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OC Register: Angels 2024 spring training position preview: catchers


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Angels pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to spring training on Feb. 13. As we count down the days until camp begins, we are going through the various position groups to give a breakdown of where the roster stands. Today, we look at the catchers. Previously: outfielders.

2023 RECAP

Max Stassi’s hip injury – and subsequent time away to tend to his prematurely born son – set the stage for Logan O’Hoppe to begin the season as the starter, even though he’d played just five major league games previously. He established himself as a favorite of the pitchers and he showed some pop with his bat, but he hurt his shoulder two weeks into the season, requiring surgery that knocked him out until late August. He still hit 14 home runs in just 199 plate appearances, with a .796 OPS. While O’Hoppe was out, Matt Thaiss and Chad Wallach split the duties. They held their own offensively, although both slumped late in the season. It all added up to a .706 OPS from the catchers, which was 15th in MLB. The relative lack of major league experience behind the plate might have had a negative impact on the pitchers, though.

HOW IT LOOKS RIGHT NOW

The Angels cleared the way to go with the same cast as last season when Stassi was traded in December. O’Hoppe certainly looks like he should be a productive starting catcher, based on what he did in his rookie season. If he takes the expected steps forward offensively, defensively and in leadership, he could emerge as one of baseball’s best young catchers. Thaiss, who is out of options, is in line to be O’Hoppe’s backup.

THE NEXT LAYER

In addition to re-signing Wallach to a minor league deal, the Angels signed Francisco Mejia to a minor league deal in December. Mejia was once one of the top catching prospects in baseball, but lately, he’s settled into a career as a competent backup. Mejia produced a .682 OPS over the past three years with the Tampa Bay Rays.

MOVE THEY COULD MAKE

If the Angels want a veteran to help guide O’Hoppe, they could go after a free agent like Yasmani Grandal, Mike Zunino, Curt Casali or Cam Gallagher. Grandal is known as one of baseball’s best framers.

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