The Los Angeles Angels are still fighting for a playoff spot but recent events are slimming the chances of success. Sitting five games behind Oakland for the second Wild Card spot, Los Angeles needs a strong final two months of the season to overcome the deficit. They also need to leapfrog Cleaveland, Toronto, New York, and Seattle - a tall order.
With only 2 days left until the trade deadline passes, teams are scrambling to find trade partners to either bolster their playoff run or prepare for future seasons. Los Angeles has not made a move to indicate which direction they will lean. Three key events over the past two days may force their hand.
When a team acts as a buyer and completes a trade, they aren't only enhancing their team, they are also removing a potential target off of the board that could help other teams. The Oakland A's have strengthened their lineup and their bullpen, trading for all-star outfielder Starling Marte and veteran left-handed reliever Andrew Chafin. Those moves fill big needs in the A's roster while preventing other teams from adding those players. The pool of potential targets has dwindled.
The Yankees have added one of the other prized rental position players. A deal for Joey Gallo, all-star outfielder for the Texas Rangers, is nearing completion. A lineup featuring Gall, Stanton, and Judge - if healthy - will be one of the most feared in baseball. The trade leaves few premium bats left on the market. The most notable targets are Bryant, Rizzo, and Baez on the Cubs. There is a decent chance only Bryant will move, as the cubs have shown an interest in extending Rizzo and Baez.
The task of leapfrogging the Yankees and A's is now harder for the Angles. But I have only listed two of the key events that may force the team to enter sell mode. While New York and Oakland added to their team, Los Angeles has weakened due to the Jared Walsh injury.
Jared Walsh is in the midst of a breakout season. The All-Star first baseman is slashing .266/.320/.516 with 22 home runs. Unfortunately, he won't have the opportunity to add to that home run total for a while. The Angels placed Walsh on the 10-day Injured List with a strained intercostal - an injury similar to an oblique strain. For those who have been keeping up with the MLB this season, oblique injuries have been widespread. Some injuries are minor and only keep players out the minimum of 10 days - as was the case with Dodger's slugger Max Muncy. Other players have missed months at a time - see Adalberto Mondesi in Kansas City.
Even if Walsh only missed 10 games, Los Angeles can't afford it. The Trout injury continues to linger and he won't return until mid-August at the earliest. The Walsh injury is the nail in the coffin.
It's time for the Angels to embrace the seller's path.
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