The Wild Card
At the beginning of this article, I mentioned the Angels could make a wild card “option”. Not one player. The move that the Angels could make that would be equally as risky as potentially rewarding would be the simplest one.
Do nothing at all.
The Angels have two very interesting catchers in Jose Briceno and Francisco Arcia. Arcia set records with his hot start, driving in 10 runs in his first two starts. However, after his historic start, Arcia hit an abysmal .168 with a .512 OPS in the following 38 games (24 starts).
Arcia is not the most interesting guy though. That honor goes to Jose Briceno.
Briceno hit .239 over the course of 128 at-bats. Of catchers with 275 at-bats, Briceno would have ranked seventh in the American League. He would rank right ahead of Salvador Perez of the Kansas City Royals, who just so happened to make the 2018 All Star Game.
Briceno also plays stellar defense. His caught stealing percentage of 44% is much higher than the league average 28%. He also only had two errors the entire season, and flashed the same kind of game management that Maldonado exhibited in his time in Anaheim.
The risk with Briceno is not having enough of a sample size to be super confident in his ability to replicate his 2018 over a full 2019 season. Evaluators usually look for 300 plate appearances, and Briceno finished the season with just 128.
He is far from a sure thing for the LA Angels. He could have been hot in 2018, and might not be able to handle a starter’s role in 2019. On the contrary, he could benefit from regular playing time, improve, and even make the All Star team in 2019 if everything goes exceptionally.