The Angels and catcher Max Stassi have avoided arbitration with an $800K agreement, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com tweets. That’s the exact salary MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected for Stassi a few months back.
Stassi didn’t hit much in 2019 with the Astros and Angels, the latter of whom acquired him at the July trade deadline, and he underwent hip surgery in September. Nevertheless, the catcher-needy Angels have elected to keep him on their roster this offseason. The club recently added free agent Jason Castro, who will be its starting backstop in 2020, leaving the out-of-options Stassi as its primary backup.
Stassi, 28, isn’t far removed from an impressive all-around showing as an Astro in 2018. He slashed .226/.316/.394 (100 wRC+) while providing premium defense that year, though his offensive numbers cratered after the first couple months of the campaign. And last season was an offensive disaster for Stassi, owner of a .138/.211/.167 line across 147 trips to the plate. He did, however, remain a terrific defender, according to Baseball Prospectus’ Fielding Runs Above Average metric, while throwing out a league-average 27 percent of would-be base thieves.
WHEW!!! I was worried sick about that one!
That’s about $800k and a roster spot too much. He looked completely lost at the plate here last year. Might have missed his trash can too much.
With Castro’s semi recent knee surgery Stassi as a backup is a scary proposition. I know he’s (Castro) been pretty durable through his career but an aging C has to heighten concerns
Not a very smart move take a roster spot Damn I could probably have a 138 batting average in the big leagues myself l really don’t like this move What they really should do is turn Taylor ward back into a catcher as he was drafted as a catcher he could hit better than 138 batting average
Billy Eppler Will be Unemployed next year I know he find some diamonds in the rough but facing him signing free agents has been a disaster draft picks besides Odell haven’t been all that great
BuT gUyS ThE AnAlYtIcS SaYz He iS An ExElLeNt PiTcH fRaMeR aNd iS In ThE toP 9.7 pErCeNt In ThE aMeRiCaN lEaGuE in PoWeRaDe cOoleR fIlL up TiMe!!!!!!!
“Hey Taylor, remember how you were a catcher then a couple seasons ago we decided that your acumen at the position was such that if you had any hope of making it to the big leagues you’d have to learn a new position.
“Yeah I do.”
“Thanks for doing that. It’s worked out so far. Anyway reason I’m calling is we’d like to turn you back into a catcher, the position you were so bad at.
“We believe you can hit better than Stassi at .138.”
“Haven’t broken .200 in the bigs yet but fingers crossed.”
“We know 2017 was the last time you played this super physically demanding position so you should probably start getting ready for that now.”
“Yeah you’re right.”
“Oh also you haven’t called a game any higher than AA so you’re gonna want to brush up on that, Oh and learn the ins and outs of steering a pitching staff, managing personalities, and adjusting to our particular group of misfit toys. Let’s see here…how good are you/were you/are you at controlling the running game?”
“You know what, I’m wasting time and if you were really serious about this you would have hung up already. Have fun Taylor, we’re counting on you. Also if you’re not better at catching than when we made you stop we’re going to be really mad.”
“This is smart. This is good.”
I think it would be a good idea to have him return to catching. In real life Ward was a good defensive C and good with a staff. He had some power with a solid bat . Looked good then stalled with the bat at AA. At that time the GM says to him we think it might help you to switch positions and it might help you unlock your bat potential and was told about Josh Donaldson and others that took off after stop catching.
It worked great even stole a bunch of bases. At least AA and AAA then has had problems hitting in the bigs. I think things have change and his path to the bigs is blocked now at third the top 3 angel prospects play the other position he was learning . This is his best way to the Majors. He might even find his bat but I think he can at least be a good C again .
He was not moved because of his D. It was to try to unlock his bat. He was very good at catching.
I didn’t impugn Ward’s defense, Though a quick jaunt through articles about Ward brought the following:
“The Angels weren’t satisfied with his defense or offense when he was behind the plate,”
Not long ago, Taylor Ward was a former first-round, soft-hitting catcher with a rocket arm but an inability to block the ball who was stalled in the Angels’ minor-league system”
“Drafted as a high-upside offensive catcher, there was always a chance he would move off the position for the long-term benefits of, to put it plainly, not catching.”
“…a hit-first backstop with a good approach and a strong arm but with some defensive issues that limited his ceiling.”
The position involves offense and defense. The combination of the two is what I am referring to as being “a catcher.” If the solution to a player’s problems at Catcher is to make him not be one, he’s not a good catcher.
“At that time the GM says to him we think it might help you to switch positions and it might help you unlock your bat potential ”
You make it sound like the Angels thought act of switching positions itself would jimmy Ward’s bat out of his brain, They made the switch specifically because they didn’t think he could be the offensive force he was projected to be while handling the intense physical/mental workload of all the other parts of being a catcher. So not good enough as a catcher to remain a Catcher.
This all begs a couple questions-
1. The Angels ended Ward’s catching career at least partly because of the effects of the position itself on his offense. With Ward seeing terrible results in the big leagues so far, what good would him returning to that position do?
2018 – You can’t hit as a catcher. Play 3rd base
2019 – You can’t hit at 3rd base. Play a little LF.
2020 – Be a catcher again and please don’t look at the beginning of this list.
“good with a staff”
Anecdotal. I’d love to see anywhere where Taylor Ward’s dealings with a pitching staff are lauded as being…anything. Did I miss something? Were the ’16 Orem Owls making like the 90’s Braves and giving Ward credit?
To put him back at catcher, a position he hasn’t played in almost 2 calendar years, he’d have to
=Get back into catching shape
-Reach not just the skill level he had in AA when they shut him down, but get two levels better/major league ready
-Learn/internalize how to be a catcher in the major leagues as far as intrapersonal communication with the entirety of pitching staff
-Substantially increase his Major League offensive production while playing the most demanding position on the field, the position that the team was already blaming for stunting.stalling said production.
So the Angels would have Ward at backup catcher with his under ,200 MLB average, his brain now re-piled with the Encyclopedia’s-worth of expectations, information etc. You’ve basically made a career-stalling, bananas decision for a player who looks like he could be a big bust offensively. So a pretty unprecented reverse rigamarole and you’d basically have: Stassi with worse defense.
Or they could just sign a real, available catcher.
you might be correct about Ward but will say the info I read on his D was that it was strong. not sure what that was based on, maybe his arm. I do remember it was the Angels management that praised his Leadership and ability manage a pitching staff.
It would be very hard for him to switch back to C but he would be at AAA and a roll of the dice but with some upside if he does.
He is already under contract and has hit at AAA Maybe with his mind on catching he might relax more when batting. Maybe not, but there are other players needing playing time at those other positions. One more thing , who is going to start the season at C at AAA until Stassi is healthy.
Ward had/has a strong arm, hence trying him at 3rd and LF. It’s the all-the-other-parts he was unable to master.
“I do remember it was the Angels management that praised his Leadership and ability manage a pitching staff.”
It just doesn’t make sense that they would reward that with ‘now you never get to do it again.’ Both of those are also completely different beasts in the majors vs. Rookie, A, and A+ where Ward caught the majority of his games as a pro.
“It would be very hard for him to switch back to C but he would be at AAA”
Ward started 21 games in AA in 2017, his last professional Catching experience, which went poorly enough to give him the boot from behind the plate. If he was to return to the position, there’s no way the organization would restart his refresher course a level up from where his experience stopped.
This is why the notion of him returning to catcher would be of little/no assistance to the Angels. It’s would be a return to a position the organization has already decided he’s likely not capable of managing at the major league level, but also that he’ll be expected to already better at after two completely catching-free years, and with a steep learning curve to get him from AA Catcher=turned 3B/LF to Guy Capable of Being an MLB catcher. All ostensibly for his bat at catcher, despite it being completely unproven in the majors.
“Maybe with his mind on catching he might relax more when batting.”
Yes typically when you want to relax/focus when performing a task it’s best to have dozens of other things to think about simultaneously: each at least as important, if not moreso, than his ABs, to distract you. Distraction is the key. It’s why libraries are so noisy.
Also would be fun to see how the Angels explain that rationale considering it’s literally the inverse of a huge factor in moving Ward off of Catcher in hopes to salvage his high-upside bat. Would definitely build confidence…
“One more thing , who is going to start the season at C at AAA until Stassi is healthy.”
As I’m not anyone on the Angels AAA roster’s mom, my instinct is “who cares? Another catcher.” Taylor Ward? Nuh uh.
Baseball didn’t run out of catchers. This is an unnecessary dice roll with snake=eyes on 5 sides. It would be a reclamation project if there were any track record they’d be chasing.
Yay for Castro!
well, he could get better.
Pretty much has to
Sweet Stassi Molassy!
Sadly that was the best picture they could find