11:56 am: Lagares’ deal would pay him $1.25MM if he makes the Angels’ major league roster, reports Mark Feinsand of MLB.com (Twitter link).
10:13 am: The Angels have signed outfielder Juan Lagares to a minor-league contract, as first reported by Rolando Fermín (Twitter link) and confirmed by Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. The deal includes an invitation to major league spring training.
Lagares has appeared in parts of eight major league seasons, all as a member of the Mets. A high-end defender, Lagares had a run as New York’s primary center fielder between 2013-15 but has seen his playing time drop off a bit in recent seasons. Never a particularly strong hitter, Lagares slumped to a .213/.279/.326 slash line over 285 plate appearances in 2019. He signed with the Padres last offseason but elected free agency after failing to crack the big league roster out of spring training. Lagares then returned to the Mets, where he appeared in two games as a defensive replacement but didn’t take an at-bat.
The 31-year-old now looks to have a decent opportunity to play his way onto the Angels’ roster this spring. Young talents Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh might be ticketed for the minors to start the season. That would only leave Taylor Ward as a primary outfielder on Los Angeles’ 40-man roster beyond the projected starting group of Justin Upton, Mike Trout and Dexter Fowler. (Infielders Jared Walsh, Franklin Barreto and Matt Thaiss each have very limited MLB experience in the grass, as well). Fellow non-roster invitee Scott Schebler looks to be Lagares’ most direct competition for a bench spot at the moment, although it’d hardly be surprising to see the Angels bring in another outfielder or two on a minor-league deal before spring training gets underway.