Los Angeles Adds an Angel in the Outfield

The Angels quietly made a transaction of their own on Mookiesmas, picking up Joc Pederson, Ross Stripling, and Andy Pages from the Los Angeles Dodgers in return for Luis Rengifo and possibly a second prospect. The exact final names, most prominently if there’s anyone else heading to the Dodgers, are still up in the air at publication time.

If the Mookie trade was a Tuesday night earthquake, the Pederson move is one of its aftershocks. The Dodgers are splashing a lot of dollars onto their 2020 payroll, and whether or not baseball ought to have a luxury tax with steep penalties, that’s the world we live in and teams take it very seriously. Pederson’s exact 2020 salary is still unknown as he’s headed to arbitration, with the Dodgers filing at $7.75 million and Pederson’s camp at $9 million. The MLB Trade Rumors prediction of $8.5 million is the one we’ll go with there.

Sending Stripling to the Angels also removes $2.1 million from the Dodger payroll, putting the total luxury tax number at around $220 million. It does not appear the Dodgers got enough salary thrown in by the Red Sox to get under the first luxury tax threshold, but they do appear to be safely under the second threshold of $228 million. This is important because it leaves the Dodgers some flexibility to make other, small additions, while avoiding the second threshold’s steeper penalties, which could matter if the team’s in a position where they feel they need to pull the trigger on a big trade in July.

[Correction: Our payroll page for the Dodgers previously included Homer Bailey’s buyout and dollar figures for Yasiel Sierra and Hector Olivera in the team’s luxury tax figure. This has since been updated. The Dodgers now appear to have a chance to actually get under the $208 million threshold, not just the $228 million one. The exact amount the Red Sox are sending to the Dodgers to cover David Price’s contract is not yet public, so the situation remains fluid. If the Dodgers get under the $208 million threshold, it seems less likely that they would then spend over that threshold at the deadline. My apologies for any confusion! -DS]

Like Kenta Maeda, Stripling’s a nice player to have around, but with the Alex Wood signing, he’d probably be seventh or eighth in the rotation pecking order, even with Maeda gone to the Twins. Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin, and if healthy, Jimmy Nelson, all have higher upside than Stripling, who sheds a good deal of his utility if he isn’t in a starting role.

But Stripling’s comfort starting or relieving is highly useful to the Angels. The team missed out on all the top free agent pitchers, resulting in Julio Teheran and Dylan Bundy at top of the rotation along with Shohei Ohtani, who is returning from Tommy John surgery. If Stripling can be a viable fourth starter who throws five decent innings one week and then makes relief appearances in the sixth and seventh the next, the Angels will be happy.

The team also appears to have finally realized that even Mike Trout can only take club so far. They’ve been more aggressive in their position payer signings this offseason, most notably adding Anthony Rendon to the lineup. Brian Goodwin was a very nice find for the Angels in 2019, claimed off waivers from the Kansas City Royals when that team, for some bizarre reason, needed to free up roster space to add Lucas Duda. Replacement-level is supposed to be the major league equivalent to “free,” but the Angels got a .262/.326/.470, 1.9 WAR line from Goodwin. But as good a story as Goodwin’s 2019 was, his longer playing history is a bit less exciting and his ZiPS projection of .243/.307/.428, 97 OPS+, and 0.7 WAR is a considerable drop-off from those numbers.

As such, Pederson represents an upgrade in right field, though he comes with some limitations. Unlike Ryan Klesko in the days of mid-yore, Pederson has never been able to get his numbers against lefties up enough that you can roster him without having suitable platoon mates, or at least part-time ones. Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernández filled this role with the Dodgers, combining for 35 starts in left field in 2019. You also want to avoid using Pederson in center if possible, which the existence of the guy the Angels have manning the position currently makes easy.

The Angels don’t have the same roster depth as the Dodgers, but they do have Goodwin, who, while a left-handed hitter, has shown a reverse platoon split in the majors (.842 OPS against LHP, .767 OPS against RHP). This isn’t just a small sample fluke; he showed the same kind of topsy-turvy splits in the minor leagues. Jo Adell is unlikely to steal playing time early on, but the organization likely hopes that he makes a case for being Pederson’s caddy at some point, while also filling in at the other outfield positions and slowly taking over more and more of the right field job. Pederson is a free agent after 2020, after all, and Adell, along with Brandon Marsh is a big part of the team’s future.

Luis Rengifo found himself a regular starter at second base for the Angels in 2019, hitting .238/.321/.364, 1.2 WAR. It’s unlikely he’ll fill the same role with Gavin Lux on the fast-track to taking the second base job, but it’s also possible that Rengifo starts the season at second before Lux is called up. He has experience playing shortstop, second, base, and left field, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he becomes the team’s latest Swiss Army knife, possibly supplanting Taylor or Hernandez long-term. And Rengifo has enough upside that he could very well be in the mix to be Justin Turner’s successor at third should he not re-sign with the team.

Also going to the Angels — and as more than just a throw-in — is minor league outfielder Andy Pages. Signed for $300,000 in 2018, the former Cuban teenage standout crushed his way up the prospect ranks in 2019. My colleague Eric Longenhagen shared that Pages will be promoted to the 40+ FV tier on this year’s Angels list and that he’ll end up in a corner (he played centerfield the most in 2019). He’s still very raw, but then again, he’s a teenager without a lot of professional experience.

The raw hitting numbers for Pages are very impressive; he posted a .298/.398/.651 line for the Rookie-level Ogden Raptors. That’s not quite enough to put Ogden(ville) on the map, of course, as the Pioneer League is a high-offense league, with teams scoring 5.3 runs per game. Lindquist Field is also a solid park for homers, with a 1.07 park multiplier for home runs over the last three seasons (this would be in the top 10 in the majors, tying with Guaranteed Rate Field). I don’t want to sound unduly negative — Pages is a real prospect — but he still has a long path to the majors and there’s a lot of risk, especially until we see him at the higher levels.

As the terms of the trade are not finalized, there may or may not be other prospect(s) involved, though it seems unlikely that any of the names added after this point will be significant enough to affect the basic contours of this deal.

ZiPS Projection – Joc Pederson
2020 .241 .334 .496 407 69 98 22 2 26 66 50 109 2 122 2 2.3


ZiPS Projection – Luis Rengifo
2020 .254 .325 .402 503 65 128 24 7 12 57 48 104 10 93 1 1.8
2021 .257 .330 .416 490 65 126 25 7 13 58 49 103 10 98 2 2.1
2022 .257 .333 .429 490 67 126 26 8 14 60 51 105 9 102 2 2.4
2023 .257 .335 .433 487 67 125 25 8 15 61 53 107 9 104 2 2.6
2024 .255 .336 .434 482 68 123 25 8 15 62 54 109 8 104 2 2.6
2025 .253 .334 .431 471 66 119 25 7 15 59 53 106 7 103 1 2.4


ZiPS Projection – Ross Stripling
2020 6 4 4.00 32 15 92.3 91 15 23 96 110 1.5
2021 5 4 3.95 29 13 84.3 81 13 20 88 111 1.4
2022 5 4 3.94 28 13 82.3 79 13 20 86 112 1.3

Dan Szymborski is a senior writer for FanGraphs and the developer of the ZiPS projection system. He was a writer for ESPN.com from 2010-2018, a regular guest on a number of radio shows and podcasts, and a voting BBWAA member. He also maintains a terrible Twitter account at @DSzymborski.

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4 years ago

Important distinction, Andy Pages is going TO the Angels.

4 years ago
Reply to  rasouddress

Came here to say just this…

4 years ago
Reply to  Dan Szymborski

So you had to go to…My Back Pages?