Los Angeles Angels Acquire Two More Players for Playoff Push

Posted on: July 31, 2023, 10:41h. 

Last updated on: July 31, 2023, 11:13h.

The Los Angeles Angels continued their buying spree prior to the trade deadline when they acquired outfielder Randal Grichuk and first baseman CJ Cron from the Colorado Rockies.

CJ Cron
First baseman CJ Cron, seen here rounding the bases after hitting a home run for the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field in Denver, will join the Los Angeles Angels in a trade. (Image: USA Today Sports)

The Angels are in a fierce fight for a spot in the playoffs, and are four games back in the tight American League wild-card race.

The Angels didn’t trade All-Star Shohei Ohtani to the highest bidder despite rumors that struggling teams like the New York Yankees, New York Mets, and San Diego Padres wanted to add the home run leader to improve their postseason chances.

Team owner Arturo Moreno stated that he had no intention of trading Ohtani if the Angels were in playoff contention.

Ohtani will be a free agent at the end of this season. He’s expected to sign the richest contract in baseball this off-season, likely worth more than $500 million. But there are no guarantees that the Angels will be able to keep the two-way star. If Ohtani walks in free agency, then the Angels will receive nothing in return.

The Angels were active at the trade deadline to show Ohtani that they’re serious about building a contender around him, and to entice him to sign again with the team.

Last week, the Angels acquired two pitchers from the Chicago White Sox. They added right-handed starting pitcher Lucas Giolito to strengthen their rotation and righty reliever Reynaldo Lopez to bolster their bullpen.

Cron and Grichuk Headed to the Halos

The Rockies (41-64) are the worst team in the National League this season, and they have the third-worst record in baseball. So it’s no surprise Colorado was a seller at the trade deadline.

The Angels sent two pitching prospects to the Rockies to complete the trade for Cron and Grichuk. Right-handed Jake Madden, 21, was a fourth-round pick by the Angels in the 2022 MLB Draft. Mason Albright, 20, is a left-handed prospect who the Angels drafted in 2021 directly out of high school. Both Albright and Madden played for the Rockies’ Single-A affiliate Fresno Grizzlies this season.

During the 2021 and 2022 seasons, Cron smacked 57 home runs and added 194 RBI for the Rockies. He appeared in only 56 games this season due to back spasms, but he hit 11 home runs and added 32 RBI. He was slashing .260/.304/.476 this season. Cron returns to the Angels in this trade after spending the first four seasons of his career as their first baseman.

Grichuk spent the first eight seasons of his career with the St. Louis Cardinals and Toronto Blue Jays before joining the Rockies for the past two seasons. Grichuk was a coveted high school prospect whom the Angels initially drafted with the #24 overall pick in the 2009 MLB Draft. In a little bit of obscure trivia, Grichuk was drafted one spot ahead of three-time MVP Mike Trout.

In 64 games this season, Grichuk posted a career-best .308 batting average. He was slashing at .308/.365/.496 with eight home runs and 27 RBI. He hit 19 home runs and drove in 73 runs last season in Colorado.

Long-Shot Angels on the Bubble

The Angels (55-51) occupy third place in the AL West and find themselves in a tough race for the AL wild card. The Tampa Bay Rays (64-44), Toronto Blue Jays (59-47), and Houston Astros (59-47) currently hold down the three AL wild-card spots.

The Angels are one of five bubble teams within six games of the AL wild card, including the Boston Red Sox (56-49), New York Yankees (55-50), Seattle Mariners (54-51), and Cleveland Guardians (53-53).

All five teams from the AL East are in playoff contention, and four of them are jockeying for the three wild-card spots. The Angels hope those teams, especially the slumping Yankees, Red Sox, and Blue Jays, cannibalize themselves in August and September. The Blue Jays were also active at the trade deadline when they added the flame-throwing Jordan Hicks to bolster their bullpen.

The Angels are a betting favorite to miss the playoffs at -700 odds, according to a prop bet by DraftKings. They are +550 odds to make a big push and secure a wild-card berth.

FanGraphs projects the Angels have only a 15.5% chance to qualify for the playoffs, with a 0.9% chance to win the World Series.

The Angels are a long shot at +3500 odds to clinch the AL pennant. They are also a long shot to win the 2023 World Series at +7500 odds.