San Francisco Giants

Ranking former Angels the Giants could claim on waivers Thursday

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The Los Angeles Angels shocked the MLB world with a salary-dump fire sale Tuesday, leaving a possible opportunity for the playoff-hungry Giants to take advantage.

In total, the Angels placed six players on waivers: starter Lucas Giolito, relievers Reynaldo López, Matt Moore and Dominic Leone, as well as outfielders Hunter Renfroe and Randal Grichuk, ESPN's Jeff Passan reported, citing sources. Both Moore and Leone are former Giants, and all six are set to be free agents this offseason.

Teams can place claims on the six former Angels before the expiration of the waiver period Thursday, and the team with the worst record at the deadline will be awarded the player. As it stood Tuesday, the only teams with a worse record than the Giants currently in the playoff hunt were the Miami Marlins and Cincinnati Reds.

It's important to note these players will be eligible to play in the postseason with whichever team acquires them, though their new landing spot will be responsible for paying their remaining salaries.

So, should the Giants get in on the competition? While all six players realistically would help the team out, we've ranked the group in the order San Francisco should consider each player, starting with the most obvious:

No. 1: Lucas Giolito

The Giants' starting rotation received a boost with top prospect Kyle Harrison's recent MLB debut, but even with that and Alex Cobb's near-no-hitter on Tuesday night, it still could use some help.

Giolito put together a solid first half with the Chicago White Sox, posting a 3.79 ERA across 21 starts with 131 strikeouts in 121 innings pitched. It was enough to make him the top starting pitcher available at the trade deadline in August, when the Angels acquired him at a high cost.

He hasn't been as effective since his move to Los Angeles, pitching to a 6.89 ERA in six starts (32 2/3 innings) with the Angels while striking out 34 and walking 15. Still, his 27 starts total this season would tie Logan Webb for the Giants' lead, and he would fall second on the team in innings pitched ahead of Cobb and after Webb.

Picking Giolito up for free (then paying his remaining $1.7 million salary) could ease some of the strain currently on the Giants' bullpen, which has had to step up this season amid San Francisco's lack of starting depth. And if Giolito can get back to his first-half numbers, he definitely would be a difference-maker down the stretch.

No. 2: Reynaldo López

López, who the Angels also acquired from the White Sox at the deadline, has been spectacular on the mound in Los Angeles, with a 2.31 ERA, 19 strikeouts and six walks in 11 2/3 innings. He has just $600,000 in remaining salary and certainly could provide an upgrade to the Giants' bullpen, with rosters expanding from 26 to 28 players on Friday.

San Francisco can use all the arms it can get if the team wants to make a deep playoff run, and López's strikeout-heavy stat line could add to the firepower Camilo Doval, Taylor Rogers and Ryan Walker already provide in the K department.

The Giants' bullpen ERA of 3.81 is the 11th-best in baseball, but there's always room for improvement. So, San Francisco should consider López and ...

No. 3: Matt Moore

Moore gets points for being a lefty, which the Giants could use more of in the 'pen. The former MLB All-Star also has pitched even better than López on the season, with a 2.30 ERA in 43 innings (40 appearances), 47 strikeouts and 12 walks. Plus, he's already familiar with Oracle Park.

Moore is, however, a bit more expensive than López, with $1.25 million remaining on his contract. And Giants fans probably remember the rocky ending to his San Francisco tenure in 2017, when he finished with a 5.52 ERA and 6-15 record as a starter.

But since his transition to the bullpen in 2022, Moore seems to be a new man -- one with which the Giants might be willing to rejoin forces.

No. 4: Randal Grichuk

It's close, but Grichuk gets the edge over Renfroe here simply for the outfielder's ability to mash left-handed pitching, and he's a bit cheaper ($1.7 million remaining). The right-handed hitter is slashing .330/.394/.596 against lefties this season, and with Mike Yastrzemski and Mitch Haniger both officially back in the outfield, an additional power bat who isn't left-handed could provide some punch.

But with Giants rookie Wade Meckler finding his groove in the big leagues, adding more outfielders doesn't make as much sense for San Francisco as additional pitching would.

No. 5: Hunter Renfroe

Renfroe, at age 31, has been known across his career to hit lefties well. But this season he's hitting .250 against them and just .234 against righties. Still, Renfroe's 19 home runs on the year would tie him with Giants slugger Wilmer Flores for the team lead -- and more power never is a bad thing.

The outfielder is the most expensive player placed on waivers by the Angels, though, with about $2 million remaining on his contract. Again, with a slew of talented outfielders, this move might not make as much sense as other potential options.

No. 6: Dominic Leone

Last but not least is Leone, who the Giants could pick up for just the $100,000 left of his league-minimum salary. But should they?

The right-hander has posted a 5.25 ERA while allowing a .277 opponent average since joining the Angels at the deadline. Leone was stellar with the Giants during their historic 107-win season in 2021, posting a career-low 1.51 ERA and sealing the final out of San Francisco's NL West-clinching final game.

But he struggled in the Orange and Black last season to the tune of a 4.01 ERA and was released before the end of the year. Unlike Moore, Leone hasn't quite bounced back from the poor performance the Giants witnessed firsthand. So while a reunion might be affordable and bullpen help always is a plus, San Francisco might pass on this one.

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