Angels must decide whether to deal starters

Shoemaker, Santiago and Tropeano likely candidates if trade is made

Angels must decide whether to deal starters

ANAHEIM -- Angels starters Hector Santiago, Matt Shoemaker and Jered Weaver combined to give up a single run in 23 innings during a sweep of the White Sox this weekend, a stretch in which they allowed 18 baserunners and recorded 21 strikeouts.

Starting pitching has been a major issue for the Angels, but it is the department that will garner the most interest from contending teams leading up to the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

And for the Angels, dealing a starting pitcher may not be an easy call.

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Owner Arte Moreno is said to have no interest in a rebuild and wants the club to be competitive next season, even though a nearly-maxed-out budget, razor-thin farm system and shallow free-agent class will make that extremely difficult. The only way that can happen is if first-year general manager Billy Eppler retains starting pitching.

Right now the only guarantees for next year's rotation barring a trade are Shoemaker, Santiago, Nick Tropeano and Tyler Skaggs, though top pitching prospect Nate Smith may also factor into that mix.

Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Tim Lincecum and Jhoulys Chacin will all be free agents. Andrew Heaney will spend the entire year recovering from Tommy John surgery, and Garrett Richards may do the same if stem-cell therapy does not work.

Weaver's strong start

Trading a starter or two would force the Angels to acquire another in the offseason, either by trading what few prospects they have or diving into a free-agent market that is currently headlined by Rich Hill, a 36-year-old journeyman who is enjoying a breakout season with the A's.

Chances are that one -- and only one -- of the Angels' starters will be dealt this month, with Shoemaker, Santiago and Tropeano seemingly the likely candidates.

Weaver, a lifelong Angel, is a free agent at season's end and has put together back-to-back quality starts. But he also has a full no-trade clause, and teams are trepidatious about how the 33-year-old's mid-80s fastball plays anywhere outside of Angel Stadium.

Tropeano, 25, has five full seasons of control after this one and entered Monday's start with a 3.12 ERA in 66 1/3 innings, giving up three earned runs or fewer in 10 of 12 starts.

Shoemaker is 29, but he won't be a free agent until after the 2020 season and has been one of the game's best pitchers since the middle of May, with a 2.55 ERA, 93 strikeouts and 11 walks in 81 1/3 innings.

Santiago, 28, is a free agent after next season, but he also has experience out of the bullpen and hasn't given up an earned run in 20 innings this month.

Teams will continue to call about all three.

Alden Gonzalez has covered the Angels for MLB.com since 2012. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.