Angels catcher Max Stassi will undergo right hip surgery and require a recovery timeline of four to six months, manager Brad Ausmus announced to reporters Tuesday (Twitter link via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register).
That timeline could well hinder Stassi, 28, from being ready for the beginning of Spring Training. A six-month rehab process would carry him through late March, potentially rendering him unavailable for the start of the 2020 campaign. Of course, that assumes that Stassi makes it to Spring Training with the Angels next season. He’ll be eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter, and between his hip surgery and a feeble .136/.211/.167 batting line through 147 plate appearances, he stands out as a non-tender candidate.
The Angels acquired Stassi shortly before this year’s trade deadline with the hope that a change of scenery could invigorate his bat. Stassi’s defensive prowess is well known, as he perennially rates as a premium pitch framer and draws strong reviews for his blocking abilities as well. Stassi posted a respectable .226/.316/.394 batting line with eight long balls and 13 doubles in 250 plate appearances with Houston a season ago, so it’s not a stretch to think that he could have more in the tank offensively. A change of fortune was (clearly) not in the cards, however.
Between Stassi, the since-released Jonathan Lucroy, Kevan Smith, Dustin Garneau and Anthony Bemboom, the Angels haven’t received much at all in terms of offensive production from their catchers in 2019. The organization’s farm system has improved dramatically in recent seasons but still lacks a potential difference-maker behind the dish; of the Angels’ top 30 prospects at MLB.com, none are catchers. Fangraphs lists Double-A backstop Jack Kruger 27th among Angels farmhands, but he hit just .240/.300/.309 in 380 Double-A plate appearances this season.
Suffice it to say, the Angels look like a team that’ll have catching help near the top of the offseason wishlist. Yasmani Grandal will headline this year’s class of free-agent catchers, while Jason Castro and a revitalized Travis d’Arnaud look like potential regulars for catching-needy teams, as well. Trade possibilities will surely arise as well in what should be a busy offseason for an Angels club that’ll also be looking to fortify its injury-plagued starting rotation.