Squeezed Out … of The Outfield: Are Angels, Red Sox, Reds and Giants Bridging to/Blocking Prospects?

Josh Hamilton (Danny Wild/MiLB.com)

Josh Hamilton (Danny Wild/MiLB.com)

When word broke of the Angels swooping in and signing former Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton this hour, his soon-to-be-official teammates in Los Angeles were Tweeting to their heart’s content. A small sampling:

  • @Trouty20 (CF Mike Trout): “Wow”
  • @NickMaronde (LHP Nick Maronde): “Glad I don’t have to face the @Angels lineup! #Halonation
  • @GRichards26 (RHP Garrett Richards): “I am so excited for this year!!! Welcome @thejoshhamilton!!!”
  • @CCron24 (1B C.J. Cron): “Welcome the newest member of the Halo family @thejoshhamilton. Congrats!”

All pretty standard stuff, though it’s easy to appreciate Trout’s genuine surprise.

Personally, I was struck by a Tweet from Randal Grichuk, however. Remember him? He’s the guy the Halos drafted a slot ahead of Trout in 2009 (even though they rated Trout ahead of him). Here is what Grichuk sent out from his social media account (@RGrich15): “Wow phone will not stop going off about the Angels signing@thejoshhamilton !!! No team better than the @Angels #ALWest“.

Either Grichuk is just the ultimate team-first guy or he is so much a cliche-clenching ballplayer that he is taking it one day at a time and not worrying about whether Hamilton just limited his Major League chances in the coming couple years.

Whatever the case, if you’ve been reading this blog since day one or are just stumbling upon it this afternoon, you probably know PROSPECTive has a different mindset about such things. There’s plenty of room for hypotheticals here. And, here and now, I wonder aloud how teams’ offseason splashes could affect their pools of prospects. We’ll start this with the outfielders. (Look for infielders and pitchers sometime next week.)

Bryce Brentz (Ken Jancef/MiLB.com)

Bryce Brentz (Ken Jancef/MiLB.com)

RED SOX

MLB veterans: Jonny Gomes (signed through 2014), Shane Victorino (through ’15)

MiLB prospects: Bryce Brentz (has played AAA ball), Jackie Bradley (AA), Brandon Jacobs (A)

Briding to/Blocking: This is clearly a blocking of Brentz, who depending upon who you ask is either Major League-ready of very close to it. This is a bridging to of Bradley, who is developing into a on-base machine/strong defender in center. Victorino can shift to a corner and Jacoby Ellsbury will likely be gone by the time of Bradley’s first callup. Jacobs, while talented, is far enough away that he doesn’t have to worry quite yet.

***

REDS

MLB veterans: Ryan Ludwick (signed through 2014,) Shin-Soo Choo (traded for, signed through ’13)

MiLB prospects: Billy Hamilton (has played AA ball), Ryan LaMarre (AA)

Briding to/Blocking: This is a clear bridging to, and a smart one. Cincinnati will count on Choo to man center field next spring, then watch him leave and have either Hamilton or LaMarre, both potential leadoff men who can steal bases and cover a lot of grass in the outfield, replace him ably in the lineup. Hamilton is likely to get the gig in ’14, meaning LaMarre would be a nice fourth outfield option behind Ludwick and Jay Bruce.

***

Gary Brown (Kevin Pataky/MiLB.com)

Gary Brown (Kevin Pataky/MiLB.com)

GIANTS:

MLB veterans: Angel Pagan (signed through 2016), Andres Torres (signed through ’13)

MiLB prospects: Gary Brown (has played AA ball)

Briding to/Blocking: Another bridging to, even if this case isn’t as obvious. Yes, the Giants gave Pagan too many years (four) and dollars (40 million), but he can move to left when Brown is ready for big league ball in 2014. Brown has similar skills (leadoff ability, gap power, a lot of range in the outfield) and is still looked at as an impact player in the Giants organization despite his less-than-spectacular season at Double-A this year.

*** 

ANGELS

MLB veterans: Josh Hamilton (signed through 2017)

MiLB prospects: Kole Calhoun (has played AAA ball), Travis Witherspoon (AA) and Randal Grichuk (A)

Analysis: With Mike Trout, Peter Bourjos, Vernon Wells, Hamilton and Mark Trumbo (who can also play the infield) all in the mix, I wouldn’t want to be a fringe Angels outfield prospect in the next five years. Calhoun is probably a bench player and Witherspoon is a question mark at this point, while many believe Grichuk can develop into a starter so long as he stays healthy. But it’s hard to imagine him breaking into this outfield anytime in the next couple years. Score this one a blocking.

7 Comments

Couldn’t Angels trade Wells, if they ate 75%-85% of contract left? Also trade Bourjos got Dickey?

Yes, the Angels could trade Wells. But even if they pick up 75-85 percent of his remaining contract, they’re not going to get a valuable player back. Wells, unless he turns it around, is not in demand — at all. Bourjos, despite his offensive struggles, carries more weight on the market given his exceptional defensive skills. But I don’t see the Angels parting with enough to get Dickey, as it would take quite a bit more than just Bourjos.

Although home run hitters would be nice at 3rd and King, Gap power is all you need essentially for the most part when it comes to AT&T Park and especially with the speed Brown has.

I agree wholeheartedly. He and Pagan could be a nice 1-2 combo atop the lineup in ’14 and beyond…

Hamilton won’t be blocking any one in Angels organization from moving up. Bet you he’s out in rehab of some kind before all-star game.

Hamilton is most overrated player in baseball. You can’t play 162 games for me then I don’t want you. This free agency market this year is a bunch of band-aid players. good luck in June when he is on DL for 15 days and then another stint in August. Kole Calhoun get ready to play and he is a good player that will be more than a bench player. Kid has heart and all he needs is reps.

Agree with you on Hamilton in the long run. This trade, along with many others in the past week should make for some interesting baseball in 2013. Giants seem to be doing it right.
Kole, Randal==key players in the coming years for the Angels. I’d bet on it.

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