Nobody told the Los Angeles Angels that the trade deadline was July 31. Hours after grabbing outfielder Justin Upton in a waiver deal, the team added second baseman Brandon Phillips from the Atlanta Braves for minor-league catcher Tony Sanchez.
The 36-year-old Phillips is hitting .291/.329/.423, with 11 home runs, over 499 plate appearances this season. While Phillips hasn’t made the All-Star team since 2013, he’s a major upgrade over the Angels’ current options at second. The team has combined for an awful .202/.273/.316 slash line at the position.
The move had reportedly been in the works for hours, as Phillips was scratched from the Braves lineup. At that point, rumors swirled that Phillips could be dealt to Los Angeles. In order for that to happen, he needed to sign off on the deal. Phillips hasn’t appeared in the playoffs since 2013, so that opportunity may have been the reason he was willing to accept the trade.
At 69-65, the Angels find themselves just 1.5 games out of the second wild card spot in the American League.
With seven teams vying for that final spot, the Angels decided to try and distance themselves from the pack Thursday. The team made perhaps the biggest waiver deal of the month, grabbing Upton from the Detroit Tigers. It’s also rumored that the team will activate pitcher Garrett Richards from the disabled list in the next few days.
The Angels are still in the middle of a tight race, but Thursday’s moves may have vaulted them as the favorite for that final coveted playoff spot.
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