How Much Value Did the Angels Lose By Going All-in?



It’s obvious now that the Angels’ unfortunate decision to go for it at the trade deadline backfired. In addition to pulling Shohei Ohtani off the trade market, they doubled down and quickly became buyers in an attempt to make the playoffs. In a dizzying week, they acquired Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, C.J. Cron, Randal Grichuk, and Dominic Leone, paying premiums (based on our modeling) on every transaction.

Then, one month later, they reversed course. Once clearly out of contention, they dumped the veterans on expiring contracts, including the ones they had just acquired, by putting them all on waivers. Giolito and Lopez were claimed by the Guardians; Hunter Renfroe was claimed by the Reds. Leone was claimed by the Mariners. At first glance, it looks ridiculous – they shot their prospect-capital wad to acquire these guys, only to give them away for free.

But how bad was the damage? How much value did they lose overall? Let’s dig into that a bit.

First, the decision not to trade Ohtani meant that they essentially ate his trade value, which at the deadline, we had at $45M. The fact that he then got injured is irrelevant; even if healthy, his production in the last two months was effectively meaningless, so the salient point here is the wasted opportunity cost – they could have netted $45M in prospect capital had they traded him, which would have beefed up their farm system significantly.

Second, once that decision was made, they went all-in. Instead of waiting out the market, they jumped it and overpaid for Giolito and Lopez:

Angels get

Value ($Ms)

White Sox get

















That overpay resulted in a net loss of $22.2M.

Next, they made a smaller trade with the Rockies, for Cron and Grishuk:

Angels get

Value ($Ms)

Rockies get



















This resulted in a net loss of $3M.

Finally, they snuck in one last deal with the Mets:

Angels get

Value ($Ms)

Mets get









A smaller loss, but still, a loss.

All told, the go-for-it decision cost them an estimated $27M in prospect capital. They not only missed a golden opportunity to beef up a bad farm, but they absolutely decimated what was left of it. This will leave them bereft of young impact talent for years to come.

To be fair, they’ve promoted a few young players to the major-league level already (and have been one of the most aggressive teams to do so, calling up guys like Logan O’Hoppe, Zach Neto, and Nolan Schanuel). But the pipeline is dry.

So how much did the veteran waiver-wire dump salvage those losses?

Assuming any on-field production they would have received from those veterans would have been worthless, since they’re out of contention, the only positive here is the salary savings, which amount to about $5.7M.

There’s another benefit as well: The Angels were slightly over the luxury tax limit, so by shedding these salaries (update: and by putting Max Stassi on the restricted list), they scooted back under it, which means they don’t have to pay any financial penalties on the overage. 

That amount would have been tiny, though. The real benefit was that the draft pick they’ll likely receive once Ohtani declines the qualifying offer they’ll issue is that it will come to them after the 2nd round instead of the 4th round. By our math, the delta between the value of those two picks is roughly $2M.

In other words, by dumping veterans, they netted roughly $7.7M in positive value. So how does that compare to what they lost in the first place? Let’s add it all up – and include the opportunity cost of keeping Ohtani:

Deadline Move

Net Value ($Ms)

Waiver Wire Move

Net Value ($Ms)

Not trading Ohtani


Veterans claimed


Giolito trade


Draft pick delta


Rockies trade


Leone trade






Grand total



So, all told, the Angels lost $64.3M in asset value, even after cutting some losses with waiver-wire dumps. The biggest chunk of that, of course, came with not trading Ohtani. Granted, by keeping him, the Angels no doubt benefited some from ticket sales (both home and away, as he’s a draw), and that amount is unknown. Still, even if it’s, say, a few million, it wouldn’t come close to compensating for the overall loss we’re showing here.

The decision to go all-in appears to have been enormously costly to the franchise.

About the Author

John Bitzer

John Bitzer

Founder and editor of
1 Comment
  1. Matt N

    Couldn’t you also calculate this as larger net loss for the Angels because of a net value of Ohtani was ~$45M at the time they decided to go all in, shouldn’t you be adding an estimated net value of their potential trade assets at the time? For example, Renfroe had some value prior to the deadline and prior to the waiver claim. If you’re factoring in an Ohtani sale would you also add in an estimated sale of veterans? I know that’s an assumption but if the thought was to get under the luxury tax in August wouldn’t they have likely done that with an Ohtani sale too?

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