On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Angels added another day of ignominy to their woeful franchise’s history under Arte Moreno by placing starting pitcher Lucas Giolito, relievers Matt Moore and Reynaldo López, plus outfielders Hunter Renfroe and Randal Grichuk on waivers. In a vacuum, they aren’t the biggest names to hit the wire, but they represent how the Angels have slid into a self-made hell.
The Angels had the opportunity at the deadline to obtain young, minor-league talent in exchange for Shohei Ohtani. It’s hard not to blame them for holding out on the fantasy of extending Ohtani’s stay past the 2023 season. They went a step further though. Instead, they hollowed out the minor leagues during a late July winning streak that prompted them to acquire Giolito and López from the White Sox. After their regression, they are on the verge of being eliminated from postseason contention for the ninth straight season.
Gauging a front office’s decision-making isn’t usually so black and white. There are too many gears in motion. Decisions that appear disadvantageous can sometimes result in championships down the line. Few contemporaries could have thought that the San Francisco Warriors’ lopsided trade sending Wilt Chamberlain back to Philadelphia in January 1965 would expedite their rebuild, including an NBA Finals berth in two years, and the 1975 NBA title.
The only unanswered question about the Angels front office’s season is the degree of its ineptitude. Los Angeles sold its future to wiggle their way back into the Wild Card race, in a myopic attempt to show their impending free-agent multi-hyphenate star that it meant business. We’re midway through 2023, and even if you incorporate NBA teams from the 2022-23 sports calendar instead, this was the worst front-office fumble of the year.
The Minnesota Timberwolves’ decision to throw four first-round picks at Utah for Rudy Gobert was an incredibly overconfident gamble. That’s the sort of trade you make when you’re holding a winning hand and want to walk away from the table with a championship. All Tim Connelly did was ruin his legacy after essentially constructing the reigning champions, peeing in the NBA superstar trade market pool for the next decade, and potentially putting Anthony Edwards in a Mike Trout-sized mediocrity hole for his prime.
A front office that wasn’t this inept would have spared Trout the misery by now, but don’t be surprised if they squeeze every ounce of life out of his carcass before dumping him on the Phillies or Rays in 2026. After having Ohtani burn the candle on both ends this season, a shoulder injury has ended his 2023 pitching campaign. For the second time, he’ll win MVP and miss the postseason by a wide margin.
Simultaneously, the New York Mets embarked on the 2023 season with high expectations and deep pockets. On a per-dollar basis, nothing compares to the hundreds of millions owner Steve Cohen threw around last winter, only to wind up choking on the Atlanta Braves tailpipe smoke since June. In defense of New York, they can still go for it in free agency next winter and they were wise not to give $300 million to Carlos Correa. They also received a nice bushel of prospects from the Astros and Rangers, including an Acuña brother. The Mets will make a play on Ohtani, and there’s almost no reason for him to stay with the Halos. The 28th-ranked farm system is gutted and the roster is a rotting pile of cash.
Through the colored lens of recency bias, the Angels’ mistakes are magnified, but they also set back an organization that’s already playing from well behind the pack. They also have nearly $400 million still tied into Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon. The soft bigotry of low expectations applies to the Angels. It’s not often I quote George W., but when I do it’s about baseball. Putting all that said, there are only a few teams across the sports scene who can profess to have stepped in a flaming bag of their own poop.
It’s not the first time this year the Angels should have been sellers instead of buyers. The aforementioned owner Artie Moreno was slated to sell the Angels this year before realizing that his front-row seat to an abject disaster was too much of an adrenaline rush. From a comprehensive level, the Halos front office has touched every base to smite this franchise. At the deadline, the Halos saw themselves as Nick Fury gathering talent instead of the villain of the story paying henchmen to get knocked out 10 at a time. Fan interest is tepid, the front office struggles to develop talent, they’ve assembled one of the worst minor league systems in MLB and they’re not even close to contending. The Angels need to burn it all down and start over.