Aybar, Kendrick reportedly available …

Scott Downs has long been considered to be the most likely player the Angels move this month, and as someone familiar with their situation said recently: “If they make only one trade this month, I wouldn’t be surprised.”

Long-term, though, the Angels know they have to improve their rotation. They know the best way to do that is to trade for starting pitching, and they know their best assets to trade — given the state of their farm system — are offensive players. Which is why the recent report by Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan, who said Sunday that the Angels have made Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar available in exchange for a cost-controlled starting pitcher, falls right in line with their plan.

Such a big trade may have to wait until the offseason, when there’s more time and more teams can get in the mix. But you never know who will get desperate this time of year and swoop in with a great offer.

The potential free-agent market isn’t necessarily flush with starting-pitching talent. Ervin Santana, Ricky Nolasco, A.J. Burnett, Bronson Arroyo, Matt Garza and Vargas are the only names that really stick out — and the Angels already have more than $131 million in salary commitments for 2014. That includes $18.6 million owed to the Yankees for Vernon Wells and does not include the potential arbitration cases for Jerome Williams, Kevin Jepsen, Mark Trumbo, Ernesto Frieri and Peter Bourjos.

Kendrick (.299/.339/.446) and Aybar (.283/.310/.389) both signed pretty team-friendly extensions in 2012. Beyond this year, Kendrick is signed for two years and $18.85 million and has limited no-trade protection, allowing him to block deals to 12 clubs this year. Aybar is owed $25.5 million from 2014-16 but can’t block deals.

Trading them, of course, would mean replacing them. The Angels don’t have anybody ready to man the middle infield on an everyday basis in their organization.

Alden Gonzalez


Alright Cashman, get Howie, AKA Howie Kendrick, Yankee Killer. We need a 3rd baseman, now that Arod will be done until 2015 (if ever). Always liked this guy. He’ll play the hot corner well.

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