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OC Register: Angels 2023 spring training position preview: catchers


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Angels pitchers and catchers are scheduled for their first workout of the spring on Feb. 15, with a smattering of other players who are on World Baseball Classic Rosters also in attendance. As we count down to the opening of camp, we’re analyzing the various position groups on the roster. Today, the catchers. Previously: outfielders, infielders.

2022 RECAP

The Angels felt good enough about Max Stassi as their primary catcher that they signed him to a three-year, $17.5 million deal in spring training, buying him out of two years of free agency. Stassi had produced a .784 OPS over the previous two seasons, well above average for a catcher. However, his 2022 was a disappointment at the plate. He posted a .571 OPS. Stassi still gave the Angels what they wanted defensively, though. They have frequently praised Stassi’s role in handling a pitching staff that improved. The Angels didn’t get much offensive production from anyone else behind the plate either. Kurt Suzuki had a .561 OPS and then he retired. At the end of the season, they gave cups of coffee to Matt Thaiss and Logan O’Hoppe, who had just been acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies in early August.

HOW IT LOOKS RIGHT NOW

Stassi, 31, is again in line to be the starting catcher, but last year’s performance has obviously shortened the leash that he’ll have to hold on to the job this year. O’Hoppe, 22, and Thaiss, 27, go into spring training as the leading candidates to share the job with Stassi. O’Hoppe is coming off a sensational minor league season, in which he posted a .961 OPS with 26 homers at Double-A. He is the consensus top prospect in the system. Thaiss, though, is out of options, so that could give him an advantage if the Angels believe O’Hoppe and Thaiss are close at the end of spring training.

THE NEXT LAYER

The Angels brought Chad Wallach back on a minor league deal. Wallach, 31, is a journeyman who has a career .561 OPS in parts of six seasons. Beyond that, the Angels don’t have any players with major league experience or who are highly-rated prospects at the upper levels of the minors. Eventually, Edgar Quero, 19, could be a major league catcher. He has earned some mention on Top 100 prospect lists this winter.

MOVE THEY COULD MAKE

Gary Sanchez is still on the free agent market, and he has ties to Angels manager Phil Nevin from their days together with the New York Yankees. The Angels aren’t in position to guarantee Sanchez much in terms of money or playing time, but if he’s willing to accept a minor league deal and perhaps even start the season at Triple-A, it might make sense for the Angels.

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57 minutes ago, Revad said:

Sanchez would help but if I’m adding right now it would be a pitcher.  

I suspect Fletcher knows what the deal is with Sanchez…...that’s why he mentioned minor league deal…..that isn’t going to prevent you from adding pitching….

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53 minutes ago, DMVol said:

I suspect Fletcher knows what the deal is with Sanchez…...that’s why he mentioned minor league deal…..that isn’t going to prevent you from adding pitching….

That makes sense.  I’d like to see Thaiss get a shot with the Angels, but some team will pick him up.  Oakland… Cincinnati….

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2 hours ago, DMVol said:

I suspect Fletcher knows what the deal is with Sanchez…...that’s why he mentioned minor league deal…..that isn’t going to prevent you from adding pitching….

I’d be very surprised if Sánchez had to settle for a minor league deal.

Are you saying Fletcher is implying the Angels would only sign Sánchez to a minor league deal?

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10 minutes ago, Trendon said:

I’d be very surprised if Sánchez had to settle for a minor league deal.

Are you saying Fletcher is implying the Angels would only sign Sánchez to a minor league deal?

The article does say: "The Angels aren’t in position to guarantee Sanchez much in terms of money or playing time, but if he’s willing to accept a minor league deal and perhaps even start the season at Triple-A, it might make sense for the Angels."

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14 minutes ago, jsnpritchett said:

The article does say: "The Angels aren’t in position to guarantee Sanchez much in terms of money or playing time, but if he’s willing to accept a minor league deal and perhaps even start the season at Triple-A, it might make sense for the Angels."

It’d make a ton of sense for the Angels, but very little sense for Sánchez.

You could say the same thing about all of the top remaining free agents.

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9 minutes ago, Revad said:

If he wants to compete for a job on a minor league deal, definitely.  A guaranteed contract of a couple million?  Maybe but I don’t think so.

Again, yeah, it would definitely make sense for the Angels. But it’d make no sense for Sánchez.

There are 6 free agent catchers who had worse 2022 seasons by fWAR than Sánchez, and still signed guaranteed MLB deals.

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29 minutes ago, Trendon said:

I’d be very surprised if Sánchez had to settle for a minor league deal.

Are you saying Fletcher is implying the Angels would only sign Sánchez to a minor league deal?

 

3 minutes ago, Trendon said:

It’d make a ton of sense for the Angels, but very little sense for Sánchez.

You could say the same thing about all of the top remaining free agents.

Could be…but it’s a week before pitchers and catchers report and he doesn’t seem to have a guaranteed deal to his liking….🤷‍♂️

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53 minutes ago, DMVol said:

 

Could be…but it’s a week before pitchers and catchers report and he doesn’t seem to have a guaranteed deal to his liking….🤷‍♂️

It’s hard to say from the outside.

Maybe he has multiple guaranteed deals, but he doesn’t want to accept being a backup. Or he wants to be paid more.

I just think he is deserving of a guaranteed deal, considering that many worse catchers got guaranteed deals.

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7 minutes ago, TempeAngel said:

I hope O'Hoppe wins the job in ST.

I think Thaiss will be the odd man out.

Stassi caught 102 games last year, the most he caught before that was 87 in 2017 and 86 in 2021.  He’s going to have a better year this year, especially if the backup can play 70 games.  The back up may be Thaiss to begin with and O’Hoppe later on.  Or Sanchez?

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3 minutes ago, HanfordGuy said:

What caused Stassi to hit more ground balls? It seems like he suffered from a bit of bad luck with his .239 BABIP. Was it the extra game appearances that caused the down year? Was there an injury?

His launch angle was down to 9.5 degrees in 2022 from 11 degrees in 2021.

Why was that the case? Not sure.

Even Stassi didn’t know:

“You go through times like this and I’ll overcome this,” Stassi said. “That’s the only thing I’ve got right now. If I knew exactly what was going on, I would tell you. It’s a combination of a few things. I’m not trusting my swing at times. It’s been hard, but I’ve got to keep working. I’ve been in situations like this throughout my career and I will come out on top.”

 

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12 hours ago, Trendon said:

It’s hard to say from the outside.

Maybe he has multiple guaranteed deals, but he doesn’t want to accept being a backup. Or he wants to be paid more.

I just think he is deserving of a guaranteed deal, considering that many worse catchers got guaranteed deals.

True….but some of these guys probably waited too long. Teams have largely spent their budgets. Chaffin may be pissed that Strohm got a good deal. Sometimes timing is everything. 

https://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/mlb/rumor-phillies-destroyed-relief-pitcher-market-with-this-deal-says-rival-executive/ar-AA16Md8Q

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3 hours ago, DMVol said:

True….but some of these guys probably waited too long. Teams have largely spent their budgets. Chaffin may be pissed that Strohm got a good deal. Sometimes timing is everything. 

https://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/mlb/rumor-phillies-destroyed-relief-pitcher-market-with-this-deal-says-rival-executive/ar-AA16Md8Q

In Sánchez’s case, where we’re talking about a minor league deal vs. a guaranteed contract, I don’t think budgets are a huge issue.

I think Sánchez would get a $2-$3 million contract, which wouldn’t break a team’s budget, over a minor league deal.

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24 minutes ago, Trendon said:

In Sánchez’s case, where we’re talking about a minor league deal vs. a guaranteed contract, I don’t think budgets are a huge issue.

I think Sánchez would get a $2-$3 million contract, which wouldn’t break a team’s budget, over a minor league deal.

What if he gets beat out for the job?  No real problem, eat some of that money and trade him.  

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27 minutes ago, Revad said:

What if he gets beat out for the job?  No real problem, eat some of that money and trade him.  

If you sign him to a major league deal, it’s his job.

They wouldn’t sign him and then eat money and trade him a month later. That’s also not allowed by the CBA.

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54 minutes ago, Trendon said:

In Sánchez’s case, where we’re talking about a minor league deal vs. a guaranteed contract, I don’t think budgets are a huge issue.

I think Sánchez would get a $2-$3 million contract, which wouldn’t break a team’s budget, over a minor league deal.

Still surprised he might slide even to a low guaranteed deal but it is what it is….

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46 minutes ago, Trendon said:

If you sign him to a major league deal, it’s his job.

They wouldn’t sign him and then eat money and trade him a month later. That’s also not allowed by the CBA.

Good point.  They’d have to eat the money if O’Hoppe won the job outright.  What is it, about three months before you can trade a FA?

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I've shared this before, but if O'Hoppe gets rushed because we "don't have any viable alternatives," I'm going to be pissed.  We've seen how that works out.  I just hope if he only plays if he's truly ready and has nothing left to prove.  I would feel so much better if the MLB club had some decent alternatives, but he showed he's ready before being called up.  Don't F with our top prospect's development, please!

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46 minutes ago, Blarg said:

Sanchez is just another layer of mediocrity that doesn't improve the team, you just think he does because he is from outside the organization. He is still available because no team wants to lower their floor to have him on their roster. 

Mediocrity is an improvement from what the Angels rostered in 2022.

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