The trade deadline is approaching and the Los Angeles Angels are in search of some pitchers to help bolster their bullpen. The team, which currently rests in second in the American League West behind the Oakland Athletics, began making midseason moves last week when they released 42-year-old Raul Ibanez. This left the designated hitter position open for CJ Cron, who continues to post impressive offensive numbers.
Today, the Angels shipped struggling closer Ernesto Frieri to Pittsburgh in return for fellow struggling closer Jason Grilli. The former Pirate could improve the bullpen, considering he was an All-Star in 2013, but the Angels are still looking to make some trades before July 31
In late May, reliever Sean Burnett was sent back to the disabled list after just three appearances, ending his 2014 season. His departure from the roster left the Angels without a left-handed reliever. Although the Angels have considered sending lefty starter Hector Santiago to the bullpen and finding another starter, the easiest option would be to trade for some new relievers. Sources claim that the team will look into Huston Street, Joaquin Benoit, Jonathan Papelbon, Antonio Bastardo and Jim Johnson.
Street, who currently plays for the San Diego Padres, wouldn’t fill the lefty reliever role, but he would certainly provide some consistency out of the bullpen. The right-handed hurler has a 0.96 ERA over 28 innings pitched. In addition, he has struck out 30 batters while only walking seven. In light of the recent Frieri-Grilli transaction, the Angels might look at their other options more closely, considering Huston is primarily a closer.
The same can be said of fellow Padres closer Joaquin Benoit. The Dominican pitcher has a 1.42 ERA in his first season in San Diego. Despite the effectiveness of his fastball, slider and changeup, Benoit is typically a one-inning guy. With the Angel starters stringing together strong performances and going deep in games, a few short relievers could be all that the team needs.
A viable short reliever option could be the Philadelphia Phillies’ Jonathan Papelbon, who was drafted in the fourth round by the Boston Red Sox in 2003. The righty has 18 saves and a 2-1 record this season. His specialty is a breaking ball, which often fans batters. With his velocity consistently decreasing, Papelbon could be a risky option for the Angels.
Phillies teammate Antonio Bastardo doesn’t have quite the resume as the other trade prospects this season, but he does have the left-handed delivery that the Angels need. Over 37 innings, he has a 2.68 ERA and 45 strikeouts. His involvement in the Biogenesis scandal could be unappealing to the Angels, especially because it resulted in a 50-game suspension. Thus, the sample size from last season is too small to determine his talent level.
Finally, the Oakland Athletics’ Jim Johnson is being considered by the Angels. At 5.51, his ERA is by far the highest of the group. It is an improvement from his first five appearances of the 2013 season, during which he posted an 18.90 ERA.
As far as who the Angels might trade to gain one of these pitchers, infielder Grant Green might be the best option. They could also part ways with one of their less consistent relievers.