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OC Register: Angels Q&A: Are the Angels’ waiver moves a bad look to free agents they might pursue?

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Less than a month after the Angels signaled their intention to “roll the dice,” by being buyers before the trade deadline, in the words of General Manager Perry Minasian, the results have been bad enough that they’ve now given up.

The Angels are 64-70. Making the playoffs is all but impossible, but even finishing with a winning record after last year’s 74-88 season would be some progress.

While fans are waiting to see whether Shohei Ohtani will have Tommy John surgery, there is much to ponder about what all of this means for 2024.

Q: How bad do these latest moves look to free agents the Angels will try to sign in the offseason? — @stevelomax4

A: I’m sure different players will view it in different ways.

On one hand, the players might feel disrespected by being essentially given away. They are forced to uproot their lives and go elsewhere with no say in the matter.

However, that’s not much of a distinction from when they are traded. And in this case, the players are going to have the opportunity to go to contenders and maybe win the World Series, instead of simply playing out the string with the Angels. And they still get all of their salaries.

By the way, the same question could have been asked if the Angels had traded Ohtani when they were three games out of a playoff spot. Potential free agents certainly might have wondered about the commitment to winning if they’d done that.

Q: Hey Jeff can you confirm the shedding of money was a grand plan in order to provide more financial resources to try and re-sign Ohtani? — @SoCalAvsFan

A: I wouldn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up, but if the Angels can get under the luxury tax threshold for 2023, it would have an impact on what they could spend in 2024 and going forward.

Teams pay a tax of 20% on their overage in the first year they are over the luxury tax threshold, and it goes up to 30% in the second year and then 50% in the third year.

If, hypothetically, the Angels want to be able to go over the threshold in 2024, it’s a lot cheaper to do it if they didn’t do it in 2023.

Q: Will the Angels finally let go of (Anthony) Rendon soon, Jeff? — @LAATweeter

Q: I’m just curious of the salary tax implications of releasing a player in the middle of their contract. Does it matter? Is the contract calculated like it’s there for the entirety of it? Basically is there any luxury tax benefit for a team if they decide to release a player? — @JAH1722

A: I’m combining these, for obvious reasons.

Certainly, Rendon’s seven-year, $245 million deal has not worked out for the Angels so far. He’s played 200 of a possible 518 games in the first four seasons of his deal.

Trading him would seem to be pretty impossible unless the Angels were willing to eat almost all of the contract.

I would be shocked if the Angels simply released him, though. When he’s hurt, he doesn’t clog the roster because he’s on the injured list. And they can’t get him off the payroll, no matter what they do. If they release him, his salary would still count toward the Angels’ luxury tax.

I expect the Angels to again build their team with other players who can play third, so they’re covered for when he’s hurt.

Q: Any indication the Angels are happy enough with how (Mike) Moustakas has played to bring him back next year? — @dumbmailguy

A: Speaking of players who can cover for Rendon …

I asked Moustakas if he’d like to come back and I asked Minasian if he’d like to bring Moustakas back, and both were noncommittal, saying it was something to address after the season.

That being said, a reunion does make some sense. Moustakas can play third and first, which are two spots the Angels need covered. He’s also developed into a clubhouse favorite, providing some leadership. The fact that Moustakas was not among the players placed on waivers is noteworthy.

The risk is that Moustakas is going to be 35, and he was hurt for most of the 2021 and 2022 seasons, so his salary would need to reflect that.

Q: Here’s a legit question, the Angels’ biggest issue over the last 8 years has been pitching development. Why has this crucial element been mostly ignored by the organization? Pitching and defense wins games! Look forward to your response.

A: I wouldn’t say the Angels have “ignored” it. In 2021, they drafted pitchers with every single one of their 20 picks. The problem is just that they haven’t been very good at it.

When I examined the Angels’ player development system last year, there was some sentiment from those who had been in the system that they lagged behind in terms of technology when Jerry Dipoto was the general manager. When Billy Eppler took over, they got caught up in that respect but may have pushed too far in focusing on tools and processes and not enough on performance.

Minasian has sought a balance of everything. It’s too early to know if it’s really working, but one measure is that the pitchers other teams want in trades are the ones drafted by Minasian, not Eppler.

Q: Jeff, any news on manager Phil Nevin and his return for next season? Any hints of bringing in a new manager and coaching staff? — @NetcoRecruiter

A: Nevin does not have a contract for next season. Even though Nevin seems to be well-liked in the clubhouse, this is a results-oriented business. If the Angels play well down the stretch, even if they ultimately come up short of the playoffs, it would certainly help his case to return. If they limp across the finish line, a change is likely.

As for the coaches, teams have coaching staff changes all the time, even good teams, so there certainly could be some shuffling after this season.

Q: I’d love to know a little about the Angels’ stolen base philosophy. Seems like even with more favorable rules, no one but (Shohei) Ohtani thinks it’s worth it. What gives? — @EN_parker

A: The Angels simply don’t have much speed. Their fastest players are Ohtani, Mike Trout, Jo Adell, Andrew Velazquez and Luis Rengifo. Even when Trout is healthy, he’s not going to run much because of the risk of injury and the risk of running into an out when he’s in the middle of the order.

Q: What is going on with Jo Adell? — @hawaiiwriter

A: Although the initial word was that Adell’s oblique strain was somewhere between the severity of the ones suffered by shortstop Zach Neto and relief pitcher Matt Moore, at this point it looks like it will end up being more severe than both of them. He still has not begun any type of baseball activity, and he’s nearly eight weeks removed from the injury. He still has time to make it back this season, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t.

Q: Do the Angels still view Sam Bachman as a starter? He has the tools to be a dominant reliever but they drafted him where they did for him to start. — @raymond_210

A: Yes, when the Angels drafted Bachman with their first pick in 2021, they did so envisioning him as a starter. He still has only started in the minor leagues. When they called him up this year to pitch in relief, it was more of a short-term solution.

The Angels would still love for Bachman to evolve as a starter, but I think they’re open to whatever works. He’s also had injury issues, so they need to find out which role works better for him from the perspective of his health.


Angels (LHP Patrick Sandoval, 7-10, 3.95 ERA) at A’s (TBD), Friday, 6:40 p.m., Bally Sports West, 830 AM

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