MLB holds off on new rules after Angels' late-season salary dump

Major League Baseball officials have decided to wait at least another year before considering the implementation of rules that would prevent teams from dumping players into the waiver market late in the season, as the Los Angeles Angels did in August, industry sources told ESPN on Monday.

The Angels had added aggressively in deals before the trade deadline, swapping for Lucas Giolito and others while trying to demonstrate to Shohei Ohtani that they were trying to win. But the Angels completely collapsed, losing their first seven games in August and 16 of 21 through Aug. 23, plummeting out of contention.

Then the Angels shifted again, placing a number of players on waivers -- most notably Giolito -- in an effort to shed salaries and stay under the luxury tax threshold. In the end, the Angels apparently managed to do so by about $30,000 -- which has not yet been finalized; the MLB Players Association still needs to sign off on MLB's accounting. If the Angels avoided the luxury tax, they will avoid various penalties.

While baseball executives with other teams understood the strategy -- and some agreed with the Angels' decision to offload as much salary as possible -- there was some queasiness within the industry about this becoming a regular late-season practice for failing teams, with a flood of established players suddenly being given away, sources told ESPN.

The issue was discussed at the GM meetings in November, sources told ESPN, and it was decided then that more data was needed -- at least another season of evidence, to determine whether the Angels' salary dump was precedent for more of the same by other teams, or if the Angels' waiver choices in 2023 were a one-off event.

If there is another wave of financially driven waiver dumps next season, it's possible that regulations to curb that kind of behavior will be discussed next winter.