Angels’ chances of landing SP ‘below average’

The non-waiver Trade Deadline is now only five days away, and the Angels continue to work diligently to find a reliable starter for their rotation or an additional weapon for their bullpen, or both.

Can first-year general manager Jerry Dipoto work his magic to shore up some glaring holes on the Angels’ staff?

The chips are stacked against him, it seems.

A source with knowledge of the team’s thinking described the Angels’ chances of acquiring a starter as “below average and diminishing” on Thursday. The asking prices are too high, the competition for pitching is too intense – largely due to the additional Wild Card that has more teams in the hunt than ever – and the Angels don’t have an abundance of intriguing prospects to offer up.

That, and a $155 million payroll with little wiggle room, has made the Angels’ search for a starter “an uphill task,” the source said – before adding, “But don’t underestimate Jerry.”

The Angels continue to search for additional bullpen pieces, particularly a cost-controlled lefty. But it’s starting pitching – the one area that seemed rock solid at the start of the year – that seems most necessary considering the struggles of Ervin Santana and the recent back troubles of Dan Haren.

But how many feasible upgrades are out there?

Cole Hamels has agreed to a lucrative extension to stay in Philadelphia, the Marlins seem unwilling to part ways with Josh Johnson, Wandy Rodriguez has moved on to the Pirates, Matt Garza has some elbow issues, Ryan Dempster seemingly only wants to pitch for the Dodgers and Francisco Liriano is fresh off giving up seven runs in 2 2/3 innings, putting his ERA at 5.31.

That makes the competition for the likes of James Shields (signed pretty affordably through 2014) and Zack Greinke (free-agent-to-be) quite fierce.

It would be a shock, a source said, if the Angels were to move Garrett Richards, who’s 24, cost-controlled for five more seasons and boasts a ton of upside. Young center fielder Peter Bourjos, a reserve with Mike Trout now in the fold, is perhaps their biggest chip – though Dipoto has publicly said he’s unwilling to trade him because he’s still a big part of their future. Then there are prospects like middle infielder Jean Segura, catcher Hank Conger, first baseman C.J. Cron and pitcher John Hellweg, among others, who could be expendable in the right package.

More on Angels.com soon.

Alden Gonzalez

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