The problem with the Angels returning items purchased a month ago is not so much that they only got back 50 cents on the dollar. It’s that they didn’t get back the players they forked over in trades.
So while they saved $2.427 million when the Cleveland Guardians claimed starter Lucas Giolito and reliever Reynaldo López off waivers Thursday, the two highly regarded minor league prospects they sent to the Chicago White Sox at the trade deadline for them will remain on the South Side.
Four Angels players placed on waivers were claimed. The Guardians also claimed reliever Matt Moore, saving the Angels $1.3 million; and the Cincinnati Reds claimed outfielder Hunter Renfroe, saving the Angels $2.1 million.
In addition to saving the $5.827 million the four players are paid in September salary, the Angels also saved $1.165 million in what they’d have paid in luxury tax of 20%. It’s unclear whether the money saved brings Angels payroll under the luxury tax threshold of $233 million, although they are close enough that the tax wouldn’t be burdensome.
A fifth player placed on waivers by the Angels — outfielder Randal Grichuk — reportedly was not claimed, meaning the team must pay the remaining $1.6 million of his salary.
What is clear is that the Angels saved chump change for the players claimed while the cost in prospects to acquire them might be immeasurable. And that’s not even considering the prospects they could have obtained had they traded Shohei Ohtani at the deadline.
The trade for Renfroe also triggers seller’s remorse. Reliever Elvis Peguero, one of three pitchers the Angels shipped last November to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for the slugger, has emerged as a bullpen stalwart after refining his sinker to get more vertical movement.
Considered expendable after struggling to a 6.75 ERA in 17 appearances in 2022 for the Angels, Peguero, 26, has posted a 3.42 ERA in 53 appearances in Milwaukee. He won’t be arbitration eligible until 2026, making him a tremendous bargain.
Conclusion? The Angels gave up too much for Renfroe’s 19 home runs and a .242 batting average, even if the other pitchers in the trade — Janson Junk and Adam Seminaris — never pan out.
Quero, 20, vaulted to the top of Angels prospects lists after batting .312 with 17 home runs and 75 RBIs at Class-A Inland Empire in 2022 even though he was more than two years younger than the average California League player.
The Cuban import hasn’t hit as well at double-A this season but continues to exhibit exceptional bat-to-ball skills, having struck out only 70 times while drawing 67 walks in 415 plate appearances. Most impressively, the average double-A player is 3.6 years older than Quero, who is ranked as the No. 3 prospect in the White Sox farm system by MLB.com.
The Angels drafted Bush, a 6-foot-6, 240-pound left-hander, in the second round of the 2021 draft out of St. Mary’s College. Last season he was 7-4 with a 3.67 ERA in 21 double-A starts and pitched in the Futures Game, climbing to No. 2 behind Quero on Angels’ prospect rankings.
An oblique injury set Bush, 23, back early this season and he’s exhibited command issues in 11 starts since his return, but MLB.com still has him ranked as the White Sox’s No. 9 prospect.
Conclusion? The Angels overpaid for Giolito, the Harvard-Westlake High product who was a disappointing 1-5 with a 6.89 ERA in six starts, and López, who notched two saves in 13 appearances since the trade.
The Guardians and Reds — who also claimed New York Yankees outfielder Harrison Bader — were able to snag multiple players because waiver priority is determined by reverse order of winning percentage.
Teams with zero chance of making the playoffs had no incentive to claim a player who would only be with the team for another month. But teams on the fringe, somehow believing they can earn a wild-card berth — or in Cleveland’s case a division title — despite steep odds, had first dibs of players on the waiver wire. The Guardians were the first of those teams, and the Reds were third, following the Miami Marlins.