The Angels hired Billy Eppler on October 4, 2015. We will investigate how his transaction decisions have fared year-by-year in a series of four articles starting with the 2016 season and ending with the current season (2019).
We’ll focus on his trades and free agent signings, but we will not focus on waiver pickups since those are low-risk moves which don’t require much spending. Signings of players to minor league contracts will also not count because those are low-risk moves as well. The ratings of each transaction is determined based on how the player has performed on the Angels and how other players the Angels traded have performed on other teams.
Let’s begin with Part 2: The 2017 Season…
November 3, 2016
The Angels traded RHP prospect Victor Alcantara to the Detroit Tigers for Cameron Maybin. Once again, the Angels tried to fill the black hole in left field that Josh Hamilton left. In 336 at-bats, Maybin batted .235 with 6 home runs and 22 RBIs. He did have 19 doubles and led the team with 29 stolen bases. In 2017, Alcantara appeared in only 6 games with the Tigers (7.1 innings) and had an 8.59 ERA. He appeared in 27 games in 2018 and had a 2.40 ERA, had 21 strikeouts, and only 6 walks in 30 innings. However this year, he digressed. In 18.2 innings, he has 9 walks and a 5.30 ERA. Maybin was somewhat useful for the Angels in 2017 when he wasn’t injured. He went on the 10-day because of a left oblique muscle contusion on June 1 and then went back on the DL on July 19 due to a right MCL sprain and was activated on August 7. Alcantara was expendable and probably won’t last long in the majors.
November 14, 2016
The Angels signed RHP Jesse Chavez. Jesse Chavez got a decent amount of innings (138) but gave up 148 hits and 28 home runs. He had a 7-11 record with a 5.35 ERA. The journeyman pitcher will continue to bounce from team to team to eat up innings, but that’s pretty much it.
December 1, 2016
The Angels traded RHP Jared Ruxer to the Kansas City Royals for Brooks Pounders. Pounders looked promising in spring training, but couldn’t get anyone out in 11 relief appearances in Anaheim. Pounders pitched 10.1 innings and gave up 12 earned runs (yes, runs, not hits), including 4 home runs. He was designated for assignment on September 8 and sent outright to AAA Salt Lake on September 15. Ruxer got demoted from AA to A in 2018.
Although Ruxer probably won’t become a major league pitcher, Pounders was just awful as a major league pitcher.
December 10, 2016
The Angels traded RHP Austin Adams and Kyle McGowin for 2B Danny Espinosa. Danny was picked up for his great glove and home run power. He hit .209 with 24 home runs and 72 RBIs for the Washington Nationals in 2016, so the Angels weren’t expecting him to get on base often, but when he did, they hoped he would provide some punch. When he played for the Halos, he was horrific. He batted .162 in 228 at bats with 6 home runs and 29 RBIs. His on-base percentage was .237. Espinosa was designated for assignment on July 16 and released on July 20. Austin Adams has pitched in the majors for a total of 10 innings for the Nationals and now the Mariners. He probably won’t be a major league caliber pitcher. McGowin pitched 7.2 innings for the Nationals last season and gave up 5 walks and 5 earned runs. He also doesn’t seem to be a major league caliber ball player.
December 13, 2016
The Angels traded C Jett Bandy for C Martin Maldonado and RHP Drew Gagnon. Jett Bandy had 169 at-bats for the Brewers in 2017 and batted .207 with 6 home runs and 18 RBIs. In 2018, he only had 64 at-bats and batted .164 with 1 home run and 1 RBI. Martin Maldonado became the Angels everyday catcher in 2017 and although he only batted .221, he had 14 home runs and was a great catcher behind the plate. He threw out 39% of base stealers and had 2 errors in 1113 chances. Maldonado signed with the Astros as a free agent in 2018 and then with the Royals in 2019. 29-year old Gagnon now plays for the New York Mets and has appeared in 6 games this season. In 11 innings, he has a 4.09 ERA with 9 strikeouts and 1 walk. Will he be a long term reliever? Possibly, but not likely.
December 23, 2016
The Angels signed LF Ben Revere. The Angels finally got some production out of left field, although there wasn’t much power from Ben (1 home run). He batted .275, had 21 stolen bases, 13 doubles, and 2 triples in 291 at-bats. He was a good player on the Angels left field platoon carousel, but he hasn’t played in the majors since.
January 24, 2017
The Angels sign 1B Luis Valbuena. He was placed on the DL on April 1 retroactive to March 30 for having a right hamstring strain. He was finally activated on May 2. He had good pop in 2017 for the Angels (22 home runs, 65 RBIs, .727 OPS), but only batted .199. Ironically he had the same batting average in 2018 but his power dropped (9 home runs, 33 RBIs, and .588 OPS) and he was designated for assignment in 2018.
Sidenote: A tragedy happened to him in 2018: On December 6, Valbuena, José Castillo, and Carlos Rivero were in a car in Yaracuy driven by Rivero’s chauffeur when the group was ambushed by highway robbers. The driver attempted to avoid them but the vehicle struck a rock and overturned, killing Valbuena and Castillo.
April 17, 2017
The Baltimore Orioles sent Parker Bridwell to the Angels for cash. This was one of the few trades that the Angels totally came out on top of (at least for one year). The Angels got Parker for nothing and got a huge return of investment with 10 wins and a 3.64 ERA in 121 innings. He appeared in 5 games in 2018, but couldn’t maintain the success he had in 2017, but he was still a bargain for a year.
May 20, 2017
The Angels sign free agent SP Doug Fister. The Boston Red Sox claimed him off waivers from the Angels on June 23. Fister never got a chance to pitch for the Angels since the Halos didn’t think he could contribute much. Fister ended up going 5-9 with a 4.88 ERA in 15 starts with the Red Sox in 2017 and 1-7 with a 4.50 ERA in 12 starts with the Texas Rangers.
July 31, 2017
The Angels traded RHP reliever David Hernandez to the Arizona Diamondbacks for RHP Luis Madero. Madero is still only 22 and recently got promoted to AA Mobile. He currently has a 4.29 ERA in 4 starts. He has 17 strikeouts and only 3 walks in 21 innings. He could be a promising #4 or #5 starter or a solid reliever in the future. David Hernandez finished 2017 terribly with the Snakes. After posting solid numbers with the Angels in 2017 (2.23 ERA in 36 innings), he had a 4.82 ERA with Arizona (18.2 innings and 19 hits). He then signed as a reliever with the Cincinnati Reds and had a good 2018 (2.53 ERA) and has had a more pedestrian 3.74 ERA in 21.2 innings this season.
August 31, 2017
The Angels traded Tony Sanchez to the Cincinnati Reds for 36-year old veteran 2B Brandon Phillips. Brandon was traded to get the Angels to compete for a playoff spot. He didn’t really materialize into much, but he did play adequate defense and gave the Angels opponents an illusion that Phillips was still the Brandon Phillips of old. In 102 at-bats, he hit .255 with only 2 home runs and 8 RBIs. He signed with the Red Sox in 2018 and went 3-for-23 prompting him to retire after that. Sanchez has only had 9 major league at-bats since 2014. On April 16, 2018, Sanchez was traded to the Texas Rangers for a player to be named later.
August 31, 2017
The Angels traded RHP Grayson Long and future cash considerations for LF Justin Upton. Justin Upton is the left field savior that the Angels had been looking for since Josh Hamilton was released. The Angels finally got someone to fill that void. He only batted .245 in 2017, but he hit 7 home runs in the month of September and more importantly, he signed a 4-year $88 million contract to stay with the Angels. Unfortunately, he has been injured all season due to turf toe that he suffered in spring training. But expect him to be back in June strengthening an already deep Halos lineup. Meanwhile, Grayson Long hasn’t appeared in any minor league games since 2017.
Featured Image: Sports Illustrated