Angels Acquire Andriese From Arizona

With Anthony Rendon now under contract in Anaheim, our depth charts project Angels position players for 30.0 WAR — fifth-best in the major leagues, and within a half-win of second place. Anaheim pitching, however, is projected for just 13.1 WAR (eighth-worst). No team projected to finish in the top half in WAR is expected to finish with so little of their total coming from their arms (the Twins, who’re projected for 14.9 pitching wins and 45.2 overall, are closest). Given that imbalance, it’s not entirely unexpected that the Angels would spend this latter part of their offseason trying to get arms wherever they can. This week, they got Matt Andriese in a trade with the Diamondbacks in exchange for minor league right-hander Jeremy Beasley.

Andriese, 30, has played in parts of the last five major-league seasons for the Rays and Diamondbacks but has yet to spend a full season at the major league level since making his professional debut in the San Diego system back in 2011. Last year, his first (and, as it turns out, only) season in Arizona, was also his first season pitching exclusively in relief. Andriese acquitted himself adequately in that role, posting an 85 FIP- and 107 ERA- over 70 2/3 innings, mostly ahead of Archie Bradley and Greg Holland. Perhaps most appealingly, he posted a 50.3% groundball rate in a season where the league average was just a touch below 43%.

Despite that success out of the bullpen,’s Rhett Bollinger reports that Andriese will start spring training in competition for a rotation spot. I can understand why the Angels would prefer that path for their new acquisition. As discussed above, they really need arms, and could in particular use a few starters to line up behind Andrew Heaney, Dylan Bundy, and Shohei Ohtani. They had a few in-house candidates for the back of their rotation before acquiring Andriese, but more competition certainly can’t hurt and probably increases the chance that they get a few hundred solid innings out of those spots in 2020. This is, after all, what spring training is for.

I’m less certain that starting is the best move for Andriese. His (modest) success to date has been driven in part by his ability to keep his HR/9 rate — 1.17 for his relief career — somewhat below league average, which was 1.35 for relievers last year. That advantage disappears as a starter (Andriese has a 1.48 HR/9 rate in that role), for the same reason most pitchers are more effective as relievers than as starters: The limited role allows them to eliminate their weakest pitches (in Andriese’s case, his cutter) and dial up the juice on their entire arsenal. That’s particularly important for Andriese, who doesn’t throw all that fast even at the best of times.

Still, whatever role Andriese ends up taking, he’s likely to end up being a reasonably good return for Jeremy Beasley. Beasley, 24, isn’t a badprospect, it’s just that his upside — which is probably as a fifth starter or swingman out of the ‘pen — is pretty much what Andriese is right now. Eric and Kiley ranked Beasley just outside the Angels’ top 30 prospects this time last year while praising his splitter, but a horrendous start to the year in Triple-A Salt Lake and then a step-back across the board in Double-A Mobile probably took a little bit of shine off of his profile.

Beasley likely won’t pitch in Phoenix in 2020, unless things go much more poorly for the Diamondbacks than they hope, or much better for Beasley, but the change of organization will give him an opportunity to re-set his career and find a path to the major leagues early in 2021 or 2022. Andriese, meanwhile, will take a run at the rotation and then likely settle into a relief role for the remainder of his two years under contract with Anaheim. This is a fine trade for both teams — not that exciting, honestly, but just fine for the first week of January, 2020.

Rian Watt is a contributor to FanGraphs based in Seattle. His work has appeared at Vice, Baseball Prospectus, The Athletic, FiveThirtyEight, and some other places too. By day, he works with communities around the world to end homelessness.

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2 years ago

Do the Angels even have an analytics department ?? Matt Andriese as a starter ?? Are they kidding. I guess Anthony Rendon swallowed the same bull crap that they fed to Trout. ” We are going to really improve our pitching” Billy Eppler is a horrible GM. He absolutely refuses to go get an ace. He has a babied starter who they won’t let pitch regularly (Ohtani) and he has a pack of # 4 and 5 starters. Maybe Heaney is a little better than that) I’m sorry but if Mike Trout never gets in the playoffs he has only himself to blame.

2 years ago
Reply to  montreal

What ace do you propose that Billy Eppler “go get” exactly?

2 years ago
Reply to  mikejunt

Kluber would have been a good and cheap start.

2 years ago
Reply to  mikejunt

Pretty well every year there are aces available, either through free agency or trade. The Yankees got Gerritt Cole, the Nationals brought back Steven Strasburg, the Reds traded for Luis Castillo and Trevor Bauer, the Astros traded for Gerritt Cole, the Red Sox traded for Chris Sale, and now Cleveland is willing to trade Mike Clevenger. The Nationals signed Patrick Corbin. I could go on……The problem is that Billy Ineptler refuses to pay the price. Ever !! Now he has lined up the following,
Julio Teheran 4.66 FIP last year 5.29 era predicted this year
Dylan Bunday 4.73 FIP last year 4.47 this year (gives up homers like candy)
Patrick Sandoval 4.59 4.47 4.37
Matt Andriese horrible record as a starter
Ohtani good pitcher but how many innings will he pitch ? They baby him….even more this year. And Andrew Heaney is a decent pitcher. Collectively, the starting rotation is weak….because of Billy Epler. What a shame because their hitting is pretty darn good. My comments about Trout and Rendon were not against their performance. It will be excellent. I simply meant they chose to sign with a team that will not make the playoffs. When Billy Eppler gets fired after this year, maybe guys will admit he did a terrible job.

2 years ago
Reply to  montreal

Babying their best starter who also happens to be one of their most productive hitters. Yeah I don’t know why they would ever do that. If Ohtani continues to hit as he has and can’t stay healthy on the mound they’re probably better off with him as a 1B/RF/RP than starting even with the state of their pitching staff.

I don’t think Eppler is a great GM by any means, honestly he is probably below average so this is not a defense of him in the least. But the Angels decided Rendon was a better value than Cole and Stras which still improves the team so I can live with that effort. Pujols’ contract continues to loom over this franchise as well and that was a Dipoto (maybe more Moreno) signing. That said Eppler has wasted a good chunk of change on mediocrity in recent years (guys like Harvey) and it’s valid to be frustrated with that.

To the individual who mentioned Kluber, it was rumored that Cleveland wanted Marsh for Kluber who is publicly considered a much better prospect than what Cleveland ultimately got for him. Cleveland is also reportedly unwilling to move Clevinger for anything less than Adell+, a top 5 prospect.

Now one can certainly argue LAA should be making these obvious but costly trades that a guy like Dombroski would make if they want to win in Trout’s prime, but the real problem is Eppler is not making the savvy, under the radar moves that teams like the Rays and A’s are lauded for.

The optimist could really squint and see how this could work out if a guy like Canning finds another gear, the team is able to somewhat fix Bundy, Ohtani and Heaney stay healthy, etc. But the team has absolutely no track record to date of strong pitching development or injury prevention so I’m not holding my breath.

Joe Harris
2 years ago
Reply to  averagejoe15

You comparing the Rays and As to the Angels? Bad comp

2 years ago
Reply to  montreal

Uh its not that he “wont let Ohtani pitch regularly” its that there’s a lot of risk and injury potential between being a 30+ homer bat AND an ace pitcher AT THE SAME TIME so they want to make sure he’s 100% ready before putting him in that spot