The Angels entered Thursday one game back of a wild-card spot in the American League, and by noon local time made an impact move to try and get over the top.
The Angels acquired veteran slugger Justin Upton from the Tigers in exchange for minor league righthander Grayson Long and a player to be named later or cash in the first major deal of Aug. 31 waiver trade deadline. On Sept. 15, the Tigers acquired low Class A righthander Elvin Rodriguez as the player to be named later.
Upton has four years and $88.5 million remaining on his contract but can also opt out after this season.
Grayson Long, RHP
The Angels drafted Long in the third round out of Texas A&M in 2015, and he has overcome various stops and starts due to minor injuries to reach the upper minors and excel. Long's 2.52 ERA leads the Double-A Southern League and his .226 opponent average ranks fourth. The physical 6-foot-5, 230-pound Long operates primarily with a 90-91 mph fastball more notable for its life than velocity. It's a surprisingly hard-to-hit fastball with glove-side run, and he commands it well. It's a pitch that plays up enough that he can survive on it when his secondary stuff isn't working. Long has made strides with his slider this year, while his changeup is more of a show-me-pitch against lefthanders and not a true weapon. Long has also improved his mound presence after previously being criticized for not responding to adversity well. Importantly, he has held up strong over 133.2 innings this year after entering the year with just 84.2 innings pitched his first two professional seasons.
“Grayson has been a standout player this season in the Southern League, that features some of the best prospects in baseball," Tigers general manager Al Avila said in a release. “Grayson is a workhorse-type starter who throws strikes and has a great makeup. Our scouts project him to be a starter at the Major League level.”
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|Elvin Rodriguez, RHP
Rodriguez is a raw project in every sense, but has progressively taken steps forward since signing as a 16-year-old teenager in 2014. He had most accomplished season this year, earning Rookie-level Pioneer League pitcher of the year honors and finishing with three starts at low Class A Burlington. Rodriguez is a pitchability strike-thrower who sits 88-89 mph with his fastball and can run it up to 92. He fills up the strike zone and repeats his delivery well, although scouts are split how much more velocity he is capable of adding. His curveball has been his go-to pitch and shows average potential. His changeup is extremely raw, but evaluators see the ingredients for him to develop it into a usable pitch. Scouts generally see Rodriguez’s future as an up-and-down bullpen arm, but Angels’ pitching coaches were always high on him and believed he could be more as he develops physically.
Justin Upton, of
Upton has bounced back in a big way from a disappointing 2016, ranking sixth in the American League in OPS (.904) and tied for 13th in home runs (28). Overall his .279/.362/.542 line represents a massive upgrade from Angels left fielders, who hit a combined .243/.318/.340 this season. Shortly after the trade was reported, Cameron Maybin, the Angels primary left fielder this year, was claimed off waivers by the Astros.