The Angels announced a series of roster moves prior to today’s game with the Rays, including the news that Jared Walsh has been placed on the 10-day injured list due to thoracic outlet syndrome. Infielder Phil Gosselin was also designated for assignment. Filling the two roster spots are catcher Matt Thaiss (called up from Triple-A), and first baseman Mike Ford, whose contract was selected from Triple-A.
Thoracic outlet syndrome is a condition much more commonly seen in pitchers, making Walsh something of an outlier as a position player. While Walsh drew some attention as a two-way player early in his career and during his time in the Angels farm system, he has only 26 2/3 professional innings pitched, and none since 2019. Most pitchers who undergo surgery to correct TOS aren’t the same performance-wise after returning to the mound, but it remains to see if Walsh will indeed need surgery, or how such a procedure could impact his future production given that he isn’t pitching.
Even if Walsh opts for treatment without going under the knife, it would seem like the remainder of his 2022 season could be in jeopardy. With the Angels out of contention, they would seemingly not have any reason to rush Walsh back into action.
Walsh hit .280/.338/.531 over 693 PA with the Angels in 2020-21, earning a seventh-place finish in 2020’s Rookie of the Year balloting and a slot on the 2021 AL All-Star team. However, 2022 has been much more of a struggle, as the 29-year-old has contributed only 15 home runs and a .215/.269/.374 slash line. Despite some decent defense at first base, this poor offensive production has resulted in an overall sub-replacement level performance for Walsh, who has -0.5 fWAR and -0.6 bWAR.
Even in 2020-21, Walsh has below-average walk and strikeout rates, but those numbers have sunk further downward in 2022 — Walsh’s 30.4% strikeout rate puts him in only the sixth percentile of batters. He is also hitting with far less power, with an Isolated Power metric of only .158 (down from .354 in 2020 and .232 in 2021). This decline has robbed the Angels of a key bat in their lineup, as Los Angeles has gotten very little from any players besides Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Taylor Ward, and the emerging Luis Rengifo.
Gosselin had enough MLB service time that he can reject an outright assignment to Triple-A, assuming that he clears waivers and the Angels don’t release him. The Angels claimed Gosselin off waivers from the Braves in mid-July, and the veteran utilityman ended up playing 22 games with Anaheim, mostly as a third baseman. Unfortunately, Gosselin provided very little offense, with only a .269 OPS over 51 plate appearances.
Gosselin has only sporadically delivered at the plate over his 10 Major League seasons, with a career .254/.305/.349 slash line over 1199 PA. The 33-year-old has suited up for seven different big league teams, and this is his second stint with the Angels, after playing 104 games with the Halos in 2021.
Ford is in today’s starting lineup as the cleanup hitter, putting Ford on pace to see action for a fourth different Major League team this season. The first baseman has appeared in 22 games combined with the Giants, Mariners, and Braves, with San Francisco and Seattle ping-ponging him back and forth between their rosters a few times earlier in the season and Atlanta releasing Ford earlier this month. He signed a new minor league contract with Los Angeles in mid-August, and might now in line for some consistent playing time if Walsh does miss most or all of the remainder of the season.
In 2019, Ford burst onto the scene with 12 home runs and a .909 OPS over 163 PA as a rookie with the Yankees. Since that initial breakout, however, he has scuffled to a .138/.267/.253 slash line in 206 PA since the start of the 2020 season, and the Yankees dealt him to the Rays in June 2021. Ford also ended up heading to the Nationals on a waiver claim later in the 2021 season, making it quite a whirlwind of organizational change for the Princeton product in just 14 months’ time.