On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Angels made it clear that they intend to buy this deadline. Not only did they remove two-way star Shohei Ohtani from the trade block, they acquired right-handers Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo López from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for two of their top prospects. The Angels were subsequently rewarded by Ohtani, who threw his first complete game and homered twice as part of a doubleheader sweep on Thursday.
The Angels have now won eight of their last 10, including four in a row. That stretch has moved Anaheim to just three back of the third and final American League wild-card spot. It's also emboldened general manager Perry Minasian to remain aggressive on the trade front between now and 6 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Aug. 1, when Major League Baseball's deadline will pass.
What else might Minasian do? His options figure to be limited by a depleted war chest. The Giolito and López deal required arguably his top prospect, young catcher Edgar Quero, and another top-five type in lefty Ky Bush. Two of the Angels' other most notable prospects, right-handers Sam Bachman and Ben Joyce, are injured. Former top prospect Jo Adell, meanwhile, remains an enigma. That leaves Minasian looking to make moves by leveraging what appears to be one of the worst farm systems in the majors.
With that in mind, let's identify five realistic targets for the Angels. Do note that the players are presented alphabetically. Bear in mind, too, that this exercise is more about identifying needs than the specific players named.
1. Jeimer Candelario, 3B, Nationals
Candelario, by virtue of being the top third baseman available this deadline, might end up being too expensive for the Angels. Such is the nature of supply and demand. With Anthony Rendon on the shelf with a shin injury, the Angels have been relying upon Mike Moustakas at the hot corner. Moustakas has played better than expected (his OPS is over .800 the past two weeks), but he's also struck out eight times as often as he's walked with the Angels. It's hard to feel great about his chances of sustaining this output, or of remaining productive enough to justify starting everyday for a contending club.
Speaking of undesirable corner-infield situations, the Angels have been deploying a timeshare at first featuring Eduardo Escobar and Trey Cabbage. Neither's OPS+ with the Angels this season is higher than 85. That's not what you want at the cold corner. Cron, who spent his first four seasons with the Angels, is in the midst of his worst effort since 2017 -- that was, fittingly his final year in town. His underlying measures are widely unchanged from last season, indicating that he should be good for more production down the stretch. Even a league-average effort would represent an upgrade.
3. Andy Ibañez, INF, Tigers
Yes, yet another infielder. Ibañez is already 30 years old, limiting his long-term value to the Tigers (or any other club, for that matter). He's a high-quality fielder who makes better contact than you'd expect based on his 87 OPS+. The Angels have been toying with Luis Rengifo at the keystone, and while his OPS+ is also 87, his defensive work grades as inferior to Ibañez's. At minimum, Ibañez would represent an upgrade over Michael Stefanic.
4. Dominic Leone, RHP, Mets
The only thing separating Leone from a quality season is an unchecked case of gopheritis. He's surrendered seven home runs in 29 innings so far, or more than two for every nine innings. Put another way, 27% of the hits Leone has allowed this season have cleared the fence. Angel Stadium is one of the top launching pads in the majors, according to Statcast's park factors, making this a curious fit on paper. We acknowledge as much. Still, if you're the Angels, you have to be willing to take some risks. We think gambling on Leone's home-run rate regressing, at least to a certain extent, might be a worthwhile bet.
5. Keynan Middleton, RHP, White Sox
We suggested one reunion earlier in this piece, how's about another with Middleton? He's re-established himself with the White Sox by striking out 31% of the batters he's faced, a would-be career-high. Middleton, like Leone, has been home-run prone this year. It's certainly risky introducing a homer-prone pitcher to a ballpark that's conducive to the long ball, but keep in mind that weird things can happen with reliever's home-run rates. Besides, Middleton's bat-missing ability would make him more expensive if he didn't have a wart.