Over the weekend the Angels reportedly signed outfielder Scott Schebler to a minor league contract.
Schebler is a left-handed hitter, but doesn’t have extreme splits in his career, hitting .231/.324/.440, a 99 wRC+ against right-handed pitchers, and .265/.297/.448, a 93 wRC+ against lefties. Hitting right-handers was a strength of the Angels offense in 2020, hitting .250/.340/.432, with a 114 wRC+ that ranked sixth in the majors.
But most of Schebler’s production came two-plus years ago.
In 2019 with the Reds, Schebler was just 11-for-95 in the majors, hitting .123/.253/.222, and not much better (.216/.274/.325) in Triple-A. In 2020, Schebler was designated for assignment in the week before opening day, then traded for cash to the Braves, where new Angels general manager Perry Minasian was assistant GM.
Schebler had only one at-bat in the majors this season. Considering he just turned 30 and hasn’t produced since 2018, it may very well be that Schebler is cooked. But a minor league deal for a potentially league-average bat with power (30 home runs in 2017) is worth taking a flier on.
At the very least, Schebler can provided minor league depth in Triple-A. The Angels haven’t had a winning record in the last five years, and have a talent deficit to make up. In 2020, 26.6 percent of the Angels’ major league plate appearances and 31.6 percent of their innings came from players at replacement level or worse.
This isn’t a seven-figure guarantee to Tim Lincecum, Matt Harvey, and the like. Schebler is on a minor league deal, without a roster spot unless he earns it on the field. Any chance the Angels get to possibly upgrade, even on an incremental level, is an opportunity they should take.
Among the keys for new general manager Perry Minasian in Anaheim will be how well he works with owner Arte Moreno, writes Ken Rosenthal at The Athletic:
Some of Minasian’s friends in the game, however, believe he possesses the right kind of personality to mesh with Moreno. Minasian will be unfazed by Moreno’s criticisms or intrusion and stand up for himself when necessary, those people say.
His fastball sat 94-96 mph with sinking, tailing life and he commanded three secondary pitches that all drew plus grades from evaluators. His slider, in particular, jumped forward to become the best pitch in his arsenal.
Pitching instructor and author Brian Vikander talked with David Laurila at FanGraphs, and had this comp for longtime Angels pitcher Jered Weaver:
I scouted him when he was at Long Beach State, and while he was a dominant pitcher when he came up, by the end of his career he was pitching anywhere between 53 and 83. He wasn’t giving them the Blue Bayou, he was getting big-league hitters out with all that other stuff. He was an Emperor Without Clothes on the mound. Hitters knew he couldn’t throw anything by them, yet he could still make them look stupid. It was Spassky playing chess. It was wonderful.”