One of the Oakland Athletics' division rivals, the Los Angeles Angels, have made an interesting trade, sending catcher Max Stassi and infielder David Fletcher to Atlanta for post-hype first baseman Evan White and relief pitcher Tyler Thomas.
It's mostly a salary dump for the Angels, though they do have to take on White's contract, which amounts to at least $17 million total over the next three years. A contact-hitting first baseman, White was the Mariners first round draft pick in 2017.
GM Jerry Dipoto signed White to a six-year contract worth $24 million, plus team options, prior to 2020 and before White ever played a game in the majors. The deal did not pay off for the Mariners, as White played in just 84 games at the major league level between 2020-2021. He has spent the past two seasons at Triple-A working through injuries, and played in just two games in 2023.
His career batting line of .165/.235/.308 leaves much to be desired and it's unclear whether he'll ever amount to more than that. By moving Fletcher and Stassi, the Angels shave about $15 million off the books for 2024, though the $7 million they'll owe White next year lessens the payroll drop.
The Angels currently have 2023 first rounder Nolan Schanuel manning the cold corner and Brandon Drury penciled into the DH spot, so playing time will be hard to come by for White without further roster moves or injuries.
Are the Angels in a worse spot than the Athletics moving forward?
The loss of superstar Shohei Ohtani will leave a substantial hole in the Angels' lineup in 2024 and beyond. They're strapped with Anthony Rendon and his albatross contract for the foreseeable future and have one of the consensus worst prospect pipelines in the majors.
It's difficult to think that the Angels are in a worse position going forward than the A's are, but that might be the case. GM Perry Minasian has had a run of extremely bad luck with free agent signings and trade acquisitions that have left the Angels with a bloated payroll and nothing to show for it on the field.
They managed to just slide under the Competitive Balance Tax in 2023 thanks to some questionable roster moves at the waiver deadline. Their current estimated payroll tax number is just north of $165 million. That team won just 73 games in 2023, and that was with a generational superstar in his prime in Ohtani.
It's fair to assume that the Angels will be much worse off in 2024, given their salary dump approach to this offseason and their lack of meaningful player acquisitions. Whether the lowly Athletics can finish above them in the standings next year is up for debate, but it doesn't seem like a great time to be a fan of either franchise at the moment.