Angels place Luis Rengifo on 10-day IL, select Keston Hiura

The Angels announced that the infielder Luis Rengifo has been placed on the 10-day injured list (retroactive to July 4) with inflammation in his right wrist. In related moves, the Halos selected the contract of infielder Keston Hiura from Triple-A, and moved to the right Andrew Wantz on the 60-day wounded list.

Rengifo was pulled from Wednesday’s game after he appeared to injure himself during a swing. According to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register on X, the club said he was experiencing some soreness in his wrist and was going in for an X-ray. X-rays didn’t reveal a fracture, according to Fletcher on X yesterday, but it appears the inflammation and pain are enough to keep him on the shelf for a while.

How he plays out over the next few weeks will be an interesting situation to watch, as he’s one of the most obvious trade candidates this summer. The Angels are 36-50 and are one of the few clear sellers this year. Rengifo has just one year of club control left after this year and is due to make $4.4 million in 2024 with another pass through arbitration coming up. The Halos are considered a poor farm system, making it unlikely they’ll be in contention again next year.

He’s been a solid contributor for the Halos the previous two seasons, but has seemingly taken a step forward this year. He’s slashed .264/.315/.436 over 2022 and 2023, with that production translating into a 108 wRC+. Here in 2024, he’s currently hitting .315/.358/.442 and has a 127 wRC+.

That’s probably partly luck, as Rengifo had a .289 batting average on balls in play in 2022-23, but is now .349. But it’s still his third straight season of producing above-average offense. He also offers a lot of defensive versatility, having played all three outfield positions and all three infield positions left of first base. He’s not considered a particularly strong defender anywhere, but the versatility still appeals to clubs. He’s also added a basestealing component to his game with 22 swipes this year, up from the 18 he had in his entire career prior to this season.

Those on-field contributions, as well as his salary and extra year of club control, make him very attractive when healthy. The trade deadline is July 30, so he has plenty of time if this is just a minor issue. But if he suffers a setback, the Angels could miss their window to capitalize on his trade value. Injured players can still be traded, but it’s rare that they actually are, as offers are usually withdrawn to reflect uncertain health status.

Meanwhile, the Angels will have to assemble a lineup without Rengifo, who has played mostly second and third base this year, with Anthony Rendon, Miguel Sano And Brandon Drury all spending time on the injured list. Rendon is still on the IL, but Sano and Drury are now healthy and will likely play third and second base, respectively. Luis Guillorme is active as a bench player.

Hiura, 27, signed a minor league deal with the Angels a few weeks ago after being cut by the Tigers. He reported to Triple-A Salt Lake and has been on an absurd run since then, slugging 12 home runs in 19 games for a .360/.429/.853 line.

But hitting home runs has never been a problem for Hiura. He’s always hit the ball over the fence, but he’s also been struck out a ton. In over a thousand plate appearances in the majors, he’s hit 50 long balls, but has a 36% strikeout rate. Even when he’s been on that insane speed run with the Bees in recent weeks, he’s been struck out 28.1% of the time.

There’s little harm in the Halos taking him along to see if they can capture lightning in a bottle. They have Willie Calhoun as their primary designated hitter for the past two months. He has a passing line of .273/.337/.391 in 178 plate appearances this year, but with just two homers, not the kind of pop that clubs typically hope to get from their DH. Hiura will be at the DH position today with Calhoun on the bench.

The Angels might also be tempted to put Hiura at second base at times, since that’s where he played when he first emerged as a prospect. But his glovework was considered poor and he’s spent more time at first base in recent years. But he still got some time at the keystone while in Salt Lake, so it might not be off the table. Nolan Schanuel is having a subpar year at No. 1, hitting .239/.309/.352, and has almost no minor league experience. The club booted him to the majors last year after just 22 games on the farm while trying to stay in the playoff race, and they passed him over entirely in Triple-A. If Hiura hits well, a minor league stint for Schanuel might not be out of the question either.

If Hiura doesn’t work out, he’ll be out of options and will have to be cut from the 40-man to be taken off the active roster. But if it works out, he could theoretically be kept for three more arbitration seasons after this one.

As for Wantz, he was placed on the 15-day injured list a few days ago with a sore in his right elbow. His status is still unclear, but the fact that he was quickly moved to the 60-day IL is ominous. He will now not be eligible for redeployment until early September.

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