LA Angels: Why Juan Lagares will make the Opening Day roster

Juan Lagares, Los Angeles Angels (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
Juan Lagares, Los Angeles Angels (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images) /

As spring training rolls on, one Angels player is making a strong case for the Opening Day roster. Non-roster invitee Juan Lagares is leading the way in the race for the fourth outfielder spot.

Lagares is batting .751 (4-for-7) with one RBI, one walk, three stolen bases, and zero strikeouts through four games. The 31-year old has also made a few nice defensive plays in center field.

Juan Lagares leads the way among outfielders for the Angels this spring.

A 2014 Gold Glove winner, Lagares has been known for flashing the leather, but a career .254/.297/.361 line has him fighting for a guaranteed roster spot. After posting a .288 batting average in the Dominican Winter Leagues, the Halos signed Lagares to a minor league deal last month.

General manager Perry Minasian took a flier on Lagares, and it looks like it could be well worth the investment. It’s only four games, but the center fielder is making it difficult for the Angels not to consider adding him to the Opening Day roster.

Lagares’ odds are also improving each time a player he is competing with continues to struggle.

Spring Training 2021 Statistics:

  • Scott Schebler (3 games): 0-for-4, 1 BB, 4 SO
  • Jon Jay (3 games): 0-for-7, 1 R, 3 SO
  • Taylor Ward (3 games): 1-for-3, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, BB
  • Jo Adell (5 games): 0-for-5, 2 R, 3 BB, 3 SO
  • Brandon Marsh (3 games): 1-for-3, 2 R, 1 BB, 2 SO
  • Jordyn Adams (4 games): 0-for-4, R, 1 BB, 3 SO

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As of now, Taylor Ward is the only player who has matched the production of Lagares. We have yet to see him behind the plate, but Ward is also listed as a catcher on the spring roster. This could add to Ward’s value and improve his odds of making the big league team.

If there is one thing holding Lagares back so far, it could be his lack of power. None of the four hits for Lagares have gone for extra bases, and he holds a career .361 slugging percentage. Still, a great glove, high batting average, and speed on the bases are more than enough to earn a roster spot.

I’ll go out on a limb and say at some point this season, Lagares plays so well manager Joe Maddon begins using him as an everyday player.

There’s a lot that needs to happen, and this is assuming Justin Upton or Dexter Fowler loses their starting jobs. The continued development of the Angels young outfielders would be factored into this as well.

If he makes the Opening Day roster, Lagares will earn $1.25 million for the 2021 season.

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There is still a long way to go, but it’s looking like Lagares may have revived his big-league career with the Angels.