The LA Angels were not worried about their starting catcher this offseason, with Martin Maldonado coming off a Gold Glove, breakout season. However, they may have nabbed a great backup anyway with Rene Rivera.
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Despite a phenomenal season from Martin Maldonado in 2017, the backup catchers struggled. Carlos Perez and Juan Graterol both showed flashes, but neither was consistent enough to secure the spot going into 2018. So in comes Rene Rivera.
Rivera had a solid season last year in limited time. In 74 games last year. he hit .252 with a .736 on-base plus slugging percentage. At age 34, Rivera also has shut down capabilities on defense, with a solid arm and blocking ability. He controls baserunners well, and threw out 37% of steals.
A great comparison for Rivera is Maldonado himself. They have both shown ability at the plate, controls baserunners well, and are both great at calling pitches throughout the game. While Rivera is new to the Halos, pitchers will not have a hard time when he fills in for the Gold Glove winner in Maldonado.
Rivera has not just ran out of the gate this Spring Training, he has sprinted out of it. While it is a small sample size, Rivera is 5-6 with a home run, a double and two singles. He has also worked two walks and gotten hit by a pitch for an .857 on-base percentage. While it is only three games worth of hitting, Rivera has shown that his older age does not mean he won’t be able to produce for the Halos this year.
While Rivera will not be gunning for Maldonado’s job anytime soon, he will certainly be able to take a load of the Halos’ starter this season.