How Long Will the 2023 Season Scar the Los Angeles Angels?

After a flurry of 2023 trade deadline deals that did nothing but cost the Los Angeles prospects, is there hope for the future?

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 9: Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels reacts on the mound after hitting Wilmer Flores of the San Francisco Giants with a pitch in the sixth inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 9, 2023 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

As Ron Washington prepares for his first season as the manager of the Los Angeles Angels, fans of the Halos can only hope that a change in the dugout will help salve the wounds of what was a head-shaking 2023 campaign. One that could haunt the folks in Anaheim far worse than anything the Haunted Mansion just down the street could ever produce.

Certainly any baseball fan will remember the Angels being unable to produce a winner in Shohei Ohtani’s final season with the franchise, finishing the year with a 73-89 mark and slamming the door shut on any postseason appearances with both Ohtani and Mike Trout on the roster.

However, while being unable to keep a generational talent like Ohtani on the roster was a deep cut, it is looking back on the mismanagement of the 2023 MLB trade deadline that could even have longer-lasting effects on the franchise.

The 2023 MLB trade deadline deals

With the Angels keeping themselves in contention for a Wild Card spot (Los Angeles was just 3.0 games out of a postseason spot when the July 31 trade deadline arrived), general manager Perry Minasian made the decision to buy at the deadline.

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The hope was that they could boost the roster by dealing prospects for veteran players in an effort to build a winner around Ohtani (with Trout pushing to return from a hamate bone injury suffered on July 3).

It was a bold decision, resulting in six moves. The first two trades for Eduardo Escobar and Mike Moustakas came when the Angels were trying to keep their heads above water in June. Then in a trading frenzy, the Angels made four more deals ahead of the deadline.

In doing so, the Angels sent away potential pieces of their future from the minor leagues, gutting an already thin farm system. Here are all the midseason trades they made:

Acquired 3B Eduardo Escobar and cash from New York Mets for RHP Coleman Crow and RHP Landon Marceaux.

Acquired 3B Mike Moustakas from Colorado Rockies for RHP Connor Van Scoyoc.

Acquired 1B C.J. Cron, RF Randal Grichuk and cash from Rockies for LHP Mason Albright and RHP Jake Madden.

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Acquired RHP Lucas Giolito and RHP Reynaldo López from Chicago White Sox in exchange for C Edgar Quero and LHP Ky Bush.

Acquired RHP Dominic Leone and cash from Mets for INF Jeremiah Jackson

Traded LHP Tucker Davidson to Kansas City Royals for cash

The deals that brought players in, however, did nothing to boost the Angels’ postseason chances.

In fact, Los Angeles took a giant step back, losing seven in a row to open August on their way to an 8-19 mark. The Angels matched that record in September, securing one of the worst post-All-Star records of any MLB team (28-43), with only Oakland, Colorado and the Chicago White Sox winning fewer games.

What went wrong?

While Los Angeles thought it was adding firepower and veteran leadership to the team for a postseason run, the new faces stumbled mightily.

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Moustakas slashed .236/.256/.371 with eight homers and 31 RBI in 250 plate appearances.

Grichuk slashed .216/.264/.412 with eight homers and 17 RBI in 208 plate appearances.

Cron got in just 54 plate appearances, slashing .200/.259/.260, while going on the injured list twice with lower back inflammation.

Escobar slashed .219/.259/.303 with a pair of homers and 15 RBI in 178 plate appearances.

Giolito went 1-5 in six starts (32.2 innings) with a 6.89 ERA/6.81 FIP/1.469 WHIP.

Leone posted a 5.54 ERA/5.64 FIP/1.846 WHIP in 13.0 innings over 11 games.

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Lopez, arguably the lone bright spot of the newcomers, went 0-2 with a 2.77 ERA/3.41 FIP/1.538 WHIP in 13.0 innings.

The downfall was so bad and so fast for the Angels that four of the new additions were placed on waivers at the end of August, with Giolito and Lopez both selected on August 31 by the Cleveland Guardians and Leone picked up by the Seattle Mariners. Grichuk was also placed on waivers, but didn’t gather any interest and returned to the Angels to finish the season.

None of the veteran players who were acquired are expected to be back with the Angels in 2024.

What Los Angeles gave up

The price for failure was high for the Angels, with several of the prospects given up landing high on the rankings ladder with the new organizations in the most recent rankings.

The trade with the White Sox netted a pair of top 10 prospects for Chicago, with Quero ranked third and Bush ranked ninth.

Albright is currently the 23rd-ranked prospect for the Rockies, while Madden is one spot behind him. Van Scoyoc, meanwhile, advanced to Double-A Hartford.

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Crow, part of the Escobar deal, was later traded by the Mets to Milwaukee for right-hander Adrian Houser and center fielder Tyrone Taylor. Crow is now the 25th-ranked prospect for the Brewers.

Still with the Mets, Marceaux made one start in Double-A before finishing the year on the injured list, with his last outing coming on August 4 in Low-A.

While the old saying of “prospects are cool, parades are cooler” is certainly popular, it can also provide a sting when you lose the prospects without any kind of celebration.

The deals certainly thinned an already low-ranked farm system, with the Angels ranked 28th out of MLB’s 30 teams in last year’s post-deadline standings. With five of the departed players ranking among the top 25 of various franchise standings, it’s easy to see how there might be more hope for an internal boost in Anaheim had they just stood pat at the deadline.

In a game where pitching is such a priority at all levels, the Angels gave away a plethora of young arms, as Angels beat writer Sam Blum noted, to build a 2023 roster that did nothing.

Furthermore, if the Angels went the other direction and sold at the deadline, there is no telling how much better positioned they would be right now. Even as a rental, Ohtani could have netted the Angels some serious prospect capital had he been dealt, and other pieces on the roster could have been moved as well.

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So while the Angels may not be in contention in 2024 in what is expected to be a tough American League West division, it could be argued that the midseason deals of 2023 could even push a window back further.

If the Angels want to remain competitive in the coming years with Mike Trout, they are going to be reliant on free agency to supplement their roster. Considering their track record when it comes to bad free-agent decisions, there is not much hope right now with the Angels.