Angels Pay Heavily But Get Talent Upgrade
November 19, 2015
By Mitch Chortkoff
A new season, a new general manager, new hopes.
That’s what was behind the Angels’ surprising trade last weekend which resulted in the acquisition of Andrelton Simmons, one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball.
The Angels traded Erick Aybar, a fixture on their team since 2008, and also gave their two best pitching prospects to the Atlanta Braves.
Why are they getting only one player and giving up three? Well, there’s an important reason. Simmons is signed through the 2020 season while Aybar can become a free agent after the upcoming one.
Simmons is 26 years old, Aybar is 31.
Actually the Angels are getting two players, the other a promising young catcher who’s unlikely to make the club next season.
“We’re excited in acquiring an impact shortstop and one who is signed through 2020 and fits our championship standards,” said general manager Billy Eppler, who has made his first trade since joining the Angels.
He previously was with the Yankees and had to deal with the retirement of Derek Jeter, so he has experience in replacing a club’s longtime shortstop.
The Angels gave up 22-year-old lefthanded pitcher Sean Newcomb and 23-year-old righthanded pitcher Chris Ellis. Both are likely to make the Braves’ 2016 roster after excelling in the Angels’ minor league system.
The Angels believe they’re a championship contender although they didn’t make the playoffs in the 2015 season. The Braves are rebuilding as they try to move closer to their former championship years. They lost 97 games last season.
The Angels’ marvelous duo of Mike Trout and Albert Pujols now has a premier helper in Simmons. And don’t forget that right fielder Cole Calhoun has just won his first Gold Glove.
Now they inherit Simmons’ contract which includes higher payments each season leading to $15 million in 2020.
Steve Bisheff, my longtime friend and an expert on Angels matters, answered my request for his evaluation of the trade.
“Simmons is a fabulous shortstop but it was a strange trade because the Angels gave up two top prospects without filling their current needs.
“Newcomb has a chance to be a No. 1 starter in a year or two and those are hard to find. It could still work out if the new GM can sign enough free agents to play third base, left field, catcher, maybe second base and some help in the bullpen but I doubt they have enough money to do all that.”