After posting a 45-46 record in the first half of the season, the Angels decided to become “buyers” at the trade deadline and attempt to make a push for the playoffs. They made trades to acquire players such as Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, C.J. Cron, and Randal Grichuk. In the process, the team gave up valuable assets within their farm system, hoping that the new additions would be enough to bolster the lineup and pitching staff to bring together a contending unit. Despite the efforts made, things would take a turn for the worse. The team would only begin to struggle even more in the second half of the season, as they waved the white flag less than a month after the trade deadline. Giolito, Lopez, and Grichuck were all part of a shocking wave of players DFA’d by Los Angeles in an effort to conserve any salary cap room that they could. An 8-19 month of August and 25-40 post-All-Star Game record serves as the ultimate representation of the misfortune the Angels have seen this season, and they will now head home for 6 final games after losing 2 of 3 to the Twins in Minnesota.
The homestand will not matter much as far as standings go, but the team will nonetheless try to end the year on a more positive note. Heading into the offseason, the team will have to monitor a couple of key injuries. Superstar pitcher/hitter Shohei Ohtani was placed on the IL on September 16th and had surgery just 3 days later to repair a torn UCL in his right elbow. Ohtani is expected to be able to make his return in 2024 as a hitter, but might not be able to pitch again until 2025. Either way, he will be the biggest prize in this winter’s free agent class. The Angels will look to do everything they can to retain him and will certainly have to dig deep into their checkbook if they wish to do so. There will be many big-market teams such as the Dodgers and Yankees who will be in the mix and seeking to throw historic offers at Ohtani.
As for star outfielder Mike Trout, he was transferred to the 60-day injured list on Sunday morning with a left hamate fracture. Trout is 32 years old, and finished the season batting .263 with 18 home runs and 44 RBIs through just 82 games. He will also have some offseason drama surrounding him, with reports that the Angels would be open to seeking a trade for the star player if he were to want out. Trout has played just 3 postseason games in his career thus far, and will only want to contend more and more with each failed season that passes.
GM Perry Minasian and the rest of the front office will have some key decisions to make, as the team’s performance has clearly fallen short of expectations throughout the past few seasons. It will be interesting to see how Los Angeles operates given their salary cap situation and the need to resign key players such as Shohei Ohtani.
As for the current roster, things have gone just as fans would have expected given the roster. The team’s 6-16 record in September so far is a direct result of a lack of pitching success (7th worst team ERA in baseball) and a wide range of lineup adjustments/replacements. Only 3 players from the opening day lineup found themselves in the lineup on Sunday as the Angels fell 9-3 to the Twins. It goes to show what type of inconsistency the team has dealt with all year long as they anxiously wait to get to the finish line and enter the offseason.
Their 2 remaining series will be against the Rangers and Athletics. Los Angeles will have a nice chance in front of the home crowd to spoil their division rival, as Texas currently clings to a 2.5-game lead in the AL West. With Houston close behind them in second, they will be rooting for the Angels to take some games and make the division race just a little closer with the season approaching its final days. The final series against the Athletics will also provide a chance to finish the season on a positive note, as Oakland’s 48-107 record is the worst in the MLB. The series might also end up holding a little bit of history, as it could go down as the Athletics final set of games before a potential move to Las Vegas.
When the season finally reaches its end and the team misses out on a chance to play October baseball for the 9th straight season, big decisions will have to be made. Impending free agencies, potential impact trades, and much more will be up in the air as the front office looks to get to work and construct a new team for 2024 to end the playoff drought once and for all.
First pitch against the Rangers on Monday in the series opener is scheduled for 6:38 p.m. PT.