LA Angels: Juan Lagares brings outfield competition to spring training
By Alfonso Cerna
The Angels added more depth to their outfield on Saturday, signing former Gold Glove outfielder Juan Lagares to a minor league deal.
Lagares signed a minor league deal with the Padres last spring but did not make the final roster.
The 31-year old later re-signed with the Mets and appeared in two games but did not record a plate-appearance before he was designated for assignment.
Highlight reel defense is what Lagares is best known for during his seven seasons in New York, but light-hitting eventually lost him playing time. Lagares holds a career .254/.297/.361 line with 25 home runs and 179 RBI.
Lagares’ best offensive season came in 2014, where he slashed .281/.321/.382 with four home runs and 47 RBI. The outfielder also received the National League Gold Glove Award that same year.
Lagares has recently spent the past few months playing in the Dominican Winter League and Caribbean Series.
Lagares Winter Statistics (2020-2021)
- Domincan Winter League: (23 games) 95 PA .283/.305/.348 0 HR 11 RBI
- Caribbean Series: (4 games) 16 PA .250/.375/.750 2 HR 7 RBI
With the recent addition of Dexter Fowler, there will be a battle for spots in the outfield this spring. Mike Trout will play in center field of course, and after that I think it’s up in the air for the corner positions.
Following the recent minor league signing of Juan Lagares, there is increased competition for the final roster spots in the Angels outfield.
Due to his hefty contract, Justin Upton will get his chance to start opening day in left field. Upton’s opportunities will only last so long throughout the season if the production is not there. Baring a poor spring training, I think the right-field spot is Fowler’s to lose at the moment.
This leaves one or maybe two spots on the roster for reserve outfielders.
Manager Joe Maddon has already said Jo Adell will spend time in the minor leagues this season. The same can be assumed about top prospect Brandon Marsh. Unless either of the two has an incredible spring camp, I’m sure the Halos will continue their developments.
The final spot(s) will likely come down to Lagares, Taylor Ward, Scott Schebler, and perhaps a lesser-known spring invitee. Ward still has minor league options remaining so the Halos can go that route if they chose.
The surplus of current and future outfielders can also open the door for a trade at some point for Angels general manager Perry Minasian. Whether or not that is a risk the team will make any time soon remains to be seen.
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Like the Fowler addition, I see no harm bringing in Lagares. I think there is still enough upside in his game to see if it’s worth a shot for the Angels.
The increased competition will also bring out the best in the other Halos outfielders. If it’s not Lagares, someone is bound to step into a bigger role come opening day.