Amid woeful season, Angels players accept their trade-block fate: ‘It is what it is’

It was business as usual in the Angels clubhouse on Thursday before their home series opener with the Texas Rangers. Music streamed through the clubhouse, players and staff milled in and out between the field and the lockers, casual conversation carried on. But given the time of the season, less than a week to the trade deadline, a change seemed increasingly likely for this team.

“It’s just part of what it is,” southpaw Aaron Loup said before the Angels’ game against the Texas Rangers on Thursday. “If you’re on a, I’m gonna hate to say it but, a losing team like we are right now when it comes to this time of the year, typically you end up selling guys and losing guys.

“You hope to be on the other end of it, acquiring guys, playing for wins and playoff spots, but at the end of the day it is what it is.”

The trade deadline this season is 3 p.m. PDT on Aug. 2.

The Angels, who entered Thursday 42-56, went 3-3 in their last road trip, but were still 10 1/2 games out of the third American League wild-card spot and 21 1/2 games behind first place in the American League West.

It is possible the Angels pull off the improbable and make a last ditch effort to a wild-card spot. Miracles in baseball have happened before. But the more likely scenario could mean no matter how the season goes, the same players who started it in Anaheim, might not be around to see it through.

Loup is one of a few Angels players that some writers in the industry have speculated could be trade targets for other teams with better playoff odds.

Other names mentioned include starter Noah Syndergaard and fellow reliever Ryan Tepera.

Angels starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard throws against the Kansas City Royals on Monday.

(Reed Hoffmann / Associated Press)

“I love here and I love the opportunity [general manager Perry Minasian’s] given me,” Loup said on the possibility of being traded, “and the guys in this locker room I’ve had a blast playing with all year. But at the same time, you get a chance to be on a playoff team, playing in the playoffs, it’s something special.”

Loup, who came to the Angels in free agency last year — on a two-year, $17 million contract — after a stellar season with the New York Mets, has, compared to 2021, struggled a bit. This season he has a 4.67 earned-run average with 42 strikeouts in 41 outings. Last season, he had a thin 1.27 ERA with 39 strikeouts in his first 41 outings.

Syndergaard, meanwhile, has shown promise playing in his first full season after nearly two full seasons missed in Tommy John surgery rehab. Though his velocity hasn’t been what it once was — high 90 mph and triple digits on his fastball and sinker — he has adapted and accrued a 3.83 ERA with 64 strikeouts over 15 starts.

Syndergaard, who is in the middle of a one-year, $21 million contract, told reporters in Kansas City something similar to what Loup said when asked about possibly being traded, that he loves being an Angel and a trade would be bittersweet.

Tepera, who was moved at the deadline last season, going from the Chicago Cubs — who had also traded away much of their team — to the White Sox, said this time of the year usually brings a weird feeling depending on a team’s standing.

“Like, you don’t know where you’re going, if you’re going to get traded,” Tepera said. “A lot of things are up in the air… we can’t do anything about it, so we just take it day by day and kind of stick with our job.”

Tepera signed a two-year deal worth $14 million with the Angels in March. Asked about the possibility of being traded at the deadline again, Tepera said: “I’m comfortable here. I signed a two-year deal here for a reason. The ultimate goal was to come here and win, to say the least but, getting older and towards the end of my career, I want to be in a place where we can win. Wherever that takes me, it takes me.”

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