LA Angels News

The LA Angels need to address the catching spot this winter

By David Rice
OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 21: Jonathan Lucroy #21 of the Oakland Athletics hits a sacrifice fly scoring Ramon Laureano #22 against the Minnesota Twins in the bottom of the second inning at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on September 21, 2018 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 21: Jonathan Lucroy #21 of the Oakland Athletics hits a sacrifice fly scoring Ramon Laureano #22 against the Minnesota Twins in the bottom of the second inning at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on September 21, 2018 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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The LA Angels have prided themselves on having strong defensive catchers who usually cannot hit very well.  However, at the end of the 2018 season the Angels did not have a catcher who could do either.

The LA Angels acquired Jose Briceno back in 2015 from the Atlanta Braves in the same deal that they acquired Andrelton Simmons.  Briceno is adequate defensive catcher, but has not shown to be a great hitter in the time he was in the majors in 2018 with the Angels.

The Angels also had Francisco Arcia who finally got his opportunity to play in the majors after close to 12 seasons and he started strong.  Arcia hit two home runs and drove in 12 runs in his first thre games in the majors.  However, Arcia ended up with six homers and 23 RBIs but only batted .204.   Briceno hit five homers and drove in 10 runs with a .239 batting average.

The Angels claimed Kevan Smith off waivers from the White Sox and he has shown to be able to hit decently well with a career .281 average and seven homers and 51 RBIs in limited action.  Smith could be an option at catcher, but his sample size is relatively small.

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So what should the Angels do?  My thought is that the Angels, who have no real every day catching options in the minors, should explore a trade or free agency.  Wilson Ramos has been said to be on the Angels short list to fill the catching void.  Ramos could be a good fit for a short-term contract maybe up to three years.  By then they will hopefully have a long-term options close to being ready.

Other free agent options such as Jonathon LuCroy and Kurt Suzuki maybe guys the Angels could sign for a bargain and they could again fill a short-term gap.  LuCroy and Suzuki have hit well over their careers and their defense is solid.  The Angels could also decide to re-sign Martin Maldonado who was solid for the 1.5 seasons with the Angels, but this is probably not likely as usually you don’t see players going back to a team that traded them after the season is over.

The Angels could also look at a more expensive option such as Matt Wieters and Brian McCann.  However both of these players are on the back side of 30 and would be a risk and probably not worth what the Angels would have to pay to sign them.

So this leaves one other option which is to try to acquire a catcher via a trade with another team.  If the Angels can use a couple of lesser prospects and maybe one major leaguer that will not hurt the team too much to lose then this option could be okay to explore.  However, if they must give up one of their main prospects such as Jo Adell, Brandon Marsh, Jahmai Jones, or Griffin Canning then it is probably not worth it to make the trade.

Next. Wilson Ramos: the answer to the Angels catching woes

We will have to see what Billy Eppler has up his sleeve in this department. Let’s wait and see what rabbit Mr. Eppler will pull out of his hat.

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