The Angels put six players on waivers, according to a person with knowledge of the moves not authorized to speak publicly, signaling that they have shifted their sights to the future rather than trying to continue pushing for a playoff spot.
Starting pitcher Lucas Giolito, their biggest trade deadline acquisition, and outfielder Hunter Renfroe, who's tied for second on the team in home runs, are the biggest names who could catch on with other teams for the final month, along with relievers Reynaldo López, Dominic Leone and Matt Moore and outfielder Randal Grichuk.
ESPN's Jeff Passan was the first to report the news. USA Today's Bob Nightengale reported that Leone was being waived.
Players placed on waivers after the Aug. 1 trade deadline can be claimed by any team, which then would be responsible for their salary for the remainder of the season.
If the Angels get rid of some of these contracts, they would be in a better position to avoid paying a luxury tax. The tax threshold is $233 million. The Angels’ 40-man payroll is about $241 million, per COTs Baseball Contracts. If all six players were claimed, the Angels could save an estimated $7.5 million.
They could get more out of the moves than some savings.
Shohei Ohtani, the Angels’ two-way star, is eligible to become a free agent after the season. If he leaves, the compensatory draft pick the Angels receive would come at the end of the second round if they do not pay a luxury tax. If the Angels pay a luxury tax, the compensatory pick would come at the end of the fourth round. In this year's draft, that would have meant the difference between the 68th and 132nd pick.
If the Angels pay a luxury tax next season — they almost certainly will if they re-sign Ohtani — they would pay a penalty on the amount of their payroll above $237 million. The base tax would be 20% of the amount over $237 million if they do not pay a luxury tax this year; 30% if they do.
The Angels acquired five of the players placed on waivers by trade: Renfroe in the offseason from the Milwaukee Brewers for pitchers Janson Junk and Elvis Peguero and minor leaguer Adam Seminaris; Giolito and López a week before this year's deadline from the Chicago White Sox for top-100 catching prospect Edgar Quero and pitching prospect Ky Bush; Grichuk two days before the deadline in a deal with the Colorado Rockies that also sent C.J. Cron to the Angels for pitching prospects Mason Albright and Jake Madden; and Leone right before the deadline from the New York Met, for infield prospect Jeremiah Jackson.
Moore signed as a free agent during spring training. All are set to become free agents.
The Angels acquired all these players in an effort to get to the playoffs for the first time since 2014. The results have not been what they had hoped.
The Angels are 63-70, and after Tuesday's 12-7 loss at Philadelphia they sat 12 games behind Houston for the final wild-card spot in the American League.
The Angels will know Thursday, an off day on their schedule, whether any or all of these players have been claimed. For now, all remain on the Angels’ roster. Renfroe and Grichuk were in the starting lineup Tuesday.
Times staff writer Bill Shaikin contributed to this report.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.