Kelvin Kuo/Associated Press
The Los Angeles Angels find themselves in a frustrating situation with a little over a week to go until the Aug. 31 trade deadline.
Los Angeles fell to 8-19 after a loss to the Oakland Athletics on Friday night, and are all but out of playoff contention. The record would seem to suggest the Angels will be sellers. However, the Halos signed Anthony Rendon to a massive deal this offseason and are committed to becoming more competitive with superstar center fielder Mike Trout in the midst of his prime years.
It is possible the Angels look to make a play for additional pitching at the deadline. While L.A.’s offseason acquisition of Dylan Bundy has paid dividends, the Julio Teheran signing has not. The back end of the rotation is struggling, and Shohei Ohtani is unlikely to pitch again because of elbow issues.
Perhaps acquiring a controllable arm would give the Angels a better chance of contending in the coming years. But for now, L.A. will also listen to offers for some of its positional stars.
Fletcher might be less heralded than the likes of Trout and Rendon, but he has been an incredibly valuable member of the Angels infield all the same. Fletcher is also off to a big start this year.
The 26-year-old from Orange County entered Friday night’s game hitting close to .300, with three homers and a 122 OPS+. Fletcher has been just as spectacular with the glove. He has filled in at shortstop for Andrelton Simmons for the majority of the year and is tied for the most defensive runs saved (DRS) at the position, per FanGraphs.
Fletcher even spent some of spring training learning to play right field, which only adds to his value as a utility guy capable of supplying plus defense at multiple positions.
Angels manager Joe Maddon gushed over Fletcher this spring, per Jesse Borek of MLB.com:
“I know he’s going to play some right field. He’s going to play some second base. He’ll give [Andrelton] Simmons a rest at shortstop. He can give Rendon a rest at third. … Guys like him, with everybody being healthy, then you have to start planning on how to get him in there. Guys do get banged up, guys need rest and then all of a sudden he’s playing more than you thought. But I want to get him in the game as often as possible because I think he’s that good.”
On the one hand, Fletcher is the kind of player who could fetch the Angels a decent return.
Fletcher is under team control through 2024, per Baseball Reference, and he also ranks ninth in terms of fWAR among shortstops since the start of last season. For reference, that is higher than stars such as Corey Seager, Trea Turner and Gleyber Torres.
There is a chance the Angels could goad a potential suitor into giving up a pair of marquee prospects so as to improve a farm system MLB.com ranked as the 25th-best in baseball entering the 2020 season.
Simultaneously, Fletcher seems like a crucial member of L.A.’s core moving forward.
Simmons will be a free agent this offseason, and it is possible the Angels simply elect to make Fletcher their full-time shortstop so they can spend on pitching upgrades.
Fletcher is one of the Halos’ best assets. But he is unlikely to be on the move barring a massive offer, regardless of where the Angels stand in the next week.
All stats obtained via Baseball Reference, unless otherwise noted.