Angels' Trade for Lucas Giolito Looks Really Bad Less Than a Year Later

Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez cost the Angels two promising prospects. Their departures yielded no players or cash still with the Angels' organization.
Apr 2, 2024; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Reynaldo Lopez (40) has thrived as a starting pitcher this season after appearing in only 13 games as a reliever with the Angels in 2023.
Apr 2, 2024; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Reynaldo Lopez (40) has thrived as a starting pitcher this season after appearing in only 13 games as a reliever with the Angels in 2023. / Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports
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This time a year ago, the Angels had a 24-year-old left-handed starting pitcher who is currently off to a strong start at Double-A, plus a 21-year-old catcher who is currenty starting at Double-A.

They traded the two prospects in August for a starting pitcher currently rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, and another pitcher who looks like one of the best starters in the National League for a playoff contender.

Today, none of those four players are in the Angels' system. What's worse, the flurry of transactions left the Angels with no players, cash, or even international bonus pool money still with the organization in exchange for their losses. Less than a year later, the Lucas Giolito-Reynaldo Lopez trade could not look much worse.

To recap: The Angels were still on the fringes of the American League wild card race on July 26, 2023 when they acquired Giolito and Lopez from the Chicago White Sox for minor league pitcher Ky Bush and minor league catcher Edgar Quero.

Lopez, a reliever then, pitched well in his 13 games with the Angels (13 IP, 19 strikeouts, 2.77 ERA). Giolito did not. He went 1-5 with a 6.89 ERA (32.2 IP, 25 ER) during his brief time in Anaheim. Meanwhile, the Angels fell so swiftly out of postseason contention, owner Arte Moreno flipped the switch from buyer to seller in the span of a month. Giolito and Lopez were two of the five players the Angels reportedly placed on waivers before the end of the month.

The Angels were 11.5 games out of the third and final wild card berth when Giolito and Lopez were claimed on Aug. 31. Ironically they were claimed by the Cleveland Guardians, who had the same record as the Angels (64-70) at the time. However, the Guardians could at least reasonably hope to catch the AL-Central leading Minnesota Twins; the two teams were separated by just five games entering the season's final month.

Flash forward to 2024. Giolito signed with the Boston Red Sox as a free agent, but a damaged UCL in his right elbow ended his season before it could start. Lopez signed with the Atlanta Braves in November and was promptly converted to a starter's role. The transition could not have gone better, as Lopez leads the Braves' staff in ERA (1.34) after his first seven starts.

The Angels could be forgiven for letting the two veterans go amid what has morphed into an organizational rebuild. Bush and Quero are the more regrettable losses, as the two are thriving in the White Sox's system.

Bush, 24, is 2-2 with a 2.20 ERA with the White Sox's Double-A affiliate. He has struck out 41 batters and walked only 15 in 32.2 innings for the Birmingham Barons. A promotion could come soon.

Quero, 21, cooled slightly after his hot start, but still has a solid .744 OPS from the catcher's position — more impressive considering Quero is three years younger than the average age for his level. He also has six home runs and 28 RBIs in his first 32 games.

The nonexistent return for the Angels' activity at last year's trade deadline isn't the only reason they are 16-28 and fifth place in the AL West to begin the 2024 season. It sure isn't helping the Angels' present state of affairs, and it's even more daunting a loss looking ahead at the team's future.

J.P. Hoornstra


J.P. Hoornstra writes and edits Major League Baseball content for Halos Today, and is the author of 'The 50 Greatest Dodger Games Of All Time.' He once recorded a keyboard solo on the same album as two of the original Doors.