The Los Angeles Angels are one of many teams still in hot pursuit of an American League Wild Card berth, and are one of the more surprising teams still in the race. At 69-65, they sit just one game back of the Minnesota Twins for the second spot, and two games behind the New York Yankees. They stayed in contention mostly thanks to their reliable starting pitching. Unfortunately, they rank near the bottom of the league in almost every major offensive statistic.
Angels Complete Two Moves to get Justin Upton
Nevertheless, the Angels are dead-set on making it back to the postseason this year, and they may have just acquired the weapon that will help them do just that. On Thursday, the Angles completed two moves; first, they dealt outfielder Cameron Maybin to the Houston Astros in exchange for cash considerations. However, that move was really about making room on the roster. Maybin had been placed on revocable waivers, and the Astros won the claim for him. They will pay the remainder of his salary.
Shortly after the Maybin deal became final, the Angels finalized a deal to bring Justin Upton out west. The Detroit Tigers will also send some cash, and will get pitching prospect Grayson Long and a lower-level player-to-be-named-later in return.
Astros won a claim of Maybin on revocable waivers. They will pay the rest of his $9 million salary for this year. No other players involved.
Justin Upton Heading to Los Angeles Angels
Upton represents a clear, significant upgrade over Maybin. While the now-former Angel does have 29 steals on the year, he owns a meager .235/.333/.351 slash line. The 10-year veteran is a career .256 hitter, and his best days are likely behind him. He does give the Astros veteran depth in the outfield, however, and could supplant Derek Fisher in left field. Fisher is hitting just .213 on the year, and doesn’t provide the speed threat that Maybin does.
Upton, also a 10-year veteran, is having one of the best seasons of his career. He’s slugged 28 home runs, and is on pace to easily surpass his career high of 31, which he’s reached twice. He’s not the threat to steal that Maybin is, but does still have 10 steals on the year. More than anything, however, his .904 OPS towers over Maybin’s .684 figure. That, plus his 5.0 WAR figure, should make him capable of changing what the Angels are capable of at the plate. Hitting in a lineup that already features Mike Trout, Upton could be in for big things with Los Angeles.
Tigers get Prospect in Return
The Tigers are one of the few American League teams not still in contention for the postseason. They’re 11 games back of the Twins, and have realized that the playoffs are a lost cause. Instead, it seems they’ve started the process of rebuilding. Long stood as the Angels eighth-best prospect. They selected him in the third round of the 2015 Draft, and he’s since collected 217 strikeouts in 218.1 minor league innings.
This season, playing mostly at the Double-A level, he owns a 2.52 ERA and 125 punchouts. At 6’5” and 230 pounds, he certainly looks like a major league pitcher. If his development continues as it has, he could be a solid back-end starter or middle-reliever one day.
All-in-all, it seems like the Angels got off light by only having to give up Long and a PTBNL, especially if Upton propels them to a Wild Card spot. However, we’ll only truly know once we see Long pitch in the majors.