The Angels announced Thursday that they’ve acquired infielder Jack Mayfield from the Braves in exchange for cash. Fellow infielder Robel Garcia was designated for assignment to open a 40-man roster spot. Atlanta designated Mayfield for assignment yesterday.
Mayfield, 30, is something of a familiar face for the Angels, as his lone big league experience has come over the past couple seasons with the division-rival Astros. He landed with Atlanta earlier in the offseason after being designated for assignment in Houston. New Angels general manager Perry Minasian previously worked with the Braves as an assistant GM under Alex Anthopoulos, so it seems likely that both Anthopoulos and Minasian were fans of Mayfield’s versatility and glovework during their time together in Atlanta.
The Astros gave Mayfield 112 Major League plate appearances across the past two seasons, but the resulting .170/.198/.283 batting line was obviously rather underwhelming. It’s a tiny sample of work, however, and Mayfield’s career .268/.325/.472 slash in parts of four Triple-A seasons (1224 plate appearances) creates some more reason for optimism.
With the Astros, Mayfield served as a right-handed-hitting backup at second base, shortstop and third base, grading well defensively at each position. He also still has minor league options remaining, making him a possible Triple-A stash for an Angels club that looks quite strong defensively with Anthony Rendon, Jose Iglesias and David Fletcher lined up around the infield.
Garcia, 27, has gone from the Cubs to the Reds to the Mets to the Angels on waivers since last summer. He’s an interesting story, having washed out of affiliated ball for about four years before resurfacing with a pro club in Italy back in 2019. He caught the Cubs’ attention while playing in Europe and, after signing a minor league deal with Chicago, skyrocketed through their system while showing light-tower power but a huge susceptibility to strikeouts.
In 98 minor league games with the Cubs in ’19, Garcia posted a monstrous .284/.369/.586 slash with 27 home runs in 388 plate appearances. The power was clear to see, and it earned him a ticket to the big leagues just months after he’d been playing in Italy. The Cubs gave him 80 plate appearances at the MLB level, and he punched out in 35 of them, highlighting his contact issues. However, while Garcia only hit .208 with a .275 on-base percentage, he also slugged .500 on the strength of five homers, two doubles and two triples in that brief 80-plate appearance cup of coffee.
The fact that he’s been passed around the league this much already shows that many clubs are intrigued by the power but wary enough of the strikeouts that they can’t commit to a lasting 40-man spot. He does have minor league options remaining, so it’s possible he’ll land with yet another club after his latest DFA. The Angels have a week to trade him or try to pass him through outright waivers.