The LA Angels have had an absolutely tumultuous August so far. They’ve won just two games, and it makes me wonder just how different this season could be with a waiver trade deadline.
This offseason, the LA Angels and the rest of the MLB were told this would be the first season with just one trade deadline. Previously, there would be a non-waiver trade deadline at the end of July, with the waiver deadline coming a month later.
With just one deadline, teams had to decide what their organization was capable of much earlier than previously. At the time, the Angels were winning at a solid pace and against talented teams. They were still only looking for controllable assets, but they were in a buyers mood.
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Two weeks later, and the team has taken a complete turn for the worse. Outside of two wins in Boston, the Angels have shown no ability to perform, and this season, if not for a few interesting storylines, is a complete wash…again.
But I can’t help to think about this: what if the trading rules hadn’t changed before the 2019 season? What if the Angels and the 29 other teams still had the ability to trade via waivers?
Well, for starters, the Angels would like be looking for any cheap starting pitcher they could grab. That isn’t because they’re playing to reach the postseason, but with so many injuries to their rotation, they literally just need players who are capable of eating inning without completely embarrassing themselves and the team.
However, on the flip side, the Angels could also be huge sellers at this point of the season. In July, there was a lot of uncertainty towards the Angels’ playoff hopes. Now, however, there is absolute certainty. Barring a 2002-esque miracle, the Angels won’t be making any playoff appearances this decade.
So who could they trade? The obvious candidate is Kole Calhoun. While he has slowed down, he’s still having a career year and could help a contending team as a bottom-of-the-order slugger and elite fielder. The return on Calhoun would be interesting, but I’d guess it’d be similar to what the Cubs gave up for Nicholas Castellanos: two prospects that would land in the Angels’ Top 30 but don’t project to be anything more than backend starters.
The Angels could have also used the trade waivers when they had their clog at the catcher position. Rather than designating both Dustin Garneau and Jonathan Lucroy for assignment and getting nothing in return, they could have at the very least placed them on trade waivers to see if any team would jump to trade a low-end prospect.
While that might not seem worth it, remember Patrick Sandoval was received from Houston in the Martin Maldonado trade, and the player to be named later from Tampa Bay in the CJ Cron trade turned into Luis Rengifo.
I’m not saying the Angels would have turned their season around if there was still a second trade deadline, and I’m definitely not saying they’d be able to completely revamp their farm system either. However, Billy Eppler loves working the margins, and often does a good job at winning them. If the trade waiver deadline was still at the end of August, he could have spent August doing just that, and putting the club in a better position to win going into 2020.