The Los Angeles Angels entered the 2020 season with high expectations, but struggles could push them to be sellers at the trade deadline?
At 7-12 on the season, the Los Angeles Angels sit in a precarious position. They are on the outside looking in on a playoff spot, with two games separating them from second place in the AL West. It isn’t an insurmountable mark, but an unfortunate position to be in with a shortened schedule in 2020.
While there is still plenty of baseball in front of them, with 32% of the season completed, the team has plenty of reason to conduct itself with urgency. In addition to the speed in which the season is flying by, the Angels are also staring down their longest stretch of games in 2020, an 18-game slate that will start with the Dodgers on Friday, and include the Astros, Athletics, Giants, and Mariners.
Oh, and there’s this little thing called the trade deadline approaching as well.
There will be only one trade deadline in 2020, and as a byproduct of the COVID-19 delays, that important appointment will fall on August 31st. That gives the Angels 18 days to assess whether they are contenders or not, and whether they’ll get a head start on planning for 2021.
If the latter course is chosen, the Angels may begin looking at trade chips they may not bring back next season. There will be decisions to be made in regard to pending free agents, arbitration-eligible players, others that may be deemed replaceable next winter.
With that in mind, it’s never too early for us to start looking at some of the Angels potential trade chips and why they may be appealing to contenders down the stretch.
Angels Trade Chip – Hansel Robles (RP)
Earlier this winter, when we were still wondering if there would even be baseball in 2020, we took a look at which Angels we deemed as potentially untouchable in trade talks. At the time, we listed Hansel Robles as an honorary mention. At the time, we said the following:
"“While he is controllable for the next two seasons and should be cost-effective even during his last two turns through arbitration, that’s also part of what makes him attractive to potential buyers. There is also the volatility in regard to relievers in the game, and most teams that sell high often make out better than the teams that opt to hold on to pieces.”"
That proved to be a fairly foreboding statement. Robles, who was coming off of a stellar 2019 season where he went 5-1 with 23 saves, and a 4.69 K/BB ratio was expected to be the anchor of the bullpen. However, he got bombed early and ultimately lost his role after a blown save on August 1st.
So did the Angels wait too long to trade Robles and cash in high? Perhaps, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t value here.
After the rough start to the season, he’s spun off four-consecutive scoreless outings while striking out seven and walking just one over his last 3.2 innings of work. While its a small sample size (as were the off terrible early appearances), it’s a positive sign for a pitcher many wrote off early in the season.
If Robles can string together another few solid outings, he may regain his role as the Angels closer. However, he could also find himself in high demand if suitors feel they are getting something closer to the 2019 version.