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.
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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