TEMPE, Ariz. -- It's hard to predict where the Angels might be when the non-waiver Trade Deadline rolls around on July 31.They have the pieces to be surprise contenders if everything breaks right, but they're also vulnerable to injuries in their rotation and will face tough competition from the reloaded
TEMPE, Ariz. -- It's hard to predict where the Angels might be when the non-waiver Trade Deadline rolls around on July 31.
They have the pieces to be surprise contenders if everything breaks right, but they're also vulnerable to injuries in their rotation and will face tough competition from the reloaded Astros, Mariners and Rangers in the American League West.
Last year, the Angels' thin pitching depth was exposed when they lost left-hander Andrew Heaney and ace right-hander Garrett Richards -- their top two starters -- to elbow ligament tears within the first two months of the season. The Angels didn't have enough depth to absorb those two big hits, and by May 12, they found themselves eight games below .500.
Richards avoided Tommy John surgery by receiving an injection of stem cells in his elbow and is now healthy, and the Angels tried to deepen their pitching staff by adding Yusmeiro Petit, Bud Norris, John Lamb, Jose Campos and Brooks Pounders over the offseason. While the Halos will also have prospects Alex Meyer and Nate Smith at Triple-A Salt Lake, they'll still be in trouble if they lose any of their top starters -- Richards, Matthew Shoemaker, Tyler Skaggs, Ricky Nolasco -- for an extended period of time.
If the Angels are still in the hunt at the Trade Deadline, they'll be hard pressed to fill any significant holes via trade because their farm system is not very fertile and does not feature any players who cracked MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list. If they're out of the race, the Angels will likely look to replenish their system by becoming sellers, as they did last year when they dealt left-hander Hector Santiago and relievers Joe Smith and Noel Salas.
The Angels brought in several players over the winter who are slated to hit free agency at the end of the season, including second baseman Danny Espinosa, left fielder Cameron Maybin, outfielder Ben Revere, and right-handers Jesse Chavez and Andrew Bailey. Third baseman Yunel Escobar is entering the final year of his contract. Righties Huston Street and Nolasco, who both have options for 2018, are also potential free agents.
If any of their soon-to-be free agents have value on the trade market, the Angels could be active leading up to the Trade Deadline. A lot can happen between now and the end of July, though.
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com.