As the Winter Meetings have heated up, the LA Angels dealt infielder Zack Cozart along with 2019 first round pick Will Wilson to the San Francisco Giants in a salary dump.
Doing this clears the LA Angels of the remaining $12.67 million left on Cozart’s deal. Giving up a first round pick who impressed in his first year hurts, but this is a trade that means much, much more in the bigger picture of things.
The Angels now have much more maneuverability in free agency. In all likelihood, if the Angels signed Gerrit Cole prior to this trade, they’d be limited to second-tier additions the rest of the offseason. However, this trade gives them a legitimate opportunity to have a 2012 redo.
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What I’m trying to tell you is this: the LA Angels have all of the resources necessary to bring both the top pitcher in Gerrit Cole, along with the top hitter in Anthony Rendon to Anaheim for the next seven years.
Will this happen? Probably not. Could this happen? 100%.
The Angels might not even have to go over the luxury tax to do so. And even if they did, bringing in both Cole and Rendon would cause a complete power shift in the American League for the next half decade at least. The Angels have very little commitments financially going forward, and this is the best class of free agents for years to come.
Now is the perfect time for the Halos to make their move, and Billy Eppler, Arte Moreno, and the entire front office seems to know that.
Even if the Angels miss out on one of the two top options, they’ll have more financial might than anyone to attack the second-tier of free agents. Sign Cole but miss out on Rendon? Hello, Josh Donaldson. Ink Rendon to a long-term deal but lose Cole to the Evil Empire? Hello Hyun-Jin Ryu and Madison Bumgarner.
The final and most important part of this trade is that Billy Eppler wouldn’t trade away a first round pick for a salary dump unless he was 99.99% sure that he’d be able to land a big name in free agency or via trade. The Cozart trade not only opens up salary room, it gives off a sense of confidence from this front office.
And needless to say, it’s time to put up or shut up for Billy Eppler and Co.