Angels get White Sox P Lucas Giolito after reportedly deciding to keep Shohei Ohtani

If you aren’t going to trade Shohei Ohtani, you might as well start buying at the trade deadline.

The Los Angeles Angels traded for Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Lucas Giolito and reliever Reynaldo López, the team announced Wednesday. Going back to the White Sox will be prospects Edgar Quero, a catcher, and Ky Bush, a pitcher.

The Angels were reported earlier Wednesday to be not just keeping Ohtani but also pursuing both a starting pitcher and a reliever at the trade deadline. In one move, they got both.

As of Wednesday, the 52-49 Angels sit four games back from the Toronto Blue Jays for the third and final wild-card spot in the American League. They also have the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees ahead of them, so they will likely need to reach another level if they want to make the playoffs.

Fortunately, they are expected to get Mike Trout back sometime next month.

What are the Angels getting in Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo López?

Giolito was one of the top pitchers expected to be available this month, with pitching coming at a premium due to a bulk of contenders looking to fill out their rotations. In 121 innings across 21 starts, he holds a 3.79 ERA, a 1.223 WHIP and 131 strikeouts.

Since he debuted with the Washington Nationals, Giolito has been one of MLB’s most up-and-down pitchers, receiving Cy Young votes in three seasons and posting ERAs well north of 4.50 in three others. Even with that background, he represents a massive upgrade on the non-Ohtani portion of the Angels’ rotation.

The trade will be something of a homecoming for Giolito, who grew up in Southern California and played high school ball at Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles.

López joined the White Sox in the same trade that sent Giolito to Chicago, and now he’ll head to Anaheim with Giolito as well. He holds a 4.29 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 42 innings across 43 appearances this season and is one of MLB’s hardest-throwing pitchers, with a four-seam fastball averaging 98.3 mph, per Baseball Savant.

Quero and Bush are ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 2 and 3 prospects in the Angels’ farm system, respectively, behind only catcher Logan O’Hoppe, who reached the majors last season. Quero is also ranked as the No. 65 overall prospect. In 70 games at Double-A this season, he’s hitting .246/.386/.332, while Bush holds a 5.88 ERA in 26 innings at the same level.

What does this mean for the Angels?

If the report Wednesday that the Angels would not be trading Shohei Ohtani didn’t convince fans and rival front offices that the Angels aren’t trading Shohei Ohtani, one of the first major moves of the 2023 trade deadline should. The Los Angeles Angels — owners of a third-place, 52-49 record, who have not made the postseason since 2014 and would not this year if the season ended today — acquired starting pitcher Lucas Giolito and reliever Reynaldo López from the Chicago White Sox in a definitive declaration of Going For It.

As the employers of Ohtani for the next three months, the Angels were destined to be the most interesting team at the deadline — buy or sell. Their ambivalence thus far reportedly slowed down the entire market as other teams waited to see whether they would act aggressively one last time to build a contender around the two-way star or part with him now for the sake of what surely would’ve been a historic haul for a rental. The addition of Giolito, who will be a free agent at the end of the season, is an emphatic signal of the former. Outside Ohtani himself, pitching has been a problem for the Angels. Essentially every team in the buyers column could benefit from another starting pitcher, but the Angels’ rotation is bottom-10 in ERA, WHIP, runs allowed, FIP, (etc.). Giolito’s 3.79 ERA will immediately be second-best among the Halos’ starting staff — behind only Ohtani — and his 121 innings pitched will be the most.

While the Texas Rangers and reigning Houston Astros duke it out for the American League West, the Angels will have to make their way into October through the crowded AL wild-card field. Right now, they’re four games back of the third wild-card berth, one of seven teams either currently in wild-card position or within five games. — Hannah Keyser

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