What will the Angels do with their surplus of hitters?

Jeff Gross

Three players, two spots, and a hole in the rotation. The next step seems obvious, but the details are fuzzy.

I'm not sure if the Angels will ever qualify for mystery-team status for the next ten years. They clearly have money to spend, and they shouldn't surprise anyone after the Albert Pujols signing.

But signing Josh Hamilton after refusing to top the Dodgers' offer for Zack Greinke? Well played, Arte. Back in the beginning of the offseason, Jerry Crasnick asked a bunch of front-office folks their guess as to where Hamilton would go. Their answers:

Milwaukee 6; Don't know 6; Texas 5; Philadelphia 1; Baltimore 1; San Francisco 1; Seattle 1; Kansas City 1.

Nope. Mystery team! The Angels had a full outfield and a rotation with a buncha holes, so if they had money to spend -- and they were saying it was going to be a quiet offseason -- it was going to go to a pitcher. Anibal Sanchez was going to get paid more than he was worth. Something like that.

Instead, the Angels signed the best/most expensive free agent on the market for the second straight season. There's no point in really analyzing the deal to death. You know what everyone will say about any 30-something signed to a big contract: It should help the team at first, and then it will hamper the team later. There's no need to stretch that into 1,000 words. The Angels really, really don't care about 2017 right now. And if you're an Angels fan, why should you? Live fast, die young, and leave a good-looking, well-compensated corpse, that's what I always say. For 2013, at least, the Angels' offense looks scary.

And crowded. Unless they're going to try the Mark Trumbo experiment at third again -- and they aren't -- the Angels will have the following players …

Peter Bourjos
Mark Trumbo
Kendrys Morales

… for the following spots …

OF
DH

The Angels can play Trout in center field, of course. If they don't want to DH him, that is. So It's not just Trumbo and Morales fighting for a DH spot. The Angels have options.

And they also have Garrett Richards in the rotation. If he falters, there's Jerome Williams. After that might be Barry Enright. Jo-Jo Reyes is in the organization. You can see where this is getting scary. While depth is a nice thing to have, it doesn't make any sense for the Angels to keep one of Bourjos/Trumbo/Morales on the bench if they can upgrade their rotation through a trade.

So who goes? The answer might surprise you! (HINT: MIKE TROUT FOR MATT MOORE AND EVAN LONGORIA)

Eh. Maybe not. The real trade candidates:

Peter Bourjos
Man, Michael Bourn keeps getting hosed. In a offseason that was already flush with free-agent center fielders, teams are also trading for center fielders to fill their outfield holes. Denard Span, Ben Revere, and Drew Stubbs were traded, and the Reds even traded for a center fielder who isn't a center fielder. Jacoby Ellsbury could even be on the block for the right price, and the same now goes for Bourjos.

Bourn's going to end up with the Marlins on a two-year deal, isn't he? I'll start my "Marlins trade Bourn" article now so it's in the can for July.

What could Bourjos fetch in a deal? It's worth noting that he was pretty awful last year, possibly because he couldn't shake a preseason plunking to his wrist in March. He might be the fastest human in baseball, but he also has a career .301 OBP, and it's not like he was known for getting on base in the minors, either.

But he might be the best outfielder in the game. He also might have the most trade value of the three because of that, and also because he's under team control through 2016.

Mark Trumbo
Trumbo is also under contract through 2016, so he would likely fetch a hefty return, too. He hit .306/.358/.608 in the first half of 2012, but then he slumped to .227/.271/.359 in the second half. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, with his .808 OPS just a tick over his career average. He's best suited for first base, though, where an .800 OPS isn't exactly ideal. There were rumors of a Dickey/Trumbo discussion, but Buster Olney says the Angels want to keep Trumbo. You know, just like there were rumors that the Angels were done for the offseason.

Kendrys Morales
Considering that he missed almost two years, Morales had a pretty sweet season, hitting 22 homers with a 121 OPS+. The switch-hitter got a little better as the season went on, too, trading some average for power.

The problem, though, is that he's probably not as valuable in a trade as either Bourjos or Trumbo, seeing as he's under contract for only two more seasons. He probably wouldn't bring a good starting pitcher back in a trade, even though he's as good of a hitter as Trumbo, so what would be the point of cashing in him? The return probably wouldn't be there.

If it's me, I trade Trumbo. He'll be arbitration-eligible next offseason, and he won't be the bargain he once was. He can hit dingers. But that's all he can do. If there's a team willing to give up a pitcher (or a prospect who can be flipped for one), that's probably the move to make. We'll see how the Angels play it, though. They might keep everyone around and sign Kyle Lohse just because they enjoy being the mystery team so danged much.

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