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Los Angeles Angels waive six players, prioritize luxury tax savings over competing on the field

Starter Lucas Giolito, outfielders Randall Grichuk and Hunter Renfroe, and relievers Reynaldo Lopez, Dominic Leone, and Matt Moore were placed on waivers Tuesday.

LOS ANGELES — One month after pushing their chips in and trading prospects to acquire big league talent at the trade deadline, in the hopes of getting Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout to the MLB playoffs, the Los Angeles Angels have completely reversed course in one of the most blatantly non-competitive moves in league history.

The Halos placed six players on waivers, including four players they had just acquired at last month's trade deadline: starter Lucas Giolito, outfielder Randall Grichuk, and relievers Reynaldo Lopez and Dominic Leone, as well as reliever Matt Moore and outfielder Hunter Renfroe.

These players are now eligible to be claimed by the rest of the teams in the MLB, and whoever wins the claim will only have to pay the player's remaining salary - giving the Angels no actual compensation other than salary relief, a move Locked on Angels hosts Jon and Mike Frisch bemoaned on a recent episode.

"Here's why I think it's ridiculous," Mike Frisch said. "You've traded away a lot of really good players, and now you're going to save seven million dollars. I just think that is utterly ridiculous."

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There is, however, another element to this move that comes into play for Los Angeles. Currently the Angels are narrowly above the MLB's luxury tax threshold, and if a few of these players get claimed (which they will) it will bring LA below that mark - saving owner Arte Moreno even more money.

It also has an impact on draft compensation. Should the team ultimately lose Ohtani in free agency - which looks like a foregone conclusion at this point - the comp pick coming back to Los Angeles will be added to the end of the second round, rather than the fourth round.

Is a few million dollars and a slightly better draft pick worth cutting good major league players, admitting you gave away talented prospects for virtually nothing, and telling the entire league in capital letters that you are no longer trying to win? 

It's not like this is the first instance of a team prioritizing profit over winning, not even close. But the audacity to do it so publicly, while callously casting aside players who now have to find new homes this late in the season, is a dangerous step toward an even less competitive balance in Major League Baseball - and could result in more complications from the MLB Player's Association in the near future.

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