Angels’ top trade prospect is hurt by loss

Los Angeles Angels outfielder Taylor Ward left Tuesday night’s loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks early due to lower back tightness.

Ward said he tweaked his back during the game and had had no previous problems before Tuesday night. Asked if he could play on Wednesday, he told reporters: “I hope so.”

Ward has been one of the lone bright spots for the Halos this season.

The 30-year-old is slashing .253/.331/.452 with 12 home runs, 36 runs batted in and an OPS of .783. He has been an above-average hitter with an OPS+ of 120 and remains under team control for several more years. He won’t hit free agency until 2027.

All of these things make Ward one of the Angels’ most attractive commodities as the deadline approaches. This year will likely be a seller’s market, and there are several outfielder-needy contenders such as the Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies.

Ward has had four consecutive above-average seasons since 2021, including a career-best season in 2022, when he slashed .281/.360/.473 with 23 home runs, 65 RBIs and an OPS of .833.

Hopefully Ward’s back problem isn’t too serious and he can get back on the field soon. The Angels should provide an update a few hours before Wednesday’s first pitch at 6:40 PM PT.