Question No. 2: Jerry Dipoto's next move

February, 6, 2012
2/06/12
10:49
AM PT
In the weeks leading up to spring training, we're counting down the biggest questions the Angels face in 2012.

The Angels will have a fascinating puzzle on their hands as spring training moves along and they try to assemble their most competitive roster.

Assuming everybody is healthy, they'll have three first basemen with 30-plus-home run power; two of the speediest young center fielders in baseball; and a designated hitter with a borderline Hall-of-Fame career and virtually no role. We haven't even mentioned the deepest rotation they've had in at least three years.

It's an unwieldy roster, for the moment, but exactly the kind of group that gives a general manager options. Jerry Dipoto already has remade the team by signing marquee free agents Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson. Now, he has a chance to cement a championship-caliber group with one or two shrewd moves between now and July or so.

Other than Pujols, Wilson, Jered Weaver and, probably, Mike Trout, nobody on this 40-man roster seems off-limits for trade talks, but these guys seem particularly moveable: Bobby Abreu, Mark Trumbo, Maicer Izturis, Peter Bourjos (maybe) and Hank Conger.

To which some Angels fans will reply, "What about Vernon Wells?" Wishful thinking. Unless the Angels are willing to eat $60 million or so, nobody's going to take that problem off their hands and, for similar reasons, Torii Hunter figures to stay put at least until this fall.

If the Angels move Abreu, the return likely would be scant. He'll be 38 on Opening Day, makes $9 million and has seen his power and ability to get on base slip in recent years. If they move Izturis, it could get them an early-inning reliever or mediocre prospect.

To trade one of the younger players, they likely would have to be moved to do so by another team's offer.

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wrote that there is "a lot of speculation" the Washington Nationals will trade 27-year-old left-hander John Lannan for Bourjos, clearing a path for Mike Trout, a 20-year-old widely viewed as one of the top-five prospects in baseball.

It's not out of the question the teams could be talking about this deal, but is it a one-to-one proposition? Lannan would be one of the league's better No. 5 starters and give the Angels' rotation ideal balance: three right-handers, two lefties. But it seems like the Angels could get more than just Lannan for Bourjos, a 24-year-old who plays brilliant center field and is rapidly improving as a hitter. Lannan, 27, was 10-13 last year and has a lifetime 4.00 ERA.

Trumbo, 26, could see his at-bats drop by 200 or more with Pujols holding down his position, plenty of outfield depth and his ability to play acceptable third base in doubt. Hunter could vacate right field this fall, but Trout might be ready to play every day by then. Trumbo's expendable, but given his age, salary ($450,000 or so) and massive power potential, Dipoto can afford to wait for an enticing offer. Conger hasn't established himself in the major leagues yet so won't fetch as much as Trumbo, but a switch-hitting young catcher with power will always be in demand.

It's good to be Dipoto these days.

Mark Saxon

ESPNLosAngeles.com
Mark Saxon is a staff writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com. He spent six years at the Orange County Register, and began his career at the Oakland Tribune, where he started an 11-year journey covering Major League Baseball. He has also covered colleges, including USC football and UCLA basketball.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
C.J. Wilson
WINS ERA SO IP
2 3.92 24 20
OTHER LEADERS
BAM. Trout .317
HRM. Trout 5
RBIR. Ibanez 12
RK. Calhoun 12
OPSM. Trout 1.019
ERAT. Skaggs 2.40
SOC. Wilson 24