The Los Angeles Angels fell way short of expectations the past two seasons, after making big headlines in the offseason, they missed the postseason the past two years, four years in total.
A great part of the misery was their starting pitching rotation. Anything after ace Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson was a mess. Jason Vargas was okay but missed two months of the season with a blood clot under his armpit. Tommy Hanson was just terrible and Jerome Williams and Garret Richards had their moments but weren’t much effective for the most part.
Coming into this postseason GM Jerry Dipoto had to valuable trade chips in his disposable to strengthen the teams’ holes. He used his first trade chip in a deal witht he St. Louis Cardinals that brought third baseman David Freese and reliever Fernando Salas in exchange for center fielder Peter Bourjos.
Then at the beginning of the Winter Meetings earlier this week, Dipoto used his second trade chip in Mark Trumbo in a three-team trade. The Angels hooked up with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago White Sox for a deal that sent two young left-handed starting pitchers to the Halos.
The Angels traded Trumbo to the Diamondbacks for Tyler Skaggs, then the diamondbacks traded center fielder Adam Eaton to the White Sox, who then sent Hector Santiago the the Angels.
Skaggs was originally drafter by the Angels and went to Arizona in the Dan Haren trade, which Dipoto was a member of. The 22-year-old took a step back in 2013 as the Diamondbacks messed with his stride which dropped his velocity and movement on his breaking ball. Getting his stride back to where it was, the Angels envision ii becoming the high-ceiling prospect they thought they had before trading him away. Skaggs won’t be eligible for arbitration until at least 2016 and can be controlled through the 2019 campaign if he’s in the Majors from here on out.
Skaggs appeared in the Top 15 of Baseball America’s Top 100 list prior to the 2012 and 2013 seasons but has a 5.43 ERA with 7.5 K/9, 3.7 BB/9 and a 40 percent ground-ball rate in 68 Major League innings. He has a 4.02 ERA with 8.7 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 156 2/3 innings at the Triple-A level — all of which have come with him being one of the league’s youngest pitchers.
Santiago gives the Angels a solid back-of-the-rotation arm who has the potential to become a top-of-the-rotation starter if he can continue to throw more strikes. He also brings a unique quality rarely seen in baseball nowadays, he throws a screwball. The pitch can be demanding on the elbow but with it being a lost-art now, it is a very effective pitch as hitters don’t face it anymore. He’s not arbitration eligible until next winter and can be controlled through the 2017 campaign.
Santiago has a career 3.41 ERA with 8.7 K/9, 4.5 BB/9 and a 37.5 percent ground-ball rate in 224 2/3 big league innings. An extreme fly-ball pitcher, Santiago should enjoy Mike Trout playing behind him in center field.
With the back-end of the rotation seemingly settled, the Angels are still in search of a solid veteran number three type pitcher and have set their sights on Matt Garza. If they land Garza, their biggest weakness last season will become one of their biggest strengths this upcoming season.