Halos' expectations to contend cloud Deadline

Halos' expectations to contend cloud Deadline

KANSAS CITY -- Hector Santiago took the mound at Kauffman Stadium on Monday night in front of a handful of rival scouts who were fixated mostly on him, hoping to decipher whether their contending clubs should take a run at the young left-hander this week.

The Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline is only seven days away now, and several Angels pitchers are already being discussed.

The Marlins have reached out about Santiago, according to MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi. The Giants have reached out about closer Huston Street, a report in the San Francisco Chronicle stated. And as the days go by, starter Matt Shoemaker, reliever Joe Smith, third baseman Yunel Escobar and several others will be mentioned, as well.

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The Angels -- 11 games below .500 and 13 1/2 out of first place after Monday's 6-2 win over the Royals -- are undoubtedly in a position to part with veteran players.

But their path remains hazy because their desire to contend next season remains steadfast.

"Our objectives haven't waned at all based on anything recent," Angels general manager Billy Eppler said. "It's more the model of this organization, and the model of what we want to continue to be as a contending team, and reach towards those championship standards. We're going to always keep our eyes on that, and remain focused on that throughout all the noise and fog."

The Angels can get the biggest return by moving a starting pitcher, whether it's Santiago or Shoemaker. But they may only be willing to do that if their return includes an upper-level starting-pitching prospect, either in that trade or another, because the Angels badly need arms to fill out next year's rotation.

Shoemaker, Santiago and Tyler Skaggs, who debuts on Tuesday, are the only current starters on track to be part of next year's rotation, unless you wish to include the Angels' top pitching prospect, Nate Smith, who's still developing in Triple-A.

The Angels aren't necessarily disinclined to move a starter, but they do need coverage so that they don't have to fill three rotation spots via free agency this winter.

"I wouldn't call it worrying," Eppler said when asked if he's concerned about his ability to fill out next year's staff, "but I would just say we're all mindful of what we have and what we expect to have, and what we perceive we can go out and get, whether it's free agency or trade-wise."

Eppler remained coy about the Angels' plans this week, saying merely that he's "always going to be opportunistic" and that a move is "really hard to forecast."

The Angels will face challenges to be competitive next season. A big chunk of the money they free up -- mainly with Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson heading for free agency -- will probably be reallocated for arbitration-eligible players. They'll still be paying the Rangers the majority of Josh Hamilton's 2017 salary, will still have very little depth in their farm system, and could have up to three young pitchers -- Andrew Heaney, Garrett Richards and Nick Tropeano -- spend the entire year recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Asked what makes him believe the Angels can be competitive next season, Eppler pointed to the offense, which ranks fifth in the Majors in runs per game since the start of May.

"There's young players here that are controlled moving into next year, and hopefully we can continue to supplement around those guys," Eppler added.

"I think rebuilding and retooling are different," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We're absolutely going to have to retool to get to a higher level. And not necessarily taking a step backwards. But if you look at the way our starting pitchers have been decimated, there's no doubt you're going to have to retool there. But as far as a rebuild? Absolutely not. We all expect to contend through this year, and definitely contend next year."

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.