Many LA Angels fans were left with dropped jaws when news broke Friday that the team non-tendered relief pitcher Blake Parker and starter Matt Shoemaker, making them both free agents in the process. However, this could be the beginning of something big.
My reaction was the same as most people following the LA Angels. Why give up two above-average players to save 8-10 million dollars? The team is supposed to be contending for a playoff spot in 2019 and 2020, so giving up two pieces without getting anything in return seemed unsettling to me.
Then, I sat down and thought for a few minutes.
Okay, more than just a few minutes, but after some looking around I found something out. Billy Eppler does not just give up good players for nothing. Throughout his entire Angels’ tenure, Eppler has never just released a good player without getting something in return.
A good example of this is CJ Cron. Last year, it was obvious Cron would not have a role with the team. Instead of releasing him, Eppler traded him to the Tampa Bay Rays for Luis Rengifo, who most thought was mid-tier prospect. Now, Cron has been outrighted by the Rays (landing on the Twins), and Rengifo is a Top 10 prospect for the Angels who could see some serious playing time next year.
So why wouldn’t Eppler trade Parker and Shoemaker? Both are better players than Cron was, so the return could be solid. However, Eppler was not interested in bringing in more contracts, for one reason and one reason only.
The Angels are going all in this offseason.
Think about it, cutting instead of trading players opens up the most possible salary room (giving the Angels roughly $8-10 million extra). The Angels have been linked to starting pitchers across the free agent market. Given that they had around $25 million to spend already, this extra money gives them the chance to bring in multiple big-time players.
Patrick Corbin is the hottest name on the market. He will demand the most money and rightfully so. If the Angels did not make this move, then signed Corbin, that would likely be it for the entire offseason. Now, they can add another name such as Nathan Eovaldi (who they are reportedly in on), JA Happ (another name they’re linked to), or even Japanese sensation Yusei Kikuchi.
This extra money gives Billy Eppler just a little more room to work some magic. While no signing this offseason will be as monumental as Shohei Ohtani’s last year, the Angels are in a great position to add some names to their pitching staff now. The moves with Parker and Shoemaker were puzzling at first, but Angels fans need to continue trusting in Eppler.