
If the Angels are looking to compete sooner than later this may be the move they’ll have to make.