LA Angels: Five Worst, Five Best Deals of the 2010’s

Angel Stadium, Los Angeles Angels, (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
Angel Stadium, Los Angeles Angels, (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

As every MLB team does, the LA Angels, through multiple general managers, made a plethora of good moves, and a few too many bad moves.

Here, we break down the five worst and five best deals the LA Angels made. There were a lot to choose from, as we’re including both signings and trades, but these ten moves defined the highest of highs and lowest of lows for the Angels.

Honorable Mention: Anthony Rendon‘s 7-year, $245 million deal hasn’t been a great deal yet, but it could be the signing that takes the Angels over the top this next decade. While he doesn’t qualify for this list considering he hasn’t yet played, it’s worth mentioning how big of a deal bringing in another superstar is for the Angels.

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5th Worst: Signing Zack Cozart to a 3-year, $38 million deal

Coming off of a phenomenal 2017 season, Zack Cozart was, in theory, well worth this contract. Even with the expected regression, Cozart was expected to be a rock solid starter with a possible All Star season in 2018. Instead, he rarely played for the Angels and hurt them even more when they needed to clear his contract earlier this offseason. As a result, they shipped him and first round pick Will Wilson to San Francisco in a salary dump.

5th Best:  Signing CJ Wilson to a 5-year, $77.5 million deal

While some look back at CJ Wilson’s time as an Angel as a negative, he was a dependable starter during his tenure in Anaheim. He averaged 30 starts a season in a decade where the Angels couldn’t find healthy starting pitching anywhere.

On top of his reliability, Wilson posted a cumulative 3.87 ERA throughout his four years as a starter alongside Jered Weaver, and was apart of the 2014 team that finished with the best record in baseball.

4th Worst and 4th Best: Signing Albert Pujols to a 10-year, $254 million deal

This is a bit of an awkward part of the list. Albert Pujols has not been worth the $254 million he is going to make as an Angel in terms of on-field production. His salary has capped the Angels’ spending ability for most of the decade (even if it doesn’t seem like it).

That being said, no Angels fan can deny how awesome it has been to watch Albert Pujols climb up the all-time leaderboards in so many different statistics. While it will be nice to have the additional financial flexibility in two years, it’ll be weird watching an Angels team that doesn’t have Albert Pujols.

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3rd Worst: Trading Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera for Vernon Wells

This one hurts just looking at it. When this trade was made, it was the type of deal that we all grimaced at. Vernon Wells quickly became a negative for the Angels, and was the epitome of the black hole the Angels had in left field this decade. The trading away of Mike Napoli makes this trade hurt even more. Since the trade, every Angels catcher hit 138 home runs, while Mike Napoli would go onto hit 175 home runs after the trade.

3rd Best: Trading Sean Newcomb and Chris Ellis for Andrelton Simmons

This was a trade many fans questioned at the time, but it’s hard to deny it was a massive win for the Angels. Sure, the Angels lost out on their two top pitching prospects. But Andrelton Simmons tapped into his offensive potential to morph all the way from a defensive wizard, to a star shortstop, to a potential Hall of Famer. Even if he doesn’t sign an extension with the Angels next year (which we all hope he does), trading for Andrelton Simmons was one of the highlights of Billy Eppler’s career as general manager of the Angels.

2nd Worst: Trading Mike Clevinger for Vinnie Pestano

In the thick of a race towards the playoffs in 2014, the Angels traded away low-level pitching prospect Mike Clevinger for reliever Vinnie Pestano to try to fortify their bullpen. While Pestano posted a 0.93 ERA for the Angels that year, this was still a huge loss for the Angels. Mike Clevinger has developed into a true ace in Cleveland, while the Angels flamed out of the postseason in 2014. Pestano followed up with a 5.40 ERA in 2015, and pitched a total of 21.1 innings for the Angels.

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2nd Best: Landing Shohei Ohtani

I know this wasn’t like a normal free agent signing, but there’s no denying how monumental of a deal landing Shohei Ohtani was for the Angels. In the 2017 offseason, their two biggest needs were arguably starting pitching and a left-handed power bat. They landed both of those – at the major league minimum salary – in Ohtani. While he’s dealt with injuries early in his career, the Angels still have perhaps the most talented overall player in the MLB, and he is set for an epic comeback in 2020.

The Worst: Signing Josh Hamilton to a 5-year, $125 million deal

This is undeniably the worst signing of the decade for the Angels. Josh Hamilton’s story is a sad one, as he dealt with a sharp decline in production and injuries in Anaheim almost immediately. Hamilton then suffered a cocaine relapse in 2015, and his story became about much more than baseball. Josh Hamilton was my favorite non-Angel when he signed with the team in 2012, and watching his fall was one of the hardest stories to watch unfold as a fan.

The Best: Signing Mike Trout to a record-breaking 12-year, $430 million extension

This is a no-brainer to conclude this list. The constant “Trade Mike Trout” chants, headlines, and pleads from the rest of the MLB world reached a deafening pitch during the offseason last year. It was beginning to look like the Angels and Mike Trout might be heading towards a separation, especially with Bryce Harper actively recruiting the game’s best player to join him on his hometown Phillies.

But Billy Eppler and the Angels responded with authority. This is 100% a “remember where you were when you found out moment”. I was working at Starbucks, steaming milk for a venti soy milk caramel macchiato with three espresso shots when I pulled out my phone to check the notifications when I saw the Angels and Trout had reached an agreement. I felt a weight fall off my shoulders instantly.

Next. LA Angels Top Five Plays of 2019

It was the best deal the Angels could have ever made, and will keep him in Anaheim through 2020 and beyond.