SAN FRANCISCO — The Los Angeles Angels responded to Shohei Ohtani’s UCL injury and the team’s fall out of the playoff picture with a stunning salary dump fire sale on Tuesday.
The team placed starter Lucas Giolito, relievers Reynaldo López and former Giants Matt Moore and Dominic Leone, as well as outfielders Hunter Renfroe and Randal Grichuk on waivers, according to ESPN. This presents an opportunity for the San Francisco Giants to add one of those players while only having to pay what remains on their contract. All would be rentals on expiring contracts, set to be free agents in the offseason.
Perhaps the Angels are also motivated by the potential savings of more than $7 million if all the players get claimed. That would be significant because it would take owner Arte Moreno’s team under the luxury tax threshold.
Because the Giants wouldn’t have to offer up any assets in exchange, it’d be worth exploring jumping into the waiver claim line for one (or more?) of the listed players if they’re adamant about making a postseason push. Their mediocre record may give them an edge over other contenders.
New rules after the 2019 season stipulate that a player placed on waivers is irrevocable, meaning the Angels cannot take a player off waivers for a team willing to make a trade to jump the line. The team that gets each player will be determined by reverse-order record, so the team with the worst current record that places a claim on a player will receive him. The players will be postseason eligible if they make it to the 40-man roster before Aug. 31 and active rosters expand to 28 players on Sept. 1.
So, technically, the Oakland A’s — with the worst MLB record — could claim all the players on waivers. But why would a tanking team do that? The San Diego Padres, Miami Marlins and perhaps the Cincinnati Reds are the likely contenders with worse records than the Giants.
The Giants haven’t had robust starting rotation all season so Giolito, a top-tier starter despite his 4.45 ERA, may be attractive. He’d certainly jump to the head of the rotation alongside Logan Webb to create a formidable group with Alex Cobb, the emerging Kyle Harrison and perhaps even Tristan Beck.
There’s some roster math to consider, too. Do the Giants want to add more outfielders? Mitch Haniger’s return from the IL on Tuesday and Mike Yastrzemski’s imminent return make the outfield picture a bit too crowded for a new face unless the team decides right-handers Renfroe or Grichuk could add the oomph they’ve lacked.
With rosters expanding from 26 to 28 players on Friday, perhaps the Giants would get in on the bidding for some pitching help out of lefty Moore, a former Giant, and Lopez as bullpen additions.
Other teams looking to shed salary are putting some big names on waivers, too. The Yankees will have outfielder Harrison Bader on waivers, the Mets right-handed pitcher Carlos Carrasco and the White Sox right handed pitcher Mike Clevinger. The Tigers will place reliever José Cisnero on waivers, according to The Athletic.
Things could get interesting.
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Haniger was activated off the 60-day IL after healing from a right arm fracture and was placed right into the lineup for Tuesday’s game, playing left field. Outfielder Heliot Ramos was optioned back to Triple-A Sacramento to make room on the active roster and outfielder Bryce Johnson was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.
Yastrzemski, out with a left hamstring strain, is likely to return to the lineup in the coming days.