Angels get Alberto Callaspo from Royals for two pitchers

3 Comments

From Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star comes word that the Angels have acquired third baseman Alberto Callaspo from the Royals for righty Sean O’Sullivan and minor league left-hander Will Smith.

The Angels opened the season with Brandon Wood at third base and had high hopes for the 25-year-old, but he’s hit just .168/.185/.225 in 173 at-bats and the Halos have struggled to find an answer at the position. 

As a whole, actually, third basemen in Anaheim have posted a combined batting average of .214 this season.  That’s the worst combined batting average at any position, on any team, in the majors.

The 27-year-old Callaspo is a pretty solid defender and has batted .275/.308/.410 with eight homers and 43 RBI in 349 at-bats for the Royals.  The Angels will hope that he can help the club climb closer to the Rangers, who currently hold a five-game lead in the American League West.

Of course, they had to unload some rather serious talent in the three-player swap.  Smith is a fast-rising left-hander and has worked his way to Triple-A at the age of 21.  O’Sullivan, 22, has enjoyed early success in the major leagues, most recently holding the Yankees to two hits over six innings Tuesday in a 10-2 victory.  He’s likely to step right into the Kansas City starting rotation.

Evan Longoria: “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base.”

Joe Scarnici/Getty Images
5 Comments

The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.

Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.

Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”

Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.

The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.