Los Angeles Angels fans have gone six long seasons without seeing their team play postseason baseball in October.
This reality is made especially disappointing by the fact that each failed season is a waste of some of Mike Trout’s best baseball.
At this point, the 20-27 Angels are looking more like sellers than buyers, but if the team wants to try to salvage their season, they could start by giving their rotation a facelift.
The woes don’t stop there, though: the team has bullpen and lineup issues that are just as bad.
Here are three trade options that could turn the 2021 season around for the Angels.
3. Sonny Gray
A Sonny Gray deal would make good sense for the Angels.
He’s under contract through the 2022 season, meaning they’d be able to stabilize their rotation for both this season and next.
Gray has had a tumultuous career, but the 31-year-old has largely been a reliable rotation piece throughout his nine MLB seasons.
This year, Gray has somehow managed a 3.97 ERA despite a 1.46 WHIP.
At his best, Gray can be a Cy Young candidate, like we saw during his 2019 season with the Cincinnati Reds (2.87 ERA, 3.42 FIP) and during his 2015 season with the Oakland Athletics (2.73 ERA, 3.45 FIP).
Those years may be history for Gray, but he has still posted good numbers over his past few seasons.
Sonny Gray, 93mph Two Seamer and 84mph Breaking Ball, Overlay. 😳
[Just the pitch is overlaid due to camera shake] pic.twitter.com/SzWUJKhYfp
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 12, 2021
Gray would likely fit in as a high-end rotation option given the struggles of the Angels’ current staff.
2. Kevin Gausman
Gray alone would not be enough to save the starting rotation, but bringing in a second arm like Kevin Gausman could change the complexion of things.
Gausman’s value is at an all-time high, and when you consider the fact that he’s playing for a surprise-contender in the San Francisco Giants, it’s a safe bet that the Angels would have to pay a steep price to pry him away.
It’s certainly a deal that would pump some life into this team, though.
Gausman has a 1.66 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 2.48 FIP and a crazy 2.6 WAR through nine starts.
He’s firmly in the Cy Young mix.
Gausman’s deal expires at the end of the season, so the Angels would have to be careful not to overpay for a rental unless they’re ready to go all-in at the deadline.
1. Josh Hader
This final spot is going towards bullpen help, though you could justifiably argue that the team is equally desperate for some offense, as six out of the team’s nine starting hitters have a below-league-average OPS+.
The Angels have a bullpen ERA of 5.25, which ranks 30th.
One arm wouldn’t stop the bleeding, but Josh Hader would be a good place to start.
The Brewers are expected to deal Hader to get him off their payroll before he enters arbitration. Whichever team lands Hader will be getting one of the best relievers in the game.
The lefty has a 1.06 ERA, 0.81 FIP, 0.84 WHIP and 30 strikeouts in 16.2 innings this year.
Josh Hader, Wicked 84mph Slider…and Game-ending Sword. ⚔️ pic.twitter.com/oRJ3sa3pDi
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 28, 2021
Hader isn’t a free agent until 2024, so the Angels would be able to build their bullpen around Hader for several years if they were to bring him in.