The Angels could use another bat, as Matt Joyce hasn't worked out in their outfield and C.J. Cron isn't getting it done as the designated hitter. According to MLB's Alden Gonzalez, they wanted to pry Josh Reddick from their division rivals, the Athletics, but didn't have the resources to do so. Gonzalez reported that the Angels' (and then-GM Jerry Dipoto's) solution was to get the Red Sox involved in a three-way trade to make it happen, but Boston had no interest, and as you know, nothing went down.
It makes all the sense in the world that the Red Sox wouldn't help the Angels out here, and it has nothing to do with the six games separating them in the wild card standings. What, exactly, were the Angels planning to send the Red Sox in return for Reddick? Their farm system is atrocious, and Reddick is still a highly productive outfielder. Reddick can't hit lefties, sure, but he's also batting .288/.346/.463 overall, has one of the strongest arms in the game, and has been worth at least a win defensively in each of the last three seasons according to Baseball Reference's measures.
Reddick isn't a star, but he's a well above-average player who would be the Angels' second-best outfielder behind Mike Trout. So, again: what would the Angels have even sent to the Sox to make up for what Boston would have needed to give Oakland to acquire Reddick?
Photo credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
Chances are good the Angels don't have what it would take, hence the lack of Boston interest. The A's reportedly don't want to move Reddick in the first place, so on top of what would already be a lofty price tag, there might have been a little bit of a "well if you really want him" tax going on there. The Angels lack depth in their lineup and rotation -- the latter an ongoing issue for years now -- and their top prospect entering the season, Andrew Heaney, is now 24 and has a well below-average ERA in Triple-A at his second full stop at the level. Yes, the PCL is tough on pitchers, but Heaney is performing about half-a-run worse than your average PCL arm.
Sean Newcomb is a lefty and a potential mid-rotation starter who has some Jon Lester comps attached to him even though those two things don't seem to make a lot of sense next to each other. He ranked 70th in Baseball America's pre-season top-100 and gets love for his makeup and easy velocity, but with Heaney's struggles, Tyler Skaggs' Tommy John surgery, and the problems in the big-league rotation, who knows if they'd be willing to deal potentially their top pitching prospect. Even if doing so meant getting Reddick back.
Plus, Newcomb is still only in High-A and has control problems that have been an issue since his amateur days, so as promising as he is, there are legitimate concerns about reaching that mid-rotation ceiling, never mind justifying the Lester mentions. That's how someone with all of Newcomb's high marks still ends up ranking 70th on a top-100, and doesn't end up in something like Baseball Prospectus' mid-season top-50 even though he has a sub-three ERA as of this writing.
Even if they were willing to move the southpaw, Newcomb is still something of a lonely return considering Reddick would likely have cost the Sox more than just that -- the Sox shouldn't be involved in a trade just to replace the prospect they've lost that they didn't need to lose in the first place: they should get something for helping to facilitate the deal, or at least upgrade on what they sent out in order to make it worth the effort. This isn't a suggestion that the Sox would need to pull off some kind of one-sided, fantasy baseball-style trade to justify even answering Dipoto's texts. It's just that the Red Sox have prospects you forget about on a daily basis with more promise than most of the Angels' best, so what's the appeal here?
There is a reason the Angels needed to trade Howie Kendrick and Mark Trumbo the last two offseasons in order to try to get some young, controllable pitching. They didn't have the prospects to flip, but they did have the lineup depth, so they used that to get what they could not through the draft or international signings. Now, the lineup could use an assist with the Angels trying to maintain their slim wild card lead, and as they still don't have the prospects to move nor the pitching they hoped they were trading for, they're stuck hoping Joyce or Cron can turn things around. Or that the Sox or A's were feeling charitable. They aren't, so unless Bill Stoneman can figure something out now that Dipoto's gone, this is the last you'll hear of this failed transaction.