The Los Angeles Angels placed nearly a quarter of their roster on waivers Tuesday, including starter Lucas Giolito, relievers Matt Moore and Reynaldo Lopez, and outfielders Hunter Renfroe and Randal Grichuk, prompting a flurry of intrigue leading up to Thursday when the teams that win the claims will be revealed.
The use of waivers, in which the Angels essentially will give away the players for nothing but salary relief in return, stunned the baseball industry. Between now and the expiration of the waiver period Thursday, teams can place claims on players. The team with the worst record on Thursday will be rewarded the player — and because he will be on the team’s roster before Sept. 1, all claimed players will be eligible for the postseason.
If all five players are claimed, the Angels stand to save around $7 million in salary over the season’s final month — enough, perhaps, to push their payroll beneath the $233 million competitive-balance-tax threshold. If a player is not claimed, he simply would clear waivers and remain under contract with the Angels. Regardless of who ends up where, considering where the Angels were a month ago, a dump of this magnitude is almost unfathomable.
Late on July 26, the same day the Angels decided not to trade superstar free-agent-to-be Shohei Ohtani, they acquired Giolito and Lopez from the Chicago White Sox for top prospect Edgar Quero, a 20-year-old catcher, and left-handed pitching prospect Ky Bush. The price was heavy, but the Angels were indicating to the industry: They were pushing for a postseason spot to help convince Ohtani to remain in Anaheim.
Four days later, they dealt for Grichuk and first baseman C.J. Cron in a deal with the Colorado Rockies.
Since the Aug. 1 deadline, the Angels have a 7-17 record, the worst in the majors. Ohtani is no longer pitching, as an MRI showed a tear in his right ulnar collateral ligament. Mike Trout, their star outfielder, came off the injured list, played one game and returned with pain in his surgically repaired hamate bone. And the Angels, who were a half-game ahead of Seattle on deadline day, now are 63-69, while the Mariners, at 75-56, reside at the top of the American League West division.