Trust me, LA Angels fans, I’m as disappointed as you are. That was one of the worst trade deadlines in recent memory for the Halos, however, at least they came away with one incredible under-the-radar move.
Every LA Angels fans wanted a starter. Maybe even two. It seemed like a surefire move for Billy Eppler to make. The Halos barely have enough arms to go around their rotation, so even adding a back-end innings eater seemed necessary.
Nonetheless, as we all know, no pitcher was acquired. While the Houston Astros went ahead and traded for Zack Greinke, the Halos added Max Stassi from the Astros. He was not the pitcher wanted and (desperately) needed, but emotions aside, Stassi was a phenomenal add by Eppler.
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Max Stassi is a career .218 hitter, having spent his entire career to this point with the Astros. He has been apart of a championship team and is undeniably one of the best defensive catchers in baseball. And, hey, for what it’s worth, Stassi threw a third of an inning earlier this season, and didn’t allow any runs!
On a serious note though, Max Stassi is a type of player the Angels haven’t had all season long. He is a defensive first catcher, who has proven he is adept at game calling as well. Kevan Smith and Jonathan Lucroy have both been underwhelming on the defensive side of things, and could form a nice duo with Stassi upon his arrival to the Angels’ clubhouse.
One thing to note: Lucroy, Smith, and Stassi are all three out of minor league options. So come Friday, the Halos will have to designate one of the players for assignment. Stassi obviously wouldn’t have been traded for if the team was going to DFA him, so it’s between Lucroy and Smith.
Smith may seem to be the obvious victim. However, he (like Stassi) is under team control for the next three seasons. Lucroy would become a free agent at the end of the season. It wouldn’t be crazy for the Angels to continue their season with the tandem of Smith and Stassi.
That duo would complement each other perfectly. Kevan Smith’s bat is what gives him value behind the plate, where his defense is lackluster. As noted, Stassi’s defense is amongst the best in the MLB while his offensive numbers are underwhelming.
Speaking of Stassi’s offense, there’s reason to believe he could see improvement with the Angels. We have seen numerous players (Andrelton Simmons, Kole Calhoun, Matt Thaiss) go through changes in their swing with the Halos and find success after the change. Stassi may just be the next Halo to go through a swing revolution, and if that happens, this trade could go from good to great very fast.
The overall feeling of the deadline for the Angels was underwhelming. However, context aside, trading two teenage non-Impact prospects away for an elite defensive catcher is a savvy move from Billy Eppler, and he should be applauded for it.
Now….can we get Gerrit f@#%ing Cole already?