The Angels are making a splash on the last day of August before the waiver deadline, as, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, they are reportedly close to acquiring outfielder Juston Upton from the Tigers. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweeted that pitcher Grayson Long will be going back to Detroit.
Upton can opt-out after the 2017 season, so there is a risk he leaves the Angels. However, Los Angeles is likely mostly thinking about the present: They’re 11 games behind the Astros in the AL West but are sitting just one game back behind the Twins for the second wild card spot in the AL.
And with the Twins dealing with a hamate injury to outfielder Byron Buxton, who has helped propel them to second-half relevance and the wild card spot they have a tenuous hold on, now is the time for the Angels to upgrade.
That’s also true because Aug. 31 is the last day a trade can be made that will allow the acquisition to play on the postseason roster. Getting Upton on Thursday instead of Friday could make a huge difference for the Halos. They have to get to the postseason first, of course, but their chances are much better with Upton in tow.
The 30-year-old has hit .279/.362/.542 in his second season with the Tigers, good for a 136 OPS+ that would rank second among Angels’ hitters, behind only Mike Trout. That’s the thing here: as Grant Brisbee pointed out earlier this week when talking about the disaster that is the AL wild card race, the Angels have exactly two above-average hitters, and they also have Albert Pujols, who is arguably the worst regular in the majors right now despite his 21 homers.
Upton will help bring balance to an outfield that has featured Ben Revere and his paltry offensive contributions in left field more often than not. And if he decides against opting out of his deal because the market for corner bats has potentially dried up, well, the Angels could do a lot worse than $88.5 million spread out over four years for a guy who can actually hit and just turned 30 days ago.