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 3: The 2018 Season…
October 9, 2017
The Cubs traded Felix Peña to the Angels for a player to be named later or cash considerations. It seems as if cash ended up being sent to the Cubs because no player was sent later due to this trade. Although he was only 3-5 in 2018, Peña had a 4.18 ERA in 19 games with the Angels including 17 starts. He had 85 strikeouts and only 28 walks in 92.2 innings. This season, he has done an adequate job as a starter while Andrew Heaney has been getting healthy. He’s 2-1 with a 3.30 ERA in 9 games. Although he has officially started only 4 of those games, the other 5 games were because the “opener” strategy was used.
November 30, 2017
The Angels traded LHP Justin Kelly to the Atlanta Braves for RHP Jim Johnson. Justin Kelly got as far as AAA in 2017 but was overwhelmed, so he got sent all the way down to A ball. He got promoted to AA last season and posted a 5.06 ERA. In 2019, he was sent back down to A ball and posted a 5.93 ERA. He probably won’t have a future in MLB. The Angels let their solid right-handed reliever Yusmeiro Petit sign with Oakland and signed Jim Johnson to take his spot. In 2017, Petit went 5-2 with a 2.76 ERA, struck out 101, gave up 69 hits, and walked only 18 in 91.1 innings. In 2018, Jim Johnson went on the disabled list on June 15 due to a lumbar strain. He finally came back on July 22. He ended up going 5-3 with a 3.84 ERA. In 63.1 innings, he gave up 64 hits, walked 22, and struck out 45. He did a decent job, but couldn’t match Petit’s numbers.
December 15, 2017
The Angels signed 2B Zack Cozart. Cozart got injured on June 15 and had left shoulder subluxation and never came back for the 2018 season. He was activated on November 2. His totals for 2018: .219 with 5 HR and 19 RBIs in 224 at-bats. Although he has been healthy in 2019, he hasn’t been able to hit the broad size of a barn this season. In 96 at bats, he is hitting .125 with 0 home runs 7 RBIs and a .179 on-base percentage. Let’s just say that Cozart’s signing was a major disaster.
December 23, 2017
The Angels traded OF Troy Montgomery and RHP Wilkel Hernandez to the Detroit Tigers for 2B Ian Kinsler. Montgomery is playing AA ball for Detroit and is currently batting .151 in 53 at bats. Hernandez is currently playing A ball for Detroit and has a 4.85 ERA and has given up 46 hits in 39 innings. Kinsler was supposed to compete with Zack Cozart for the second baseman’s job. He immediately went on the disabled list on March 31 with a left abductor strain. He ended up playing one season with the Angels and hit 13 home runs and 32 RBIs and had a .239 batting average. He played adequate defense but didn’t answer the call offensively except for a little pop in his bat. He was later traded to the Red Sox in July (see below).
January 9, 2018
The Angels signed free agent catcher Rene Rivera in order to be a backup catcher. On May 20, he went on the 10-day disabled list with right knee inflammation. He didn’t play again until he was activated on August 15. In 82 at-bats, Rivera hit .244 with 4 HR and 11 RBIs. The Braves picked him on waivers on August 29.
February 17, 2018
The Angels traded C.J. Cron to the Tampa Bay Rays for a player to be named later. Cron only hit .253 for the Rays, but he had 30 home runs and 74 RBIs. This season he’s batting with 13 home runs and 34 RBIs for the Minnesota Twins. The Angels platooned Albert Pujols, Luis Valbuena, and Jefry Marte at first base in 2018, which did not work at all. However, the player that the Angels got later was Luis Rengifo. Rengifo has a lot of potentials and made his major league debut this season. So far he’s batting .200 (10-for-50), but he should improve as he matures. It’s too early to tell if he’s a major league caliber player. On the other hand, he has a lot of upsides.
Grade: D (Could change depending on how Rengifo develops)
February 18, 2018
The Angels signed free-agent OF Chris Young. On July 4, he went on the 10-day disabled list because he strained his left hamstring and was transferred to the 60-day disabled list in August. Young batted .168 with 6 home runs and 13 RBIs in 113 at-bats. He became a free agent in October.
February 21, 2018
The New York Yankees traded OF Jabari Blash to the Angels for a player to be named later. Blash went 4-for-39 (.103) for the Angels. It was a low-risk move but it failed.
March 31, 2018
The Angels traded catcher Carlos Perez to the Atlanta Braves for 3B Ryan Schimpf. In 2018, Perez played for the Braves and Rangers. He batted .143 for both teams. Schimpf had 5 at bats with the Angels and hit a home run. The Angels didn’t lose this trade, but they didn’t win either.
April 3, 2018
The Braves traded RHP Akeel Morris to the Angels for a player to be named later. Morris appeared in 9 games for the Angels and had a 5.79 ERA. This was another low-risk move that didn’t pan out.
June 22, 2018
The Texas Rangers traded Deck McGuire to the Angels for a player to be named later. McGuire had a 6.07 ERA in 29.2 innings and gave up 29 hits and 21 walks. This was yet another low-risk move that didn’t work in the Angels favor.
June 30, 2018
The Cincinnati Red traded catcher Joe Hudson to the Angels for cash. The Angels didn’t really have a spot for him. They gave him 12 at-bats and he got 2 hits. The Halos wanted to see if he would blow their socks off, but he didn’t. He was designated for assignment on October 26.
July 31, 2018
The Angels traded 2B Ian Kinsler to the Boston Red Sox for RHP Ty Buttrey and LHP Williams Jerez. Kinsler batted .242 with 1 home run and 16 RBIs for the Red Sox and is currently batting .189 with 6 home runs and 11 RBIs for the San Diego Padres. Although the Angels traded Williams Jerez to the Giants for Chris Stratton (later released), The Angels might have found a future closer in the making. In 2018, he had a 3.31 ERA with 20 strikeouts in 16.1 innings. This season, he’s 2-2 with a 1.37 ERA and has 32 strikeouts in 26.1 innings.
Featured Image: Josh Leftkowitz/Getty Images