Angels deal for White Sox's Lucas Giolito as they move into buy mode

ByJeff Passan ESPN logo
Thursday, July 27, 2023

The Los Angeles Angels acquired right-hander Lucas Giolito and right-handed reliever Reynaldo Lopez from the Chicago White Sox for two top prospects late Wednesday, bolstering their roster on the same day they decided they would not trade star Shohei Ohtani before he hits free agency this winter.

The move for Giolito, arguably the best pitcher on the trade market, and Lopez, whose fastball regularly hits 100 mph, was the first significant trade in Major League Baseball before Tuesday's deadline. Multiple contenders had considered dealing for Giolito and Lopez, but the Angels swooped in with catcher Edgar Quero and left-hander Ky Bush, both at Double-A, to reinforce themselves for a playoff run.

The Angels have won six of seven games to move to 52-49 but remain four games out of the final American League wild-card spot, with two other teams,New YorkandBoston, also ahead of them.

In Giolito and Lopez, the Angels will add to a rotation and bullpen that both rank 20th in baseball in earned run average. Giolito (6-6), 29, who will be a free agent after the season, has a 3.79 ERA and has struck out 131 in 121 innings. The 29-year-old Lopez, who in 2016 came to the White Sox along with Giolito in a trade for Adam Eaton, has shown flashes of excellence this season and sports a 4.29 ERA with 52 strikeouts in 42 innings.

Originally taken in the first round byWashingtonin 2012, Giolito was long regarded as a front-line starter in the making. From 2019 to 2021, he received Cy Young votes and finished the season with ERAs in the mid-3s. While his ERA regressed last season, he has consistently posted top strikeout-to-walk ratios. He regained a half-mile per hour on his fastball this year and was the White Sox's most productive starter, although his 20 home runs allowed are the 11th most among 63 qualified starters.

Both the White Sox and Angels are expected to engage in more deals before the deadline. This one, Chicago general manager Rick Hahn said, came together over the past 48 hours in conversations with Angels GM Perry Minasian.

"He was very clear about the needs they were trying to address," Hahn said. "We were able to move fairly quickly over the course of today towards a decision."

The inclusion of Quero, 20, and Bush, 23, helped the Angels push past other teams the White Sox spoke with, including the Los Angeles Dodgers and Texas Rangers, sources said.

With rookie catcher Logan O'Hoppe looking like a fixture before an early-season injury, the Angels were willing to part with Quero, a switch-hitter whose bat is his carrying feature. In 70 games, he is hitting .246/.386/.332 with three home runs, 35 RBIs, 55 walks and 53 strikeouts.

Bush, a second-round pick in 2021, looked like the best pitcher in the Angels' system last year, posting a 3.67 ERA in 21 starts. In six Double-A appearances this season, he has a 5.88 ERA and 33 strikeouts over 26 innings.

With right-hander Lance Lynn, right-handed reliever Keynan Middleton and a cadre of other players available, the White Sox are looking to bolster an on-the-rise farm system led by shortstop Colson Montgomery, a top-10 prospect, and Noah Schultz, one of the best left-handed pitchers in the minor leagues. Quero, who signed with the Angels in 2021, is the latest in a long line of Cuban-born prospects to join the Chicago organization and is a consensus top-100 talent -- the sort teams rarely get for rental players like Giolito and Lopez. The White Sox could further fortify their system if they choose to deal right-handerDylan Cease or shortstop Tim Anderson, though they've said they hope to contend in the wide-open AL Central next season.

The Angels, meanwhile, are girding for a playoff run. While Ohtani is a near-lock for his second AL MVP award in three seasons, Los Angeles had struggled to assemble a playoff-worthy roster around him.

Owner Arte Moreno's desire to keep Ohtani, who chose to sign with the Angels when he came to MLB from Japan six years ago, fueled the deal. The Angels are hopeful that in addition to Giolito and Lopez, the return of star Mike Trout, O'Hoppe and superutilityman Brandon Drury from the injured list will help lead to the team's first postseason appearance since being swept in the division series byKansas Cityin 2014.

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