Well that didn’t take long. Last night, the Angels traded from their glut of first baseman by sending CJ Cron to Tampa Bay, potentially posing the question of what would happen next. Turns out, we only needed one day to find out.
The Angels have needed a fourth outfielder for a majority of the offseason with Ben Revere hitting the market. They may have found their answer in the seasoned veteran, Chris Young (not to be confused with the pitcher for the Padres). Young has had a very solid, Major League career, carving out a niche as a versatile outfielder who crushes left-handed pitching. After very successful stints with the Yankees in 2015 and the Red Sox in 2016, Young struggled in 2017, hitting .235/.322/.387 with a -0.2 fWAR in his final season in Boston. Known for his ability to thrash left-handed pitching, he hit a pedestrian .200/.310/.280 against opposite-handed pitching in 2017 and his defensive numbers dipped (-4 Defensive Runs saved and a -3.4 UZR). Young was given a $2 million dollar deal plus incentives, but perhaps more notable, is the fact that it was a Major League contract. Young is slated to be the teams fourth outfielder behind superhero Mike Trout, freshly re-signed Justin Upton, and fan favorite Kole Calhoun. He could spell Calhoun against tough left-handed pitching, provide some insurance behind Upton, and be Trout’s backup in the event Trout needs a day off or, lord forbid, gets hurt again.
On the surface, this is a fine deal. The fourth outfielder would, ideally, be left-handed for this team and a more comforting option in center field. Young hasn’t played center field since 2016 and he only logged 25 innings there and at the age of 34, it might not be wise to assume he’ll turn back the clock and be a viable option there again. If he can resort back to his lefty mashing ways, a career .262/.361/.466 hitter against lefties, he should be a useful option off of the bench. Getting 2015-2016 Young would give the Angels a very valuable reserve outfielder. Regardless of his ability, or lack thereof, to play center anymore, he’s most likely the backup there. We just need to hope Trout doesn’t tear another thumb ligament.
Billy Eppler made it “Chris x2 Day” or “Chris Squared” with the addition of the big slugger, Chris Carter. Carter is coming off of a bad season with the Bronx Bombers, .201/.284/.370 in 208 PA’s, but has success in the past at doing one thing: hitting dingers. He’s only two years removed from leading the National League in homers with Milwaukee in 2016 with 41, but this is most likely small deal to help mitigate the loss of depth from the Cron trade. Carter is a one trick pony, but he gives the team some depth at first base with Cron now in Florida. There’s really no risk involved here. Carter was given a $1.75 million dollar deal if he makes it to the Majors to go along with $600K in incentives.
So Young looks like the fourth outfielder coming out of Spring Training, Carter looks like a surefire bet to be in AAA Salt Lake if/when he clears waivers, and the bench is starting to take shape. Rivera and Young are the guarantees and the last spot might end up being a competition between guys like Kaleb Cowart, Emmanuel Burriss, Nolan Fontana, and others. Coming from this Halo fan, however, I’d feel a bit more comfortable with the team if they added another versatile piece to the bench.
Eppler continues to put the finishing touches on the roster.