ST. PETERSBURG -- Four days after trading Gold Glove catcher Martin Maldonado to the Astros, the Angels continued to operate as sellers, shipping veteran second baseman Ian Kinsler and cash considerations to the Red Sox in exchange for pitching prospects Ty Buttrey and Williams Jerez on Monday night.General manager Billy
ST. PETERSBURG -- Four days after trading Gold Glove catcher Martin Maldonado to the Astros, the Angels continued to operate as sellers, shipping veteran second baseman Ian Kinsler and cash considerations to the Red Sox in exchange for pitching prospects Ty Buttrey and Williams Jerez on Monday night.
General manager Billy Eppler said the decision to trade Kinsler was a difficult one, as the 36-year-old veteran had endeared himself to many within the clubhouse with his gritty and hard-nosed style of play. Still, Eppler felt that the opportunity to add a pair of young, hard-throwing relievers who can potentially help the Angels soon was too good to pass up.
"It was a tough conversation," Eppler said on Monday night during a conference call with reporters. "He was very thankful for his time here. I told him that I really appreciated getting to know him. I really think the world of him. That was difficult, but we're excited about the players that we're getting back and the potential for their impact at some point here in the future. This was just a decision that was best for the organization at this time."
The Angels acquired Kinsler from the Tigers in December as part of a series of offseason roster improvements that they hoped would help spur them to their first postseason appearance since 2014. The acquisition of Kinsler, coupled with the retention of Justin Upton and the additions of Shohei Ohtani and Zack Cozart, seemed to put the Angels in position to contend, but an unrelenting crush of injuries ultimately hindered their competitiveness.
The Angels placed an MLB-high 22 players on the disabled list in the first half of the season and saw Garrett Richards, JC Ramirez, Cozart, Keynan Middleton and Blake Wood go down with season-ending injuries. They enter Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline one game over .500 at 54-53, 12 1/2 games behind the first-place Astros in the American League West and 9 1/2 games behind the Mariners for the second AL Wild Card spot.
Kinsler entered Monday posting career lows in batting average (.239) and OPS (.710), but he had recently started to heat up and compiled an .860 OPS in July. His departure will break up one of the best middle infields in baseball, as he had teamed up with fellow defensive wizard Andrelton Simmons to help the Angels turn an MLB-high 284 double plays this season.
Kinsler is owed $11 million in his final season before free agency. The Angels are sending $1.8 million to the Red Sox to cover the remaining $3.6 million of his 2018 salary, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal.
Kinsler is set to step in for the injured Dustin Pedroia at second base for Boston. The pair had been teammates at Arizona State, where Pedroia took over Kinsler's starting shortstop position in 2002. Kinsler then transferred to Missouri the following year.
"What he does on the baseball field, what he does in the clubhouse, there's a reason people gravitate to this guy," Eppler said. "I know I did, and I was only around him for less than a calendar year. We have to weigh the impact that he brings versus the potential impact and the duration of that impact on the players returning in the deal."
Buttrey was ranked as Boston's No. 19 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, lands at No. 27 on the Angels' list, and is "pretty darn closer to Major League ready," according to Eppler. The 25-year-old right-hander has gone 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP over 32 relief appearances with Triple-A Pawtucket this season and has struck out 64 while walking 14 over 44 innings.
"He's been dominating this season for them," Eppler said. "Averages 96 mph, he's up to 99 mph. His strong quality is the fastball, and our reports say [he has] a solid-average slider. Looks like a guy that has a lot of upside. He's young, he throws hard and he performs at the highest domestic level here besides the Major Leagues."
Jerez went 2-1 for Pawtucket with a 3.68 ERA and 1.38 WHIP across 33 bullpen outings. The 26-year-old left-hander was a second-round Draft choice as an outfielder in 2011 before switching to the mound in '14.
"He had an above-average performance, just like Ty, in Triple-A this year," Eppler said. "His fastball averages 95, he touches 100. Really like the characteristics of his fastball and average slider and what looks like an average to well-above-average changeup. It looks like there's some ceiling to him as well. We're hoping these guys eventually take that next step."
Kinsler's departure may create an opening for rookie David Fletcher to move to second base, his natural position. Fletcher, 24, has primarily played third base since making his MLB debut on June 13 and has impressed the Angels by batting .298 with a .742 OPS in 37 games.
"Have you seen that guy play? It seems like he can do anything," Eppler joked. "In all seriousness, he's played a lot of second base, so that is one of the things that we're kicking around right now."
Eppler wouldn't say who the Angels will call up to replace Kinsler on the roster, though infielder Kaleb Cowart was pulled in the first inning of Triple-A Salt Lake's game on Monday.
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.