The Angels have outrighted first baseman Jared Walsh, outfielder Brett Phillips, catcher Chad Wallach, right-handers Jaime Barria and Carson Fulmer, and left-hander Jhonathan Diaz, per MLB.com’s Transactions page. It had not previously been announced that the group were designated for assignment, but each player evidently cleared waivers. Walsh, Phillips, Wallach, Barria, and Fulmer will each now have the opportunity to elect free agency and hit the open market this offseason.
Walsh, 30, is perhaps the most noteworthy of the group. A 39th-round pick by the Angels in the 2015 draft, Walsh made it to the majors in 2019 and broke out in a big way during the shortened 2020 season, slashing an incredible .293/.324/.646 with nine home runs in just 108 trips to the plate. He followed up that breakout campaign with a strong 2021 as the club’s regular first baseman. In 144 games that year, Walsh hit .277/.340/.509 with 29 homers in his first full season of big league action en route to his first career All Star appearance. Unfortunately, things went down hill for Walsh from there. The slugger has struggled with neurological issues in recent years and struggled to be an effective big leaguer as a result, slashing just .197/.258/.355 in 157 games across the past two seasons. Deep as Walsh’s struggles have been in recent years, if he can prove himself to be healthy it’s certainly feasible that a club with a need at first base could give him a look thanks to his significant success in the relatively recent past.
Phillips, 29, made his big league debut with the Brewers during the 2017 season, slashing a solid .276/.351/.448 in 98 trips to the plate for the club. That said, Phillips’s true calling card is his outfield defense, which has allowed him to appear in the majors for each of the past seven seasons of his career despite only posting a better-than-average slash line in 2021 besides his debut season. Though he’s slashed a paltry .187/.272/.347 for his career including an abysmal .152/.230/.269 line the past two seasons, Phillips has managed to bounce between the Brewers, Royals, Rays, Orioles, and Angels throughout his career and could enter free agency as a solid, glove-first depth piece for interested clubs, though it’s possible he’ll have to settle for a minor league deal.
Wallach, 31, made is MLB debut in 2017 and since then has bounced around the major and minor leagues as a depth option behind the plate, with previous major league stints in Cincinnati and Miami as well as Anaheim. 2023 was the journeyman’s first extended big league opportunity thanks to injuries to the club’s typical catching corps of Logan O’Hoppe and Max Stassi, and Wallach performed passably in the role with solid framing numbers and 70 wRC+ that placed him 49th among 69 catchers with at least 100 big league plate appearances this season. Wallach figures to once again receive interest as a potential depth piece for clubs in need of additional catching options this offseason.
Barria, 27, made his MLB debut in 2018 and has spent his entire career with the Angels to this point. His rookie season was an impressive one, as he posted a 3.41 ERA that was 23% better than league average by ERA+ in 26 starts, though his 4.58 FIP left something to be desired. Barria struggled in a swing role in 2019 before bouncing back with a 3.62 ERA and matching 3.65 FIP in 32 1/3 innings of work during the shortened 2020 season. That set off what has become a trend of Barria alternating between struggles and success every other season; while he posted excellent numbers in 2022 with a 2.61 ERA as a multi-inning reliever, he struggled in 2021 and especially the 2023 campaign, during which he posted a 5.68 ERA and 6.07 FIP across 82 1/3 innings of work. Still, given Barria’s relative youth and previous success, it seems like a reasonable bet that he’ll find interest in his services this offseason.
Fulmer, who was selected eighth overall by the White Sox in the 2015 draft, struggled to a 6.41 ERA and 5.93 FIP across 130 2/3 innings for the first six seasons of his big league career while bouncing between the White Sox, Tigers, Orioles, and Reds organizations. After a solid season at the Triple-A level for Fulmer with the Dodgers in 2022, he signed on in Anaheim and return to the big leagues late in the year. He pitched fairly well in ten innings of work, striking out six while posting a 2.70 ERA across three appearances. The 29-year-old figures to once again receive interest from clubs this offseason, though it seems likely he’ll once again be limited to minor league offers.
Diaz, meanwhile, will remain in the Angels organization as a player with less than three years service time who’s just received the first outright assignment of his career. The 27-year-old lefty made his big league debut in Anaheim back in 2021, and has posted a 4.84 ERA with a 4.83 FIP across 35 1/3 innings of work in the big leagues split across the last three seasons. Diaz sports identical 14.4% strikeout and walk rates for his big league career thanks to a brutal 2023 campaign that saw him walk seven batters in seven innings while striking out just four and posting a 10.29 ERA. He’ll remain a decent left-handed depth option for the Angels going forward.