David Freese, Joe Smith and Fernando Salas, the 3 newest members of the Angels, all filled areas of need for the 2014 Angels. While I don’t agree with the trade for Freese and Salas, I see why it was made.
It improves a 3rd base position that needed a proven player who could provide above average offense. While his defense left a lot to be desired last year(-16.5 UZR), he showed in the past that he could be at least a league average defender. Back issues, which are hopefully behind him now, limited his mobility at 3rd. That same lack of mobility hurt Freese’s offensive output as well in 2013. His .322 wOBA and 106 wRC+ were career lows and were eerily similar to Alberto Callaspo, who was traded away for Grant Green last year.
As an Angels fan, I can only hope that the injury issues are behind for Freese but that may be wishful thinking considering he’s entering his age 30 season and has never been known as a great athlete. He could easily become a guy who plays 100-120 games a year and provides replacement level value if his injures continue.
But why be negative? He’s one year removed from a huge 2012 season where he posted a 4.0 WAR and a 133 wRC+. That would have made him the 2nd best position player on the Angels in 2013. If you find an equal point between his past 2 years, you’re looking at a guy who will provide 2.0-2.5 WAR. I personally think he can do that next year and possibly post a 3 WAR season, just based on the fact that he was so god awful defensively last year and he has never been known to be that bad.
Obviously, people are torn about losing Bourjos and many people like myself have said that Bourjos is the better player. While that is true, Bourjos was going into next season as the 4th outfielder. That’s not to say that he is a 4th outfielder, because he isn’t. He still would’ve received plently of plate appearances next year but Dipoto found someone who could provide value at 3rd and traded away a guy who didn’t neccesarily fit into next season’s plans. Dipoto is fighting for his job so he isn’t making long term moves. He’s trying to win next year with a core of guys that is only getting older. I don’t agree with the trade but I see many reasons why it was made.
Bourjos himself has had injury issues too. No, I don’t think getting hit by a pitch makes it ok to call a player injury prone but he has had his fair share of injuries. I think he can post some 3 WAR seasons in the next few years, possibly reach that 5 win peak that he reached in 2011. I love Bourjos so seeing him go hurt quite a bit. I also like Freese a bit though and it’s a move that probably needed to be made considering where Dipoto is at.
Adding Grichuk in the deal and only getting Salas back hurts but I’m not going to lose sleep over losing Grichuk. I think his best case scenario is a platoon outfielder who can possibly be a 2 win player. I get why people are questioning it. Why trade away a decent prospect when our farm system is legitimately awful? I don’t quite know. I don’t think Salas is good but Dipoto is trying to put together a great bullpen and sometimes you need to find guys like Salas who have had some success and could be a nice 6th inning option if he regains his 2011 form.
Joe Smith is a signing I can’t complain about one bit. The Angels pen has given away so many games the past few years and they need to build a reliable pen and Smith is about as reliable as it gets. He doesn’t generate a ton of K’s and his walk rate isn’t great but he gets ground balls and his delivery makes for a unique guy to have out of the pen.
I’m just trying to make some sense of some of these moves. I think it’s clear the Angels are going all in for 2014-2016. I predict the Angels will sign Masahiro Tanaka, if he’s posted. If not, Matt Garza will be your newest Angel. I can even see a situation where both are signed. I’m all for getting 2 legit arms in the rotation. Garza is a slightly above league average starter, which is what the Angels need. He’ll be overpaid. Who cares at this point. Tanaka will be well worth whatever he gets paid in my opinion. A young clone of Hiroki Kuroda sounds like a fantastic pitcher to me.
I’ll be very interested to see the next stage of this offseason. If they go cheap on pitching, I’ll be more confused than ever as a fan. I’ll be crossing my fingers the next few weeks.