The Los Angeles Angels made a crosstown trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers for slugging outfielder Joc Pederson and 2020 couldn’t come any sooner.
For those that thought the Los Angeles Angels were done this offseason, Monday’s news might have been a bit of a surprise. For the first time since the Howie Kendrick trade, the Halos made a deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, acquiring slugging outfielder Joc Pederson in the process.
The complete terms of the trade are still unknown, as there are two unnamed prospects that are going back to the Dodgers, but so far the Dodgers have traded Pederson and starting pitcher Ross Stripling to the Angels with Luis Rengifo going to the Dodgers.
This came after the massive news that the Los Angeles Dodgers would be trading Alex Verdugo and Brusdar Graterol (who was acquired from the Minnesota Twins for Kenta Maeda) to the Boston Red Sox for Mookie Betts and David Price.
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Needing to free up salary, the Dodgers traded Pederson to the Angels for Rengifo, whose luxury tax salary is $583,000, compared to Pederson’s $8.5 million. Stripling, who only was making $600,000, sweetened the deal for the Angels and likely netted the Dodgers those prospects in return.
For the Los Angeles Angels, this trade could not have been any better. The biggest need for the team is still starting pitching and they addressed that while also adding yet another great bat into the lineup.
Granted, Ross Stripling is no ace, but he is a former all-star with a high ceiling that could be an innings eater in Anaheim, if he can stay healthy — which is a big ‘if’ for the Angels. Getting Stripling and Pederson for Rengifo and some prospects is quite the haul.
Now, the Angels look to be in an even better position to contend for a postseason spot. While Pederson has his inconsistencies and is virtually unusable against left-handed pitching, he gives the Angels a fourth outfielder to platoon with Justin Upton or even Brian Goodwin. It also gives Jo Adell more time to get big-league ready, as Pederson does not block him with a one-year contract.
If Anthony Rendon can continue doing what he has been doing the last several years, Mike Trout stays being Mike Trout and Tommy La Stella continues playing as he did last season then this could be a scary offense.
Of course, there is also room for disappointment. Pederson has had severe ups and downs with the Dodgers and hit .212 just three years ago. He appears to be more consistent than before, but the possibility of him being worse in Anaheim definitely is there.
Justin Upton was bad last year and La Stella might not repeat what he did last year. Rendon and Trout should be locked to succeed, though, so even if two of the three mentioned underperformed then the Angels will still have an above-average offense.
The big question mark is the starting pitching. Stripling gives the Angels more depth, which is awesome, and this pitching staff absolutely is good enough to win 90 games if the Los Angeles Angels’ offense is as good as it could be.
The big worry, which is a bridge that we can cross once we get there, is if the Angels’ pitching staff is good enough to win in October. We see it every year: pitching wins playoff games and we cannot even guarantee that Shohei Ohtani will still be at full strength, or even pitching, by October.
Without Ohtani, the Angels do not have anyone that fans should feel comfortable pitching in game one of a playoff series. Stripling never started a playoff game on the Dodgers across four years and Julio Teheran did not start in the playoffs for the Braves in either of the last two years. He has a career 10.50 postseason ERA.
Again, that is a bridge that the Los Angeles Angels can cross once they get there — right now, the biggest challenge is getting back into the postseason for the first time since 2014.
Right now, though, the Los Angeles Angels look exponentially better than the 2019 team that lost 90 games. Joc Pederson and Ross Stripling are excellent additions.