It was the other trade attached to the big three-team Mookie Betts deal: once that trade was complete, Joc Pederson and Ross Stripling were headed to the Anaheim Angels for some prospects.
Except, unlike the eventually completed Betts trade, the deal with the Angels never happened. For reasons he would not further explain, Angels’ owner Arte Moreno pulled the plug on the deal (got sick of waiting?), and now the Angels are left in the market for another starting pitcher.
As for the pitching, the Angels still have their sights set on top-of-the-rotation pitchers, but they are likely going to have to wait until midseason to see which pitchers might be available on the trade market.
“We have the financial flexibility at starting pitcher,” Moreno said. “We’re looking for a pitcher who can substantially help us, not a No. 4 or No. 5.”
With free agency all but complete, there is not an impact starter to be had on that particular market, and you almost certainly aren’t going to find a front-of-the-rotation type available for trade in Spring Training. So, midseason it is. Fair enough.
… though I suppose it’s worth pointing out that, although Stripling, 30, has been very good in the results department (3.51 career ERA), he’s a swing guy who pitched only 90.2 innings last year. I’m not sure he was a front-of-the-rotation type, so I kinda do wonder if the Angels would still be happy to add a decent starter in trade if the opportunity comes up.
To that point, I would mention that the Cubs are still projected to enter the season tracking above the luxury tax – a place I’m certain they’d rather not be, lest they be pressured to sell off contracts at midseason – and they have a couple starting pitchers who make real money that they could theoretically deal: Jose Quintana ($11.5 million) and Tyler Chatwood ($13 million). Each is a free agent after this season, each is well known to Angels manager Joe Maddon, and each would pretty clearly slide right into the Angels’ rotation as Stripling would have.
The big question, obviously, is whether the Cubs would want to part with starting pitching at this point. They have a lot of starting pitching options, to be sure, but if you move Quintana, for example, then you are requiring two of Chatwood, Alec Mills, Adbert Alzolay, Jharel Cotton, and Colin Rea to be in your Opening Day rotation. That’s, uh, a lot of risk. Upside, sure, but risk.
The other question is whether the trade would be worth it. You could probably get the Angels to take on all of Quintana’s deal – he’s easily, easily worth a one-year, $11.5 million contract – but there’s no way you’re moving Chatwood without eating substantial money. And in either case, I really don’t think you’re getting a ton in return other than the salary savings, which sucks. That’s the reality of trying to trade these types of guys to save payroll space at this time of year.
I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a conversation or two – especially if the Angels were to suffer a pitching injury in the Spring – but trades right now are rare. I guess I just get stuck on the idea that, since I fully believe the Cubs *will* get under the luxury tax this year, I really don’t want to see them enter the season over the tax, forcing them to dump at the deadline no matter what. Because, again: what if the Cubs are competitive? Why would you want to risk putting yourself in that no-win position in July?