Should the Angels Trade Kole Calhoun?

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Updated: December 10, 2016

It’s been a quiet offseason for the Angels, for one reason or another. The Halos are staying away from the big name free agents, not willing to pony up the cash it’s taking to sign these players. Josh Reddick signed for $52 million over four years with the Houston Astros, Ian Desmond signed for $70 million over five years with the Colorado Rockies, and Dexter Fowler signed for $82.5 million over five years with the St. Louis Cardinals, all hefty price tags.

You can’t fully blame the Angels for staying away from these types of values. While these players are all valuable in their own right, none of them are sure-thing superstars, and shelling out big money just because you can is never a good idea. Right, Josh Hamilton? Anyway, the most interesting transaction for an outfielder is the trade between the Chicago White Sox and Washington Nationals, where the Sox sent outfielder Adam Eaton to Washington for pitchers Lucas Giolito, their top prospect and a consensus top five prospect in all of baseball, Reynaldo Lopez, their third ranked prospect, and Dane Dunning.

That’s quite a haul for a player like Eaton. Eaton is a very good player, but he’s no Andrew McCutchen, and it makes you wonder what the Angels could get for a guy like Kole Calhoun, who is a similar type of player. In fact, a cursory glance at their respective careers shows that they are remarkably similar players. Both are essentially the same age, with the same amount of time spent in the majors.

Neither was an especially touted prospect, but both have put up decent overall numbers in almost exactly the same amount of games and roughly the same amount of plate appearances. Both players have almost identical slash lines, with Eaton holding small advantages in batting average and on-base percentage, while Calhoun holds a decent advantage in slugging percentage.

Calhoun also holds a significant advantage in home runs, although Eaton closed the gap a bit in 2016, hitting fourteen dingers to Calhoun’s eighteen, which was a step down from the twenty-six he hit the year before. Calhoun did improve his on-base, OPS, and OPS+ from the year previous, though, and appears to be a player still rounding out a complete game.

Eaton holds a decided advantage in career WAR 16.1 to 10.9, respectively, although much of that is tied to a perceived defensive advantage. Most Angel fans who watch Calhoun daily would agree that the advanced stats vastly underrate how good of an all around defender Calhoun is. I would say the advantage Eaton appears to hold here is misleading, at best. Overall, we have two almost identical players in just about every respect.

Where Calhoun does begin to separate himself, however, is his contract. Eaton is a great value with three guaranteed years at less than $20 million combined, with two more team option years that would combine to an additional $20 million. Calhoun, however, is under club control for the next three years and just became arbitration eligible; he made only $3.4 million last year. Calhoun is a great value, with an all around game that includes intangibles like leadership and grit, if you’re into that sort of thing, and you have to think the Angels should at least see what they could receive if Eaton brought back what he did. Teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, and San Francisco Giants are still in need of an outfielder and have the assets to put together an Eaton-like deal.

The Angels biggest need right now is their farm system; while off to a good start so far, Billy Eppler desperately needs to infuse every level of the minors with young talent. After watching the White Sox cash in like they did, it would behoove the Angels to at least see what they could get for Calhoun. If they can get something close to what the White Sox did, they need to pull the trigger. While trading Kole would hurt, it could give the organization a boost it desperately needs.

Kole Calhoun

Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB Pos Awards
2012 24 LAA AL 21 25 23 2 4 1 0 0 1 1 0 2 6 .174 .240 .217 .457 31 5 0 0 0 0 1 9/7D
2013 25 LAA AL 58 222 195 29 55 7 2 8 32 2 2 21 41 .282 .347 .462 .808 128 90 6 1 0 5 0 9/3
2014 26 LAA AL 127 537 493 90 134 31 3 17 58 5 3 38 104 .272 .325 .450 .776 123 222 5 2 2 2 0 *9/3
2015 27 LAA AL 159 686 630 78 161 23 2 26 83 4 1 45 164 .256 .308 .422 .731 104 266 6 5 2 4 1 *9/3D GG
2016 28 LAA AL 157 672 594 91 161 35 5 18 75 2 3 67 118 .271 .348 .438 .786 117 260 10 6 0 5 0 *9/D
5 Yrs 522 2142 1935 290 515 97 12 69 249 14 9 173 433 .266 .328 .436 .764 114 843 27 14 4 16 2
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/9/2016.
Adam Eaton
Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB Pos Awards
2012 23 ARI NL 22 103 85 19 22 3 2 2 5 2 3 14 15 .259 .382 .412 .794 114 35 0 3 1 0 0 8/7
2013 24 ARI NL 66 277 250 40 63 10 4 3 22 5 2 17 44 .252 .314 .360 .674 86 90 4 6 3 1 0 78/9D
2014 25 CHW AL 123 538 486 76 146 26 10 1 35 15 9 43 83 .300 .362 .401 .763 120 195 4 5 2 2 0 *8
2015 26 CHW AL 153 689 610 98 175 28 9 14 56 18 8 58 131 .287 .361 .431 .792 122 263 5 14 5 2 2 *8/D
2016 27 CHW AL 157 706 619 91 176 29 9 14 59 14 5 63 115 .284 .362 .428 .790 119 265 6 14 7 3 2 *98/D7 MVP-19
5 Yrs 521 2313 2050 324 582 96 34 34 177 54 27 195 388 .284 .357 .414 .771 116 848 19 42 18 8 4
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/9/2016.

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