NL Central trade targets
Chicago Cubs trade target: Nico Hoerner
Nico Hoerner probably won't be available in a trade, but it's not completely out of the question. The Cubs are pursuing the high-end shortstops in free agency and that's where Hoerner played primarily in 2022. They have some young talent like Christopher Morel and Nick Madrigal who can play in the middle infield if Hoerner were to be shipped off. The Angels would need to blow them away, so it's unlikely, but it's not impossible.
With that being said, Hoerner could be a guy the Angels look at and give a lot up for. He slashed .281/.327/.410 with ten home runs and 55 RBI. He stole 20 bases in 22 attempts and played elite defense at a premium position. He ranked in the 98th percentile in outs above average according to baseball savant.
He doesn't hit for much power but he had just an 11% strikeout rate which was in the 98th percentile while his whiff rate was in the 98th percentile. He's the kind of hitter the Angels lack in the power and strikeout-heavy lineup.
He's under team control through 2025 so he wouldn't be cheap, but I really don't think he'd be impossible to acquire.
Cincinnati Reds trade target: Luis Cessa
Luis Cessa has spent most of his career as a reliever but he made starts in each of his final nine appearances of the season. He allowed three runs or fewer in all but one of those starts and once he was stretched out he went at least five innings in six out of his seven starts in September.
Cessa could be used as a low-end sixth starter or he can be used out of the bullpen. He's had success in both spots. This is his final year of team control so Cincinnati won't be asking for too much for this right-hander and the Angels get a decent arm to plug into their staff. The Reds don't have much to give up, so Cessa will have to do.
Milwaukee Brewers trade target: Willy Adames
After the Hunter Renfroe trade, I question the Brewers' commitment to winning in 2023. They already traded Josh Hader away when he wasn't even a free agent after the year and maybe they're going to start a rebuild. If they do, Willy Adames might be one of the first players to go.
Adames isn't a typical shortstop offensively. He doesn't hit for a very high average and strikes out a lot but he has a ton of power. He slashed .238/.298/.458 with 31 home runs and 98 RBI. He's a terrific defender as well, ranking in the 97th percentile in outs above average according to baseball savant.
He's under team control through the 2024 season, so they might look to deal him now while he has an additional year of control attached to him. With the Angels needing a shortstop and them being unlikely to spend big for one, a trade for Adames might be the way to go.
Pittsburgh Pirates trade target: David Bednar
David Bednar proved his terrific rookie season was no fluke by being arguably even better in 2022. He had a 2.61 ERA in 45 appearances and 51.2 innings pitched. He struck out 12.0 batters per nine while walking 2.8/9 and allowing 0.7 HR/9. He was an all-star this season.
Bednar missed almost two months with a back injury but returned in late September and allowed one run in five innings.
Bednar had ten appearances where he recorded more than three outs including one eight-out save in St. Louis. He recorded four saves of at least six outs. He had 19 saves in 23 opportunities overall for the Pirates.
Bednar is under team control through 2026. The Pirates don't appear to be close to winning yet, so they could trade him now before he gets expensive and loses value later on. They'd be able to get a lot for him. He'd slot right in as the Angels closer for 2023 and beyond.
St. Louis Cardinals trade target: Paul DeJong
The Cardinals are a team without much that I think they'd be willing to trade that'd help the Angels in 2023. I know a guy they'd be very willing to trade is Paul DeJong. Hear me out, Angels fans.
After his 30-home run campaign in 2019 DeJong has been a disaster offensively. He's slashed .182/.269/.352 with 25 home runs and 70 RBI in 190 games in the last two seasons. He's owed $9 million dollars for the 2023 season with club options for $12.5 million dollars and $15 million dollars for 2024 and 2025 respectively. Unless things change dramatically, those options, of course, will be denied.
While DeJong has been awful at the plate, he's one of the best defensive shortstops in the game. With that in mind, the Angels could maybe trade David Fletcher and his two extra years to St. Louis in a bad contract swap that gets rid of the money quicker for the Halos. Both are horrible hitters but DeJong is better defensively at shortstop than Fletcher is.
It wouldn't be pretty, but it could be a pretty shrewd way of getting that Fletcher money off the books.