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Angels will not make a contract offer to catcher Kevan Smith

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The Angels on Monday refused to offer a contract to catcher Kevan Smith, making him a free agent on the day teams had to decide the fate of eligible arbitration players on their 40-man rosters.

The move leaves the Angels behind with only two catchers, Anthony Bemboom and Max Stassi, on their 40-man roster the week before the start of the winter meetings in San Diego. Despite the fact that he was not looking for a backstop last month, general manager Billy Eppler could indeed strengthen the depth of the organization in the position before the low season is over.

Smith's departure, 31, comes after a season shortened by injuries. He was put aside three times – first for concussion, then because of a sprain of the left wrist and back pain. He played in only 67 games.

Although he struck .251 with a usable .710 on-base-plus-slugging percentage if he was healthy, Smith's defense held him liable. He allowed 30 of 35 attempted samples and stood behind the plate for 29 wild throws. He was a poor framer and cost the Angels eight points of additional attacks, according to Baseball Savant.

After losing four consecutive seasons, owner Arte Moreno is committed to expanding the team budget to better enable Eppler to put together a team that can compete for the play-offs.

A divisional place can be tricky to reach with the AL pennant-winning Houston Astros ready to return their powerful attack and the Oakland Athletics from a second consecutive 97-win season.

But the angels can enter the battle by spending money on their rotation. They should have enough financial power to compete for free-agent pitchers Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Zach Wheeler and Madison Bumgarner, among others. They also have enough minor league capital in the way of top-level prospects to support their pitching staff through transactions.

The Angels have offered contracts to their eight remaining players who are eligible for arbitration (position and ages for the 2020 season):

RHP Cam Bedrosian, 28

Before a forearm tribe cost him the last month of the 2019 season, Bedrosian organized one of the best campaigns of his career. He had an ERA of 3.23 in 59 matches. He logged 64 strikeouts in 61 1/3 innings. Batters only hit .207 against him. He was also the left-handed bullpen specialist who lacked a reliable left-handed reliever, keeping left-handed batters on a .172 average. The injury, often a precursor to Tommy John's surgery, should not affect Bedrosian's availability for next season.

LHP Andrew Heaney, 29

Heaney & # 39; s season was again injured with injuries. He only made 18 starts as a result. He was, however, hardly an outlier in a team whose pitching staff was compromised by multiple injured list hints and the death of Tyler Skaggs. Eppler still believes that Heaney, who made a team-leading 30 starts in 2018, is a threatening piece of rotation. Despite an increased ERA (4.91) and home run rate (1.9 per nine innings), Heaney showed an above-average ability to miss bats. He retired 118 in 95 1/3 innings.

RHP Keynan Middleton, 26

Middleton returned from the Tommy John operation which he underwent on time in early 2018 to make 11 appearances from the Angels bullpen. He had an ERA of 1.17 over 7 2/3 innings. Although he has had little opportunity to prove his worth, Middleton seemed ready to become the Angels poet in his 2017 debut season. When he returned to take up that cloak the following spring, he tore the ulnar collateral after six notches in 16 games.

RHP Noe Ramirez, 30

Despite a relapse at the end of the season after an almost month-long absence due to illness, Ramirez made a good case for a substantial increase in his first year of salary arbitration. He finished with a 3.99 ERA in 50 games and struckout 79 over 67 2/3 innings. Opponents beat .232 against him. His 89-91 mph fastball is not overwhelming, but still swings and misses 32% of the time, an improvement of 11% over the previous season. His substitution was also a good strikeout.

RHP Hansel Robles, 29

Robles became one of the best players in the American League after the start of the season as an understudy for veteran Cody Allen. Robles & # 39; best career year was a 2.48 ERA in 72 2/3 innings, 23 saves in 27 chances and 75 strikeouts. The rediscovery of a substitution in the 1980s – combined with his hard fastball and slider – enabled him to post an ERA of 1.52 in his last 44 games. That figure was the bestseller among AL relievers who threw at least 31 innings during the last four months of the season.

C Max Stassi, 29

Stassi, acquired on the Houston Astros trade deadline, presents an opposite Smith case: he has never been an offensive threat, but he is well-regarded for his framing capabilities. He converted 53.3% of the non-swing places at the edges of the zone into strikes, the third best rate among catchers who received at least 975 places. He also saved six points from additional attacks, according to Baseball Savant. He finished seventh in baseball with 10.6 framing runs, behind MLB leader Austin Hedges (26 framing runs), Yasmani Grandal (19.4) and AL Gold Glove winner Roberto Perez (15.5).

Stassi ended his 2019 season, which was also canceled due to injuries, due to hip surgery. His status before the start of spring training in February is unknown.

INF Tommy La Stella, 31

La Stella, a former utility player of Chicago Cubs who hit 10 homers in 396 games in his first five big league seasons, hit .300 with 16 homers and 44 RBI's in 78 games for the Angels before a shin torpedoed his outbreak season . He was voted by players as an All-Star reserve, but stood on crutches for the July 9 game in Cleveland. La Stella was able to leave the incident by the end of the year and appeared as a designated hitter in two of the last three games. He hit one hit – a double and hit once in nine at bats.

FROM Brian Goodwin, 29

Just like La Stella, Goodwin flourished in a team that gave him enough playing time. He hit .262 with 17 home runs and a .796 OPS in 136 games, drove 47 runs and scored 65. He could serve as a substitute for Kole Calhoun in rightfield if the Angels decide that toppers Jo Adell is not yet ready to jump to the major competitions.

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