Angels Place Luis Rengifo On 10-Day IL, Select Keston Hiura

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

Rengifo was removed from Wednesday’s game after appearing to injure himself on a swing. Per Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register on X, the club said he had some wrist soreness and would be going for imaging. The X-rays found no break, per Fletcher on X yesterday, but it seems the inflammation and soreness are enough that the club will put him on the shelf for at least a little while.

How he progresses in the coming weeks will be an interesting situation to monitor as he is one of the most straightforward trade candidates this summer. The Angels are 36-50 and one of the few clear sellers this year. Rengifo has just one year of club control beyond this one, making $4.4MM here in 2024 with another pass through arbitration upcoming. The Halos are considered to have a poor farm system, making it unlikely that they will return to contention by next year.

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

At least some of that is probably luck, as Rengifo had a .289 batting average on balls in play in the 2022-23 period but is up to .349 this year. But it’s still his third straight season of producing above-average offense. He also provides plenty of defensive versatility, having played all three outfield spots and the three infield positions to the left of first base. He’s not considered an especially strong defender anywhere, but the versatility is still attractive to clubs. He’s also added a base-stealing component to his game with 22 swipes this year, more than the 18 he had in his entire career coming into this season.

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

In the meantime, the Angels will have to cobble a lineup together without Rengifo. He has mostly been playing 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 healthy now and likely to play third and second base, respectively. Luis Guillorme is around as a bench infielder.

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

But hitting home runs has never been the problem for Hiura. He has always put the ball over the fence but has also been struck out in huge numbers at the same time. In over a thousand plate appearances in the majors, he has 50 long balls but a 36% strikeout rate. Even while going on that insane speed run with the Bees in the past few weeks, he’s been punched out 28.1% of the time.

For the Halos, there’s little harm in bringing him up to see if they can catch lightning in a bottle. They have been using Willie Calhoun as their primary designated hitter for the past two months. He has a passable line of .273/.337/.391 in 178 plate appearances this year but with just two homers, not the kind of pop that clubs usually hope to get from their DH. Hiura is in the DH spot today with Calhoun on the bench.

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

If things don’t go well with Hiura, he is out of options and will have to be removed from the 40-man to be nudged off the active roster. But if things click, he can theoretically be retained for three arbitration seasons beyond this one.

As for Wantz, he was just placed on the 15-day injured list a few days ago with right elbow inflammation. His status is still unclear but the fact that he has been quickly transferred to the 60-day IL is ominous. He’ll now be ineligible to be reinstated until early September.

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