Meet the Sellers: If the Angels fall out of contention, which team is ready for Sho-time?

Photo credit:© Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Evan Stack
11 months ago
One of my favourite baseball jokes is a Tweet from Blue Jays fan Matt English that reads something along the lines of “Shohei Ohtani did something that only Tungsten Arm O’Doyle has ever done” followed by a statement pointing out that the Angels lost the game 8-3.
While it may be a funny joke, it’s been the recent reality for the Los Angeles Angels. The tale seemingly as old as time is how much the Halos have underperformed despite having two of the greatest MLB players of all time, and this year looks well on its way to another playoff-less season.
2023 actually got off to a solid start in Anaheim. They were seeing playoffs for the first time since 2014, as the team sat in a Wild Card spot as late as June 27th with a 44-37 record. Sadly, the injury bug took a depleting bite to the Angels’ roster, with Mike Trout being the most substantial hit to the team. Trout suffered a wrist fracture on July 3rd and was set to miss four to eight weeks, and teammate Anthony Rendon hit the IL (again) last week for a shin contusion. Even Ohtani exited a start recently for a finger issue, but he didn’t need to miss any extended time.
While Ohtani generates a lot of interest, the Angels have quite a few players that could be dealt at the deadline. It’s not just because of convenient contracts – some of these guys are having productive seasons. The Blue Jays and the Angels have very minimal trade history, but many are hoping that changes over the coming days.

Notable trade history with the Angels

January 22, 2011: Traded Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera to Toronto in exchange for Vernon Wells.
December 3, 2011: Traded Jeff Mathis to Toronto in exchange for Brad Mills.

Potential Acquisitions

Shohei Ohtani

It’s no secret that Ohtani is about to get the most money ever obtained by a free agent. What Ohtani is doing is – in the most respectful way – unfair. Pitching and hitting at an All-Star level is an absolute rarity, and he fully deserves every penny he gets this offseason.
At the plate, Ohtani is batting .306/.397/1.075 with 35 home runs, 76 RBIs, and 7 triples. His Baseball Reference page is littered with italicized font, indicating that he leads the league in those categories. On the mound, he has a 3.50 ERA through 18 starts with a 11.9 K/9. The Angels are 49-48 at the moment and 5 games back of a Wild Card spot. They’re sitting on the fine line of buyer or seller, and it’s prompted the Angels to hold off on any Ohtani decision until “24-48 hours before the Aug. 1 deadline.” per reports.
The questions surrounding this guy are aplenty: How much should teams include in a trade package if they only want him as a rental? If the Blue Jays are in play, how depleted is Ross Atkins willing to make the farm system? Last year, the Angels were firm on not trading Ohtani – how much of that is still the case?
Arte Moreno can get a huge return on a trade if he wants to pull the trigger on one. I’d say it’s probably the best option he has. Is he really willing to risk letting Ohtani walk away in the offseason for nothing and go play for the Dodgers? This past offseason’s starting pitching class included Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon amongst others, and the Angels walked away with Tyler Anderson as their big signing. If they won’t pay other elite players, why would Ohtani want to stay there?

Hunter Renfroe

Taking a look at Renfroe’s yearly stats and then looking at how much he’s been traded certainly makes me scratch my head. He’s played for a different team in each of the last five seasons with three of those switches coming by trade. Renfroe has hit at least 26 home runs in each of the last five full seasons he has played, and he’s well on his way to making it six.
In 2023, Renfroe played in 89 games and posted 15 home runs and 42 RBIs with a .244 batting average and .741 OPS. Most of his numbers are closer to average, but the home run numbers are hard to ignore considering he would tie for second on the Blue Jays in homers. The Blue Jays are in the market for a right-handed power bat, and Renfroe would fulfill that, however, it will be interesting to see how the Jays work with their outfield playing time considering Renfroe is an everyday player.
Just doing a quick Twitter search of his name, Angels fans are ready to see him leave. He is in his final year of arbitration this season, so he will enter free agency for the first time at the conclusion of this year. Even if it isn’t the Blue Jays, I think it’s a pretty good possibility Renfroe is moved by the trade deadline.

Brandon Drury

Blue Jays legend Brandon Drury, that is.
After his release from Toronto in 2020, Drury has found plenty of success with multiple teams, and good on him for that. In fact, last season, he was quite a popular name at the trade deadline and found himself playing in the ALCS with the San Diego Padres to conclude the year. Now, he is putting up another solid season as a member of the Angels, and he may be playing his way to another competing franchise by the end of this season.
Although on the 10-day IL right now, Drury has played in 75 games and is slashing .277/.322/.822 with 14 home runs and 45 RBIs. The downside to his splits is that Drury doesn’t hit lefty pitching as well as he does righties by a significant margin, but the overall numbers still show that he is a productive hitter in the majors. Furthermore, he offers tremendous defensive flexibility with experience in all infield spots and some work in the outfield.
Drury is in the first year of a two-year, $17 million deal, so acquiring him would likely keep him around for another year. However, if he gives you the production he’s shown over the last three seasons, I don’t see any issue with that.

Gio Urshela

Like Drury, Urshela is also a former Jay, however, his time up north was only for 19 games in 2018. He draws another comparison to Drury in that he has unleashed a higher level of production since leaving Toronto. Urshela put his name on the map in 2019 with an All-Star-level season in the Bronx. He hit 21 homers and 74 RBIs with a .889 slugging and a 3.8 WAR. Since then, he’s been traded a couple of times, but is primed to enter free agency after this season with multiple high-yielding seasons under his belt.
Through 62 games this season, Urshela is batting .299/.329/.703 with 2 home runs and 24 RBIs. The power is down notably, but even a near-.300 average bat is welcome on almost any competitor at this time of year. Urshela is another guy who can play multiple positions in the field, although his primary spots (1B, 3B, and SS) are positions that Toronto has filled right now.
Unfortunately, Urshela is on the 60-day IL with a left pelvis fracture (retroactive to June 16th), but given he’s able to fully recover, there’s value to having Urshela on the roster for September baseball. Perhaps the injury coupled with the one-year, $8.4 million deal he’s on currently, will lower his price significantly.

Carlos Estevez

After spending six years in Colorado, Estevez signed a two-year, $13.5 million deal as a free agent with the Angels this past offseason. It’s worked out exceptionally well for him, as he’s posted a 2.13 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, and a 10.7 K/9 through 39 appearances this season. Not only did he earn his first career All-Star game nod this year, but his 21 saves rank 5th-best in the American League.
Estevez’ primarily works with his fastball and slider, with the former averaging 97 mph and allowing only a dwarf .255 slugging percentage. He is on a two-year deal as I mentioned, but he’s only been trending upward over his last few seasons, and he’d be another tremendous weapon in Toronto’s bullpen at the end of this year and next season as well.

Aaron Loup

Please refer to this article for any Blue Jays-Angels spots on Immaculate Grid, because we have another old friend. Loup is now in his 12th MLB season, and he spent his first seven of them with the Blue Jays.
2023 with the Angels has not been good for Loup thus far. Through 30 games, he owns a 5.00 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 8.7 K/9 and a 10.3 H/9. You might be wondering as to why he is on this list due to those statistics, but this season has been abnormal compared to how Loup has been over the past few seasons. Save for a poor outing two weeks ago against the Dodgers, Loup has only allowed two earned runs through June and July.
Loup has a club option for 2024, so acquiring him would put it in Toronto’s hands if they want to keep him for another year or not. This isn’t the prettiest addition that Toronto could make, but it’d be another lefty reliever and a familiar face for the team.

Matt Moore

A 12-year veteran, Moore has become an effective reliever after serving as a starter for the majority of his career. As a member of the Rangers last season, Moore had a sub-2.00 ERA in 63 appearances, and he’s proving this year that 2022 was no fluke.
Moore just returned from the IL last week, but he’s still made 25 appearances this season with a 2.25 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, and 8.0 K/9. While the strikeouts are down just a hair from last season, so are the walks and the hits, which is a trade I’m sure he’ll make any day. He signed a one-year, $7.55 million deal with the Angels before this season, so this would surely be a cheaper deal for the Blue Jays to make.



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