On Thursday, a report from MLBTradeRumors says that the Los Angeles Angels could be in search of a left-handed relief pitcher to supplement their bullpen, due to the injury troubles of Sean Burnett and a lack of many other appealing options.
With that being said, it seems like the Indians could be a logical trade partner for the Angels and GM Jerry DiPoto. Call it a match made in heaven. (My colleagues strongly approve of this pun.)
The Indians have no shortage of southpaw relievers, so dealing one to a team in need of one (while also helping fix their current logjam out lefties) would be far from a bad idea. Being able to clear a 40-man roster spot certainly helps too.
The Tribe would be smart to keep current major league contributors like Marc Rzepczynski and Josh Outman, as well as minor leaguer Kyle Crockett. But even after those three, there are still a pair of intriguing options for other teams — like the Angels — to consider.
The first is Scott Barnes. Acquired from the Giants for Ryan Garko in 2009, the 26-year old Barnes is an intriguing arm. He hasn’t posted superstar numbers over his major league career (5.20 ERA in 27 2/3 career innings), but he’s posted solid minor league numbers (4.14 ERA in 524 1/3 innings), knows how to miss bats, and has average control.
This season for AAA Columbus, Barnes has a 3.92 ERA in 20 2/3 innings, adding 25 strikeouts and 9 walks. He probably won’t get many more chances in Cleveland as a result of the Indians’ solid collection of bullpen depth, but he certainly deserves a chance to strut his stuff elsewhere.
In addition to Barnes is Nick Hagadone. Part of the well-known Victor Martinez trade (also in 2009), Hagadone was a supplemental first-round pick of the Red Sox in 2007. The 28-year old native of Idaho comes with prospect pedigree as well, being ranked in 2010 as the 44th-best prospect in baseball by Baseball America and the 91st-best prospect by Baseball Prospectus.
Hagadone, too, hasn’t been amazing in his brief major league time (5.59 ERA in 67 2/3 innings across 3 big league seasons). But like Barnes, he has terrific minor league stats (2.78 ERA in 297 1/3 innings) and an extreme talent for striking out hitters (he has a career K/9 rate of 10.7 in the minors). His control can be shaky at times (and has been as a major leaguer), but it’s been decent in the minor leagues.
It’s worth noting that Hagadone has held the Angels to a collective .143/.250/.143 line in his career, but that’s clearly a ridiculously small sample size. However, though it hasn’t been much of an issue in the minors, Hagadone has allowed 8 home runs during his short time in an Indians uniform, which probably wouldn’t be as much of an issue if he pitched in the friendly confines in Angel Stadium of Anaheim.
For Columbus in 2014, Hagadone has posted a 3.32 ERA in 21 2/3 innings, striking out a whopping 32 batters while walking 9 in that time. He probably has more upside than Barnes and would appear to be a better fit for the Angels.
So…what could the Indians ask for in exchange for either of these southpaws?
Conventional wisdom would tell you not to expect too much, but it’s still possible that the Tribe could get an intriguing prospect.
The Angels’ system is known for being one of the weaker ones in major league baseball, but what the organization has plenty of is first basemen. For that reason, perhaps first baseman Michael Snyder could be a fit. He’s buried on the Angels’ organizational depth chart but has impressive power, hitting 25 long balls for the team’s high-A affiliate last season, providing a .280/.337/.506 slash line in the process. He’s struggled in his first taste of AA this season, but the potential for power and on-base skills are there. It’s also no secret that the Indians don’t have much minor league depth as far as corner infielders are concerned, so maybe Tucker could be the guy. Another good fit could be Cal Towey, who hit an astonishing .317/.492/.543 in the rookie-level Pioneer League last season and walked 67 times in 70 games. He’s already 23, so his clock is ticking, but he’s an extremely productive hitter and can play third base, the outfield, and has been apparently putting in work behind the plate as well. There’s nothing quite like versatility, and Towey certainly provides that. Towey is ineligible to be traded until after this year’s draft because he was drafted last season, but that shouldn’t be too much of an issue with the draft just days away.
There are certainly sexier left-handed relievers on the market than Scott Barnes and Nick Hagadone, but a team like the Angels could look to use the potential that the Indians don’t currently have a need for — while avoiding a higher price tag.
The Angels are looking for left-handed relievers. The Indians have left-handed relievers. It’s that simple.
Let’s get it done.