The Angels announced today that they’ve signed infielder Cliff Pennington to a two-year contract. Pennington, a client of Sosnick, Cobbe and Karon, will receive $1.5MM in 2016 and $2.25MM in 2017 for a $3.75MM guarantee, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports (via Twitter). Pennington can also earn up to $750K per season based on plate appearances, according to MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez (Twitter link).
Pennington, 31, split the 2015 season between the D-Backs and Blue Jays, batting a combined .210/.298/.281 in what was the worst offensive season of his eight-year Major League career. However, Pennington entered the 2015 season with a lifetime .248/.315/.350 batting line, giving hope that he can rebound to an extent at the plate while continuing to delivery sound defensive value by way of run prevention and positional versatility.
Pennington can competently play second base, shortstop and third base, grading out as an average or better defender at each infield position according to Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved. He’s a switch-hitter that has typically fared better from the larger (left-handed) side of the platoon, and while his speed hasn’t been as apparent in recent years, he averaged 19 steals per season in 2010-12 and has generally been a positive all-around contributor on the basepaths.
Pennington can provide the Angels with a backup plan to newly acquired Andrelton Simmons, as the team’s only backup option at shortstop had been Taylor Featherston, who is probably ticketed for Triple-A to open the 2016 campaign after surviving 2015 as a little-used Rule 5 utility option. The Angels currently have uncertainty at both second base and third base, so bringing Pennington into the fold gives them a bit of depth on the Major League roster, though they’ll almost certainly look to upgrade at one of the two spots. Johnny Giavotella handled second base duties in 2015 but is a poor defender with limited offensive upside, and the Angels may not want to count on Kyle Kubitza or Kaleb Cowart to immediately step into the picture at third base given their lack of experience.
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