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Should the Angels buy, sell, or stay at the MLB trade deadline?

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The Angels have Mike Trout. They have Andrelton Simmons. And they’re just 2½ games out of the postseason chase.

Boston Red Sox v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Angels are 2½ games behind the second wild card. No, I’m not sure how that happened, either. They have Mike Trout back. They have Andrelton Simmons, who’s enjoying the best offensive season of his career. They have a strong bullpen, led by Bud Norris. They have ...

My stars, I do believe that’s it. That’s everything going right for the Angels. Here, you look. It’s Trout, Simmons, and the bullpen, and I keep looking at their Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs page to see what I’ve missed. The Angels have broken me.

Should they improve the team with a trade, then? Or should they take advantage of the market for relievers and raise the white flag? We’ll investigate

The team

The Angels, who have Mike Trout, Andrelton Simmons, and a solid bullpen. And that’s about it. I can’t get over that. How are they even here?

Their record

49-51, as of Monday morning.

Their expected record based on runs scored and runs allowed

48-52, so we can’t blame the luck gremlins for propping them up, at least.

Their expected record according to BaseRuns

46-54, which aligns a little better with the Trout-Simmons-bullpen-bupkis construction.

(A definition of Base Runs can be found here.)

Games behind first place

They’re 17 games behind the Astros, and I’m surprised it’s even that close, really.

Games out of second wild card

They’re 2½ games behind the Royals and Rays, one game behind the Twins, and tied with the Mariners and Rangers.

Pending free agents

Ricky Nolasco ($13 million team option)
Cameron Maybin
Yunel Escobar
Jesse Chavez
Ben Revere
Cliff Pennington
Yusmeiro Petit
Bud Norris
David Hernandez

That’s a healthy chunk of the bullpen, but otherwise, whatever window they have isn’t closing.

Farm system rank before the season (Baseball America)

29th. Which is one spot higher than last season!

What it would take to contend next season

Mike Trout being Mike Trout, of course, but it would also take the Angels ...

  1. Finding reliable starting pitching
  2. Finding reliable hitters
  3. Getting a whole lot better at several different positions without spending a lot and without an enviable farm system.

Seems unlikely, and that’s coming from someone who was actually somewhat bullish on them this year.

Conclusion?

Sell. Do not fall for the bait. Do not get mesmerized by the shiny baubles and spinning disks. The second wild card is an illusion, and there’s absolutely no quick fix for a roster that’s only contending because of the struggles around the rest of the American League.

Selling would be a slap in the face of the players who are trying their best, of course, and that’s a consideration. It’s not good PR to sell when a team is within a couple games of the postseason, both inside and outside of the clubhouse.

On the other hand, with a farm system in need of reinforcements and a trio of pending free agent relievers who might pique the interest of other teams, there’s an easy decision to make. Get whatever prospects you can now. Find new relievers the same way you found these ones, while collecting desperately needed young players.

I’m guessing this isn’t what the Angels will do, though, and they’ll neither add nor sell. They will exist in deadline limbo, floating, floating, floating into the 2017 season.

But they should probably sell.