LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla.--The Angels have nearly completed their offseason Bingo card. Sign an offensive juggernaut? Justin Upton fills that bill. How about an international free agent? Shohei Ohtani and Kevin Maitan check that box. All that was left was adding piece via trade.
On Wednesday night, as the Winter Meetings began winding down, the Angels and general manager Billy Eppler crossed that off their list when they acquired second baseman Ian Kinsler from the Tigers for a pair of prospects. The acquisition also marks the second straight year the Angels have added a second baseman via trade in December.
Eppler and Co. sent two minor leaguers to the Nationals in exchange for Danny Espinosa last winter. Espinosa lasted until July before being waived and claimed by the Mariners.
Ian Kinsler, 2B (MLB)
At the tail end of an five-year deal that will pay him $11 million in 2018, Kinsler isn’t quite what he used to be at the plate. He hit just .236/.313/.412 in 2017 with the Tigers, albeit with 22 home runs. Overall, he dropped 100 points in OPS from 2016 to 2017, so the Angels may be hoping for a little bit of a rebound from Kinsler to go with his consistently above-average defense. He’s not going to be the centerpiece of an offense anymore, but he’ll fit in nicely as a secondary piece behind Upton, Mike Trout, Kole Calhoun, Andrelton Simmons and Albert Pujols. Simmons, Kinsler, Trout and catcher Martin Maldonado should also form an excellent up-the-middle defense.
Wilkel Hernandez, RHP (Rookie-level Arizona League)
The Angels signed Hernandez out of Venezuela for $125,000 in July of 2015 because of his loose arm and projectable body. He brushed 90 mph with his fastball back then, and sat between 92-94 mph during the 2017 fall instructional league. He also showed a solid changeup and feel to spin a curveball as well. His changeup is far ahead of the breaking ball at this point. Speaking about both Hernandez and righthander Jose Soriano in October, Eppler said: "There's a lot to dream on there, both with body, delivery and arm action. . . . In Wilkel's case, refinement of the breaking ball has been a point of emphasis this instructional league." Hernandez pitched primarily in the Arizona League this season, and went 4-1, 2.64 with 44 strikeouts in 44.1 innings.
Troy Montgomery, OF (Double-A Mobile)
Montgomery isn’t a guy who will make evaluators salivate, but he has an interesting blend of skills to become a useful fourth outfielder in the near future. He’s a solid defensive outfielder in both center field and right field with a penchant for the occasional highlight-reel play, and he has an average to a tick better throwing arm. Offensively he heated up after a slow start at low Class A Burlington, then got hot enough to move to high Class A Inland Empire before finishing atDouble-A Mobile. He hit .271/.358/.413 with 13 doubles, eight triples and eight home runs overall. Montgomery is not the biggest guy in the world at 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, but he’s got an intriguing combination of gap power, above-average speed and quality defensive play.