It’s generally true that every team in baseball has enough in their farm system to acquire almost any player in baseball, if they were willing to go really nuts. There are exceptions that should jump out at you like a freight train – for example, there are teams out there that could offer up their entire roster and farm system for Mike Trout, and the Angels might rebuff them.
But, outside of those kinds of situations, it’s almost never true to say that a team looking for an upgrade at the July 31 Trade Deadline absolutely cannot possibly acquire a particular available player.
This is relevant to those very Angels, by the way, as they are among the most frequently cited teams in trade rumors right now, given their standing (four games out in the AL West, and currently holding the first Wild Card spot) and their various roster needs. Unfortunately, the Angels are routinely described as having one of the thinnest farm systems in baseball, making their acquisition hopes a bit tenuous.
That brings us to Ken Rosenthal’s latest, which has the Angels interested in Jason Hammel, whom the Cubs are expected to trade in the coming weeks (even as soon as next week). The Angels do have a rotation need, and Hammel seems like a pretty good fit.
… but do they have enough to get him?
Well, the answer has to be yes, given all I said above. The better question, I think, is whether they’re a good fit for what the Cubs would like in return (presumably upper level prospects – starting pitcher, outfield bat, or catcher).
On the prospect side, it’s a thin, thin story. The Angels’ consensus top prospect, Taylor Lindsey, is a 22-year-old second baseman at AAA who did not make most top 100 lists. Their top pitching prospect, R.J. Alvarez, is dominating at AA … but he’s 23 and he’s a reliever. Their top starting pitching prospect coming into the season, Mark Sappington, is currently getting blasted at High-A. And he’s 23, also.
On the big league roster, one guy that jumps out to me as a really interesting piece for the Cubs is right fielder Kole Calhoun. At 26 and pre-arb, Calhoun could be an outfield fit for the Cubs for several years (particularly as a bridge to some of the coming prospects), and he offers quite a bit of offensive production from the left side for a guy that has been relegated to a somewhat complementary role with the Angels (although he’s heated up lately, and is playing more regularly). It’s not clear whether the Angels would want to rob Peter to pay Paul by losing Calhoun to upgrade the rotation, but I do like what he brings: a career .270/.333/.447 line with a 119 wRC+, 8.9% BB rate, 19.5% K rate, and average defense. There could be some power upside, too, as his ISO has been climbing over the past three years (and hasn’t yet reached his minor league levels). Let’s call him a sneaky good target, not unlike what the Cubs got last year for Scott Feldman in Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop.
Long story short: I do find Calhoun an intriguing piece for the Cubs on a Hammel trade, but I’m not sure that they can’t do better out there with another trade partner (and I’m not sure the Angels would move Calhoun right now anyway). We’ll see if any other lower level prospect names emerge in these Angels rumors.
(Incidental Hammel trade aside: last week, I mentioned that, if the rotation held, Jason Hammel was due to pitch on July 2, which is the anniversary of the Feldman trade, and the day on which the IFA market opens up (and a lot of trades happen). It’s not at all implausible that Hammel could be traded on that day. And, as Arizona Phil adroitly points out, because Tsuyoshi Wada was added to the 40-man and optioned to the minors on June 22, the first day he could be recalled to the Cubs is … July 2 (have to wait 10 days before recalling an optioned player unless it’s to replace an injury). Is that just a coincidence? Well, probably not. That’s not to say that the Cubs already know that Hammel will be traded on July 2. It’s just that they’ve probably made sure to cover their bases in case he is.)