The LA Angels have signed longtime backup Major League catcher Austin Romine to a Minor League deal. The move was announced by the team as official on Wednesday. Romine has been well-below average since he entered the league in 2011. Batting .238/.277/.358 (.635 OPS) with a 70 OPS+ in his career, Romine is not currently expected to be on the Major League roster come Opening Day.
Perhaps, however, Romine could push LA Angels' third catcher Kurt Suzuki in spring training or during the season through strong spring training and/or Minor League performance. Suzuki was brought back for reasons that are not good enough for me and many other Los Angeles fans, and if he struggles, the Halos now have another option who's played 10 seasons in the Big Leagues.
The backup catcher will be the talented Matt Thaiss, who the Halos will likely want to prioritize when it comes to playing time over Romine. Therefore, Romine likely will not be able to jump Thaiss. If Suzuki struggles, however, which is likely, look for Romine to potentially get a call.
Austin Romine could potentially be better than Suzuki was last year for the LA Angels.
Austin Romine can likely find a way to rival Suzuki's .224/.294/.342 (.636 OPS) line that he put up last year in his first season with the LA Angels. He also can likely not rival Suzuki's embarrassing 10 errors. Only one Angel had more and he got released from the team before the season ended.
After all, as Jared Tims of Talkin' Halos pointed out on Twitter, Romine is better at framing pitches than Suzuki has been these last few years:
The flip side of that, however, is of course that basically any catcher could be better at pitch framing than Suzuki these days. Of course, Romine's mark is still -2 which is pretty poor. It remains perplexing as to why these are the moves that the Angels are making while other big market teams are going all out.
With the Angels having the two best players in baseball in their primes, as well as being in an aggressive and massive LA market, they should be approaching the luxury tax threshold in spending. Poor pitching has kept this team from making the postseason since 2014, and there was lots for the taking this offseason. Arte Moreno certainly had the money to significantly improve the pitching staff. Unfortunately, however, he also doesn't seem to understand any of this for an eighth straight time.