The canceled trade between the Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers for Ross Stripling and Joc Pederson would have been a big win for the Angels.
The Los Angeles Angels know that they have a window of opportunity to make a postseason push. They’ve built a line-up that should be able to match-up with some of the best in the league. However, the problem, at least in recent seasons, has been what the team can expect from its starting rotation, both from health and productivity standpoints.
As such, it surprised no one that the team made a concerted effort to make significant additions to the team’s starting pitching depth, and for the most part, they did just that. The acquisitions of Dylan Bundy, Matt Andriese, and Julio Teheran, in addition to the expected addition of innings from Shohei Ohtani certainly add some protection to the rotation.
However, will the Angels regret letting pride get in the way of another addition to the rotation?
Back in February, the Dodgers and Angels had agreed to a trade that would have would have sent Joc Pederson and Ross Stripling across town in exchange for Luis Rengifo. The deal was meant to ride alongside the Dodgers acquisition of Mookie Betts and David Price. However, when the latter trade appeared to hit a snag, the Dodgers had to pump the brakes a bit on the swap with the Angels, which angered Arte Moreno and he eventually pulled the plug on their deal.
While the loss of the left-handed swinging Pederson and his one year of control won’t be a huge miss for the Angels, Stripling may be one that comes back to haunt the Angels in their efforts to improve their rotation. With three years of team control and an affordable salary ($2.1 million in 2020), there is definitely value to be had.
Over the course of his career, the right-handed Stripling has been shuttled back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen for the pitching-rich Dodgers. He’s made 136 career appearances (52 starts, 84 relief appearances), but his worth to the Angels would have certainly been as a starter. In 251 innings of work in the rotation, Stripling owns a 3.71 ERA, a 1.212 WHIP, and an 8.8 K/9 ratio.
By comparison, the Angels’ big acquisition of the winter was Dylan Bundy. Bundy owns a lifetime mark of 4.67 ERA, a 1.355 WHIP, and an 8.8 K/9. Bundy’s marks come with the caveat of being over a much larger sample of 614.1 innings and came in a much tougher AL East division. However, Stripling bests Bundy in other peripheral marks that are adjustable as well, like FIP (3.60 vs 4.75), hard-hit Rate (32.6% vs 33.0%), and ground ball rate (48.7% vs 36.0%).
Given that Angel Stadium placed 13th in runs and 11th in home runs when computing park factor in 2019, the groundball-heavy Stripling would have been a welcome addition to keep that in check. Of the Angels projected starters to open 2020 (Bundy, Andrew Heaney, Teheran, Andriese), only Andriese sports a higher groundball rate than Stripling, and he’s served a similar swingman role throughout his career, but with much different results.
Now, the swap could always be revisited, especially with Stripling openly commenting on how he was excited about the possibility of potentially starting with the Angels. The pieces may change, but Ross Stripling could still be had for an affordable trade package and the Angels would be better for it.
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However, that will mean Arte Moreno will have to mend some fences and swallow his pride a bit to get a deal done.