19 Jul 19
San Gabriel Valley Tribune
ANAHEIM — As the Angels approach the MLB trade deadline on the fringes of the playoff race, Billy Eppler is still looking to make upgrades that could help the team in 2019 or 2020.
The Angels’ general manager said Thursday they are “absolutely” in the market to add players, either pitchers or position players.
“I would say our preference is to lean heavily in the direction of people that have control after this season,” Eppler said. “That’s not an absolute, but that is more where our sightline is focused. I am having conversations continually and will continue to have conversations with clubs.”
That means the Angels aren’t as likely to be involved in the bidding for starting pitchers like the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner, the Reds’ Tanner Roark or the Mets’ Zack Wheeler (who is currently injured).
The Angels opened play on Thursday trailing by 5-1/2 games in the race for the second American League wild-card spot, needing to leapfrog at least four teams to get a playoff spot. It would not make sense for them to use much of their prospect capital on a player who would only help them this year.
However, pitchers such as Matthew Boyd, Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Robby Ray or Chris Archer all would remain under control next season, too, so they could be Angels targets.
The prospect cost is, of course, higher for a player with more control, though.
Eppler also said the Angels aren’t likely to trade away major league players who have control beyond this season, even if they fall further out of the race before the deadline.
“Our direction is an upward angle, so if we were to entertain (trading anyone) with control that would take us away from that upward angle, that’s a non-starter,” Eppler said. “It has to continue our progression for us to (trade anyone) who has control.”
The Angels’ only impending free agents are pitcher Matt Harvey, pitcher Trevor Cahill and catcher Jonathan Lucroy. The team holds an option on outfielder Kole Calhoun, so the Angels consider him to be under control.
RAMIREZ TO BULLPEN
The Angels have decided to continue JC Ramírez’s rehab assignment with the idea of bringing him back as a multi-inning reliever.
Eppler said that considering “how our club has been unfolding,” they believe they can get more value from Ramírez having him pitch multiple innings every two or three days instead of trying to get five or six out of him every fifth day.
Ramírez, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, will continue his rehab assignment with Class-A Inland Empire. He can pitch in the minors until July 30, when his rehab assignment will expire and he’ll need to be activated.
Ramírez has allowed 32 runs in 36 innings so far in the minors, mostly at Triple-A. He said he’s feeling healthy, but he still has some work to do to be more effective, including waiting for his velocity to come back. He’s been at 90-93 mph, instead of the 95 mph he pitched at before he was hurt.
“The slider is getting there,” Ramírez said. “I need more consistency. … The velocity, you can’t force that. That will come.”
Lucroy rejoined to the Angels after having his broken nose repaired. He said he feels “great,” although he’s expected to be out a few more weeks.
[related_articles location=”left” show_article_date=”false” article_type=”automatic-primary-section”]Lucroy also commented on Noé Ramírez’s three-game suspension, which stemmed from him hitting Jake Marisnick with a pitch nine days after Marisnick’s collision with Lucroy. Manager Brad Ausmus was also suspended for one game, on Wednesday night.
“The ball got away from Noé,” Lucroy said. “If we’re going to hit a guy on purpose, doing it with Noe Ramirez throwing 89 wouldn’t be the guy, for me. But it happened and it’s over with. Guys got suspended and fined and everything else. And our manager is back tonight, which is good. It should be over with on both sides. It should be. It better be.”
The Angels recalled Jake Jewell and optioned Luke Bard, who would have been unavailable after throwing 46 pitches on Wednesday night. …
Keynan Middleton, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, still has “a little more” than two weeks left before he will be activated, Eppler said. Middleton is pitching at Triple-A Salt Lake.
Angels (TBA) at Mariners (RHP Mike Leake, 7-8, 4.60), Friday, 7:10 p.m., Fox Sports West, 830 AM