Pitching talent comes Halos' way in 2 deals

Heaney, Watson sent out for promising young power arms

July 31st, 2021

ANAHEIM -- Though the Angels traded veterans Andrew Heaney and Tony Watson prior to Friday’s Trade Deadline, general manager Perry Minasian didn’t view the club as being in "sell" mode, as he believes the Angels still have pieces to compete this season and were able to improve their future outlook by acquiring five pitchers in the two deals. 

Notably, the Angels hung on to closer Raisel Iglesias and right-hander Alex Cobb, who were viewed as their two biggest trade chips due to their being two of the club’s most consistent pitchers this season. But the Angels didn’t want to start a full teardown just yet, especially with Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon and Jared Walsh expected to return to the lineup in the coming weeks. They could also look to extend Iglesias and/or Cobb this offseason. And they made a significant move with their rotation, promoting No. 2 prospect Reid Detmers to replace Heaney and start on Sunday against the A’s in his Major League debut. 

"We went into this Trade Deadline not looking to move players, we were looking for opportunities," Minasian said. "And with the pipeline, we felt these were two deals that made the organization better. Andrew Heaney was here seven years and he gave everything he had to this organization. Tony Watson was here for a short period of time, but he had a huge effect on this clubhouse. We were able to acquire what we were able to acquire and open a spot for Reid Detmers."

Yankees get: LHP Andrew Heaney
Angels get: RHPs Janson Junk, Elvis Peguero

Giants get: LHP Tony Watson
Angels get: LHP Sam Selman, RHPs Ivan Armstrong and Jose Marte

It marks an end of a seven-year run with the Angels for Heaney, who was one of the longest-tenured players on the club along with superstar Mike Trout. Heaney, 30, has a 5.27 ERA with 113 strikeouts, 31 walks and 16 homers allowed in 94 innings this season. In his seven years with the Angels, he went 30-33 in 102 starts with a 4.51 ERA and 593 strikeouts in 569 1/3 innings and the club never made the postseason.

“Andrew’s been here a while and he’s gone through some not great times,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “Although, watching him pitch -- and I told him this personally -- I think he has one of the best left-handed arms in the league. So I’m eager for his success there. Of course, he’ll be missed.” 

But in parting with Heaney, the Angels received two talented pitchers in Junk and Peguero, who are both having strong seasons at Double-A.

Junk, 25, was ranked as the Yankees' No. 27 prospect by MLB Pipeline, and he has a 1.78 ERA with 68 strikeouts, 20 walks and six homers allowed in 65 2/3 innings (14 appearances, 12 starts) this season. His fastball sits around 92-94 mph and can touch 97 mph, while his low-80s slider has led to his improvement this season. He also possesses a curveball and changeup and mostly uses those pitches against lefties, but his slider is his best secondary offering.

Peguero started the season at High-A Hudson Valley, but he has excelled at both levels this season. After the 24-year-old posted a 2.51 ERA with 40 strikeouts in 32 1/3 innings, he was promoted to Double-A Somerset, where he had a 1.50 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 12 innings. But this has been his best year, as he has a career 4.63 ERA in five Minor League seasons after signing as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2015.

Watson, meanwhile, was signed to a one-year deal worth $1 million shortly before the start of the season and posted a 4.64 ERA with 25 strikeouts in 33 innings with the Angels. The Angels appeared to do well in its deal with San Francisco, getting three pitchers in return for the veteran.

"We were not looking to trade Tony Watson," Minasian said. "He's been solid in our bullpen. But that being said, we were able to acquire three arms. And Sam Selman will be here tomorrow. And the two Minor League arms are power arms we couldn't pass up." 

Selman, 30, has Major League experience with a 4.06 ERA in parts of three seasons with the Giants, including a 4.50 ERA with eight strikeouts in eight innings this year. He also recorded a 4.03 ERA with 24 strikeouts in 22 1/3 innings at Triple-A Sacramento this season. He still has Minor League options this year and next season, which means he can be sent freely to and from the Minor Leagues without having to be placed on waivers. He’s also under team control through 2025.

Marte, 25, has had a solid year between High-A Eugene and Double-A Richmond, posting a 2.79 ERA with 50 strikeouts in 29 innings. He was a starter early in his career, but he has been used in relief this season.

Armstrong, 21, is the youngest of the group, but he has a 1.88 ERA with 43 strikeouts in 38 1/3 innings at Low-A. Like Marte, he was a starter to open his Minor League career, but he has now been converted to a reliever.

“You just keep building up this cache of good arms and eventually it's gonna come out the other end,” Maddon said. “I'm happy about that. I didn't expect to lose Tony and I thought it was more likely that we would lose Andrew. But the take was pretty good from that, also, and I've heard these kids have big fastballs. And we didn't lose Iggy, and that's pretty big."