The Los Angeles Angels announced that they have acquired flame-throwing right-hander Guillermo Zuñiga from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for cash considerations. To make room for Zuñiga on the 40-man roster, the Angels designated Austin Warren for assignment.
Zuñiga has been on a long journey to the Majors that began with him getting signed by the Atlanta Braves as an international free agent when he was 17 years old in 2016. In 2017, he elected free agency and signed a minor league contract with the L.A. Dodgers. He spent 2018-22 in the Dodgers organization, rising from the Arizona Fall League all the way to Double-A.
He elected free agency at the end of the 2022 season and was surprisingly given a Major League contract by the Cardinals, but spent most of 2023 at the Triple-A level. He struggled mightily there, posting a 7.63 ERA and 1.696 WHIP while walking 5.9 batters per nine innings in 30.2 innings.
He pitched two Major League innings in 2023 — his MLB debut — where he allowed one run on two hits with four strikeouts. But while the production has not been that of an MLB-ready reliever, his tools are clearly a point of intrigue for an Angels team trying to revamp their relief crew.
Zuñiga averages 99.4 mph on his fastball and has had high strikeout rates throughout his minor league career. He could be a solid back of the bullpen relief option in a new-look team that features Carlos Estévez, Robert Stephenson, Matt Moore, Luis Garcia, Adam Cimber and Jose Cisnero. He is on the 40-man roster with the Angels.
Zuñiga takes the place of Warren on the 40-man roster, as he has been DFA’d by the Halos. Warren was a standout rookie season in 2021, posting a 1.77 ERA in 20.1 innings. But since then, he has been far less consistent. He had a 5.20 ERA over his next 17.2 innings in 2022 and 2023 before injuring his elbow and requiring Tommy John surgery. He likely would have began the 2024 season on the 60-day injured list.
The Angels have seven days to find a trade for Warren or pass him through waivers.
Angels trade Trey Cabbage for Carlos Espinosa
The Angels landed Carlos Espinosa in a deal for first baseman Trey Cabbage with the Houston Astros, a 22-year-old Cuban-born righty with a three-pitch mix of fastball, slider and changeup. His fastball sits in the mid 90s, according to FanGraphs. He hasn’t spent much time playing at the professional level, though.
Espinosa has 40.2 innings of work in the Florida Complex League and 43.2 innings of work in Single-A Fayetteville. In that Single-A playing time, he has compiled an ERA of 4.53 with a 1.42 WHIP, a 10.1 K-per-nine and a 4.5 walk-per-nine.
The Angels are consistently looking for pitching depth within their organization, so even if Espinosa never makes it to the big leagues, L.A. considers it a worthwhile risk to have as many arms as possible in the farm system.