Much of the attention surrounding the Colorado Rockies' trio of outfielders allegedly available this winter has come down on Carlos Gonzalez, and for good reason: the most expensive and ostensibly most productive of the bunch, a CarGo trade would be the proverbial other shoe just waiting to drop after Colorado's deal to send Troy Tulowitzki to Toronto back in July.
But Friday afternoon, another Rockies outfielder took center stage, at least according to the Orange County Register's Jeff Fletcher. The Los Angeles Angels' beat writer tweeted his thoughts about the American League club pursuing Charlie Blackmon in a trade:
Sounds like Angels still not really involved with FA OFs like Upton, Cespedes, Fowler, Parra. Could trade for someone like Charlie Blackmon— Jeff Fletcher (@JeffFletcherOCR) January 8, 2016
That in and of itself is interesting, of course, but would seem to be speculation; the Angels want an outfielder, they don't want to pay big money to guys like Yoenis Cespedes or even Gerardo Parra, and the Rockies have arbitration and pre-arbitration outfielders on the trading block.
But Fletcher went a little deeper than just speculation, tweeting back to a follower who had asked the sportswriter if something had brought on the Blackmon tweet:
@Chip_GI11 Nope. Just passing on what I heard from a source— Jeff Fletcher (@JeffFletcherOCR) January 9, 2016
Clearly, it doesn't sound like trade talks are happening right now, but "passing on what I heard from a source" is certainly a level or two beyond sheer speculation, and that obviously (rightfully) piqued our interest.
Fletcher went further still and hypothesized what it might take for the Angels to land Blackmon, while also noting his belief the Angels are interested in the outfielder:
@MLBandUFCfan Something like Tropeano and Bedrosian— Jeff Fletcher (@JeffFletcherOCR) January 8, 2016
For those unfamiliar with the Angels, the two players Fletcher mentions are Nick Tropeano and Cam Bedrosian — both young, pre-arbitration pitchers who are under team control until 2022.
Tropeano, 25, has appeared in 12 Major League games (11 starts) over the last two seasons, tossing a combined 59⅓ for the Astros and Angels. A fifth-round draft pick out of Stony Brook University in 2011, the right-handed pitcher shot through the minor leagues in Houston's system until coming to the Angels' organization in a November 2014 trade that sent Hank Conger back to the Astros.
Tropeano struggled in 2015 at Triple-A Salt Lake, but he entered that season the organization's sixth-best prospect, according to MLB.com. In his brief big league career, he's logged 7.7 K/9 against just 2.9 BB/9 with a 4-5 record, a 4.10 ERA (2.86 FIP), and just 0.3 HR/9. Across 564 career minor league innings, Tropeano is 34-31 with a 3.49 ERA, 9.3 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, and just 0.8 HR/9.
Bedrosian, 24, was the Angels' first-round draft pick in 2010 out of a high school in Georgia, and he's made 51 relief appearances for the big league club across the last two summers. In 52⅔ innings of Major League work, Bedrosian is 1-1 with a 5.81 ERA (4.20 FIP), 9.2 K/9, but an alarming 5.3 BB/9. In 238⅓ minor league innings, he's fared slightly better, logging 9.8 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9, while giving up just 8.0 H/9 and 0.4 HR/9.
After missing all of 2011 due to elbow surgery, and then starting 21 games in 2012 at Low-A Cedar Rapids, Bedrosian was converted to the bullpen by the Halos to begin 2013 and he rose through their system — and the Arizona Fall League — quite quickly. As a reliever, Bedrosian is a hard thrower, pairing a 94.4 mph fastball with a 93.3 mph cutter and an 82.5 mph slider, according to FanGraphs.
Beyond Tropeano and Bedrosian, Ryan Schoppe previously examined in depth some of the Angels' best prospects, though admittedly with the thought of a prospect return in the event of a Gonzalez trade. Obviously, with Blackmon, trade returns would be different — and Fletcher knows the Angels well enough to better assume their intent more than most if they would swap a Major League-ready pitcher or two for an outfielder like Blackmon.
Again, there's no indication the Angels and Rockies are currently talking trades, whether for Blackmon or anyone else, but it bears monitoring pitchers the Angels could send over to Colorado in a potential deal the next few weeks as the hot stove's market of outfielders continues to shift around.