The Angels announced they’ve designated right-hander César Valdez for assignment to clear space on the active roster for southpaw José Suarez, who has been recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake. Los Angeles also announced that outfielder Aaron Whitefield has passed through waivers unclaimed and been outrighted to Double-A Rocket City.
Valdez’s stint in the big leagues proved exceedingly brief. The team just selected his contract last night, adding some multi-inning relief depth before a game against the Rangers. The 37-year-old got into the game, facing five batters and allowing a pair of runs (one earned) on two hits in an inning. He’ll immediately lose his MLB spot as the Angels cycle through arms after using six pitchers yesterday. Valdez is out of minor league option years, so the only way to replace him on the big league club was to remove him from the 40-man roster.
Signed to a minor league contract over the winter, the former Oriole has spent the bulk of the season with the Bees. After working out of the bullpen in Baltimore, he’s stayed stretched out as a starter with Salt Lake. Valdez was off to a very nice run there to begin the year, tossing 35 2/3 innings over five appearances. He’s posted a 3.03 ERA despite working more than seven frames per start, racking up grounders on almost three-fifths of batted balls while only walking four of the 137 hitters he’s faced (a minuscule 2.9% rate).
The Angels will presumably try to run him back through waivers in hopes of keeping him at Salt Lake as a multi-inning depth option. It’s at least possible some other team will be persuaded enough by Valdez’s strong start in the minors to devote him a 40-man roster spot that wasn’t available over the winter. Having previously been outrighted in his career, Valdez would have the right to refuse an assignment in favor of free agency if he goes unclaimed.
That’s also true of Whitefield, although the Angels didn’t specify whether he’ll do so. The 25-year-old outfielder was selected to the majors ten days ago. He appeared in five games, his first MLB work since a trio of contests with the 2020 Twins. An excellent runner capable of playing all three outfield spots, Whitefield has been off to a great start with the Trash Pandas. Over 111 plate appearances, the Australia native has hit .301/.400/.538 with five homers, 13 stolen bases and a massive 14.4% walk percentage.