Once again, the Los Angeles Angels have come out of nowhere to land the biggest prize on the free agent market.
One year after signing Albert Pujols to a monster contract, the Angels pulled off another stunner when they signed Josh Hamilton to a 5-year, $125 million deal. Hamilton, widely considered the biggest bat on the free agent market, gives Los Angeles arguably the best Murderer’s Row in all of baseball and just might make the Angels the new favorites in the American League.
Hamilton joins Mike Trout, Vernon Wells, Mark Trumbo, Peter Bourjos, and Kendrys Morales in what looks to be the most crowded outfield in all of baseball, opening up the possibility that the Angels may be open to a trade for some pitching.
Trout, who was runner-up for the MVP award last season, is obviously not going anywhere, while Morales seems entrenched as the team’s designated hitter. As for Wells, very few teams will be lining up to trade for an outfielder who has a .258 on-base percentage over the last two seasons and still has $42 million remaining on his contract. That leaves Trumbo and Bourjos as the most likely candidates for a trade.
On the surface, Trumbo’s 61 home runs over the past two seasons makes him look like one of the best young power bats in the game. But power is the only thing that Trumbo brings to the table at present time, as he is a low-walk, high-strikeout player who contributes little with his glove in the outfield. Trumbo would probably be more valuable as a first baseman, but Pujols’ presence in Los Angeles ensures that position will not be an option with the Angels for years to come.
Bourjos has no such issues with the glove, as many of the advanced metrics consider him to be one of the best defensive outfielders in all of baseball. The problem with Bourjos is that he is basically a speedier version of Trumbo at the plate, meaning his greatest value to the team would be as a centerfielder. Unfortunately for him, the Angels already have an MVP candidate roaming centerfield for the foreseeable future.
Neither Trumbo nor Bourjos has reached arbitration years, meaning that salary will not be an issue for any team looking to make a deal. This in turn increases their trade value to the Angels, since both players provide MLB-quality production for pennies on the dollar.
The Angels have been one of the busiest teams in baseball this offseason, having overhauled their starting pitching rotation prior to signing Hamilton. Do not be surprised if they make another deal, since they have two low-cost outfielders and only one available spot in the lineup.