Los Angeles Angels add veteran infielder Cliff Pennington to bolster defense

By Grant Avise

Clifton Randolph Pennington- say it with a British accent and the name sounds quite regal. However, it is not baseball royalty the Angels signed to a two year, 3.75 million dollar deal this offseason. Cliff Pennington is just a journeymen infielder who is making his next stop in Anaheim. He plays 2nd and 3rd base but has most of his experience at shortstop.

Barring injury though, he won’t be seeing too much time at short though, since the Angels traded for arguably the best defensive shortstop in baseball this offseason in Anderlton Simmons. He may compete with Johnny Giavotella for the second base job but most likely will be the utility infielder for the Halo’s.

2016 will mark Pennington’s eighth major league season. He was a first round draft choice by the Oakland Athletics in 2005 out of Texas A&M. He debuted with the A’s in 2008 but didn’t exceed rookie limits until 2009. Pennington spent his first five season in Oakland, before signing with the Arizona Diamondbacks for 3 years. Last season, in his final year of the that contract, Arizona shipped him off to Toronto for a minor leaguer and cash.

Being that Pennington is from Texas and played most of his entire career on the West Coast, he should be happy to get out of Toronto and back into the warmer climate. The Angels’ who are in need of offense, hope that Pennington’s bat will warm-up as well in his newest city. The listed 5 foot 10 inch 195 pound, right handed hitting, Pennington owns a career .245 batting average. Maybe this will be his break out year? Unlikely but stranger things have happened.

Angels skipper Mike Scioscia, has tended to bring in his utility players late into ball games as defensive replacements the last couple of seasons. The trend started in the 2014 season when he would often replace starting 3rd baseman David Freese for then, utility infielder, John McDonald. The trend continued last season replacing Freese and at times, also Giavotella at second base with Taylor Featherston (who was DFA’ed today), so it is very possible that we will see Pennington and his respectable .971 overall fielding percentage and .987 at 2nd base take over in the later innings.- If he’s not on the mound. Pennington pitched for the Blue Jays last season in the American League Championship Series against the eventual World Series Champion Kansas City Royals.

Pennington will join an infield that has a new look on the left side with Yuniel Escobar and Andrelton Simmons and the Angels will be watching.