The Angels cannot afford to waste their biggest trade chip at the deadline

How LA handles Taylor Ward at the trade deadline could determine if the Angels can build a sustainable contender.
New York Yankees v Los Angeles Angels
New York Yankees v Los Angeles Angels / Brandon Sloter/GettyImages

While they will never admit it right now, it is pretty clear that the Los Angeles Angels is trending towards being sellers to some degree at the trade deadline. Even the most optimistic of Angels fans would have to agree that being 15 games under .500 after 65 games is hard to come back from even if the team starts playing a bit better.

This season was always about giving the Angels' young guys experience to build upon for the future. That plan is a bit speculative given that while the Angels do have some fun young players on their big league roster, there isn't exactly a ton of help coming from the minor leagues anytime soon. However, the Angels do have a way to jumpstart things at the trade deadline this year.

Unfortunately, such a plan would require not only parting with standout outfielder Taylor Ward, but also for the Angels not to screw it up.

Taylor Ward is a popular trade deadline name, but the Angels need to hold out for the best return

This time of year is rife with speculation about which teams could be sellers, which players will be available from those sellers, and then a host of truly terrible mock trade packages from a bunch of armchair GMs that don't understand player value. It is a tale as old as time.

While it is still early, Ward is considered among the potential best available bats on the trade market and has been a very popular name in the early trade deadline rumor mill. It is easy to see why that is the case as most of bats that might be available are either going to be prohibitively expensive (both in terms of payroll and in cost to acquire) or have little or no team control remaining. The list gets even shorter when you filter by guys that can play in the outfield.

Given that Ward can drive the ball, is an excellent fielder, and is under team control through 2026, he easily the Angels best trade piece at the trade deadline. Sure, Tyler Anderson is likely to be available as well, has been really good this year, and pitching is always in demand, but he is making real money at $13 million a year and comes with one fewer year of control (and at a more risky position). That means that the Angels can't afford to screw up moving Ward if that is the route they choose.

Again, the Angels' farm system is bereft of talent right now and if they are going to sell, it has to be worthwhile. If Ward doesn't net LA multiple higher-end prospects with one almost certainly needing to be a pitcher that is close to big-league ready, then Perry Minasian's front office will have really botched their best chance to get the Angels back on track.

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