The Los Angeles Angels are trying to acquire an everyday left fielder
The Angels are currently set to go into this season with 33-year-old Daniel Nava as their starting left fielder, joining the 2014 Red Sox, the 2011 Pawtucket Red Sox and the 2007 Chico Outlaws as the only teams who can say that. Although Nava is smashing in spring training, his PECOTA projection (1.5 WARP) and his 2015 output (Zero.Zip WARP) have a little more authority than his .500/.619/.719 Cactus League line. As a result, the Angels are reportedly looking for an everyday left fielder to replace him.
The problem is on the calendar: With just two weeks before Opening Day, it’s a bad time to be looking for almost anything, and the free agent market is currently bereft of everyday left fielders—unsurprisingly. Granted, there are some free agent outfielders out there: Grady Sizemore and Nate McLouth are still available to be signed, but just as the calendar shows that today is March 24th, it also shows that it’s 2016. Neither is any longer what the Angels need.
So a trade? Not if the other team is asking for prospects, as the other team usually does. Their farm system is a bit barren at the moment. If the Angels are planning on picking up a left fielder via trade, then they’d probably have to deal one of their major-league assets, and the depth chart is pretty much shallow all around the field. (Craig Gentry and Cliff Pennington combine to back up seven of the eight positions on the diamond.) That’s the bind: The timing is bad, the free agent market is thin, and they don’t really have the assets to acquire the left fielder that they want. The Angels are probably going to have to stick with Daniel Nava in left field and hope that his spring success can somehow translate into positive production in the regular season.
Atlanta Braves were willing to pay over $100 million for Justin Upton
The Atlanta Braves are currently in the midst of a rebuild that probably won’t see them emerge as serious contenders again until at least 2017, and more likely 2018. Normally, this wouldn’t be the time to make a big splash in free agency, but apparently the Braves were ready to do so in an effort to bring Justin Upton back to Atlanta. According to Jon Heyman, the Braves were prepared to offer Upton upwards of $100 million and up to a six-year deal.
The Braves figured that they would be outbid by other teams—and they eventually were by the Tigers, who will be paying Upton $132.75 million over the next six years—so Atlanta never really made a formal bid. Still, it’s a bit odd to see a team in Atlanta’s position trying to splash some cash on a marquee free agent at this point of their rebuild.
But Upton is only 28, and he could stabilize a corner spot and the middle of a lineup well into the future—even 2018, when the Braves should be good again. With their move to SunTrust Park next year, the Braves could use him as a valuable marketing tool for the new ballpark. However, the losing situation that the Braves figure to be in for the next couple of years wouldn’t be ideal for a player who’s surely hoping to latch onto a win-now situation at this point—Upton hasn’t played in an LCS since he was 19, and he’s never been in, let alone won, a World Series. Plus, he seemed likely to—and did—get more money elsewhere.
Trevor Rosenthal expresses a desire to become a starter
Trevor Rosenthal has proven himself as one of baseball’s most reliable closers, as he’s picked up 45-plus saves in each of his past two seasons as the closer for the Cardinals. He racked up a gaudy K/9 number of 10.9 in 2015 and finished the season with a 2.10 ERA, which clearly puts him in the top tier when it comes to closers. However, Rosenthal has expressed a desire to go from ending games to starting them.
According to Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Rosenthal said that he’d like an opportunity to become a starter “sooner rather than later.” For what it’s worth, Rosenthal does have experience as a starting pitcher at the minor-league level. In 2011, he started 22 games at A-ball, then started 11 more in 2012 at Double-A, and his final experience as a starter came in Triple-A later that season, when he started three games. That’s the extent of his experience as a starter as a professional, as he’s never taken on the role in the majors.
It doesn’t look like he’ll be doing it anytime soon, either. The Cardinals’ rotation figures to be pretty solid for the foreseeable future, and there are plenty of potential starters in their system who could join the rotation before the Cardinals would consider turning their elite closer into a possible starter. So, it appears that Rosenthal would have to be extremely patient if he really wanted to become a starter. Fortunately, in the same report Rosenthal also made sure to note that he enjoys his role as a closer. Considering the success that he’s had in the role—and considering that he is essentially a two-pitch pitcher—it’s easy to see why.
Thank you for reading
This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus. Subscriptions support ongoing public baseball research and analysis in an increasingly proprietary environment.Subscribe now