The Angels announced a series of roster moves today, selecting infielders David Fletcher and Jared Walsh. To open active roster spots for those two, the club optioned outfielder Jordyn Adams and infielder Kyren Paris. To open spots on the 40-man roster, they transferred infielder/outfielder Luis Rengifo to the 60-day injured list and designated right-hander Gerardo Reyes for assignment.
Both Walsh and Fletcher looked like potential building blocks for the club not too long ago, but both of fallen off considerably in recent years. Walsh hit 38 home runs in 176 games over 2020 and 2021, slashing .280/.338/.531 for a wRC+ of 130. Unfortunately, significant health issues have prevented a significant obstacle to him since then. He underwent thoracic outlet syndrome surgery last year and has been dealing with headaches and insomnia this year, hitting just .202/.265/.353 over the past two seasons. He was outrighted in August and has a batting line of .217/.360/.375 in Triple-A this year.
Despite those struggles, he’ll get a chance to play out the string over the final weeks of the season with the Halos out of contention. He’s making a salary of $2.65MM this year and would be eligible for arbitration again this winter, though the Angels may not tender him a contract unless they have reason to expect he can get back to the form he showed in 2020-2021.
Fletcher hit .319/.376/.425 in the shortened 2020 season, wRC+ of 121, which was enough for the Angels to give him a contract extension going into the following year. In April of 2021, he and the club agreed to a five-year deal with a $26MM guarantee, though his production fell off immediately. He’s hit just .258/.292/.325 since the start of 2021 for a wRC+ of 69.
Twice this year, the club has passed Fletcher through waivers and outrighted him to Triple-A Salt Lake. Since he has over three years of major league service time, he could have rejected either of those assignments and elected free agency. However, since he’s still shy of five years of service, doing so would mean forfeiting what’s left of his contract, which runs through 2025. Naturally, he decided to accept in both instances.
He will still be shy of that five-year mark at season’s end, meaning the Halos could outright him again this winter and keep him around as depth without him taking up a roster spot. In the minors this year, he has a batting line of .330/.382/.428 that looks good at first glance but is par in the Pacific Coast League, translating to a wRC+ of 100. He’s generally considered a strong defender, so he could be valuable even with average offense at the big league level, though he’s been well beneath that in recent years.
Reyes signed a minor league deal with the club in the offseason and had his contract selected in June. He has an earned run average of 7.45 in his eight major league appearances and 6.25 in his 33 Triple-A appearances. He’ll be out of options next year, giving him less roster flexibility going forward.
As for Rengifo, it was reported last week that he won’t be able to return this year due to a bicep tendon rupture, making today’s transfer an inevitable formality.
It’s possible there are luxury tax implications to these moves, as it was reported earlier this month that the club remained narrowly above the lowest threshold of the competitive balance tax. Since then, they have tried to further cut their CBT number by putting catcher Max Stassi on the restricted list and putting outfielder Randal Grichuk on waivers a second time. Fletcher and Walsh each already had their salaries for this year locked in, so bringing them back up doesn’t add any payroll. But Adams and Paris will no longer be receiving major league pay after being optioned, which will trim a small amount of spending from the club’s ledger.
Getting under the CBT line could have implications for the club since the compensatory draft pick they would receive in the event Shohei Ohtani signs elsewhere after rejecting a qualifying offer would be significantly better. There are also compounding penalties for paying the tax in consecutive years, meaning that ducking under now would lessen their penalties if they were to go over again next year.
Whether the club pays the tax or not won’t be officially known until later in the year. Roster Resource estimates the Angels’ tax number at $229MM whereas Cot’s Baseball Contracts pegs it at $237MM. The lowest threshold of the CBT is $233MM this year.