The Los Angeles Angels made a surprising trade with the Atlanta Braves on Friday, sending David Fletcher and Max Stassi to Atlanta in what can really only be seen as a salary dump. The Angels didn't get much back at all in return, but they did clear some money.
David Fletcher and Max Stassi are now members of the Atlanta Braves. Fletcher figures to be a backup infielder for them while Stassi appears to be on the trade block. He'd fit in as a solid backup catcher anywhere. While the Angels lost in the trade value-wise, they can now spend the money they saved on players who are better overall and better fits than Fletcher and Stassi were set to be on the 2024 Angels.
With Fletcher and Stassi out of the picture, these three players are set to gain the most.
1) Matt Thaiss
The easiest one to pick, without a doubt, is Matt Thaiss. Logan O'Hoppe is this team's starting catcher of the present and future. He had a strong rookie year when healthy, and looks to continue to develop in 2024. He'll get a bulk of the playing time, but catchers, even young catchers, don't play every day. Having a reliable backup is paramount, and Thaiss is now expected to fill into that role.
With Stassi here and set to make $7 million in 2024, Thaiss felt like a very real trade candidate. Sure, he's younger, cheaper, and arguably better, but Stassi's contract felt very hard to move. Perry Minasian did move it, clearing the way for Thaiss to fill in as O'Hoppe's backup.
Thaiss began last season as the backup but when O'Hoppe went down in April he was thrust into a starting role. He had a strong first half of the season before really slowing down as the season progressed.
Thaiss is not the player Angels fans hoped he'd be when the team selected him in the first round of the 2016 MLB Draft, but he also did show some signs of being a productive player. He put up quality at-bats and improved defensively as the season progressed. Stassi is better defensively, but provides very little with the bat. Thaiss at least isn't an automatic out.