The Angels announced Wednesday that infielder Andrew Velazquez has been diagnosed with a torn meniscus in his right knee and has been placed on the 10-day injured list. Infielder Michael Stefanic is up from Triple-A Salt Lake in his place, the team added. Velazquez exited yesterday’s game after four innings due to a knee injury sustained while making a play at shortstop.
Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register tweets that Velazquez is set to undergo surgery, which comes with a recovery period of six to eight weeks. That, obviously, brings the season to an end for Velazquez, who’ll likely be transferred to the 60-day IL the next time the Angels need a 40-man roster spot.
Claimed off waivers out of the Yankees organization last November, Velazquez received a career-high 349 plate appearances with the 2022 Angels — nearly double his career total of plate appearances in parts of four seasons prior to the current campaign. He posted a dismal .196/.236/.304 batting line in that time — roughly 51% worst than league average, by measure of wRC+.
As one would expect for a player who struggled so considerably at the plate, Velazquez’s glovework graded out quite well. He posted a whopping 13 Defensive Runs Saved at shortstop, and while Statcast wasn’t as bullish, he still notched positive marks in Outs Above Average (5) and Runs Above Average (3). Strong as the defense may be, however, the overreliance on Velazquez speaks to the general lack of depth in the Angels organization; he split time at the position with the since-traded Tyler Wade and fellow infielders David Fletcher and Luis Rengifo. Both Fletcher and Rengifo are best suited for other infield positions, and Fletcher missed substantial time on the injured list this season.
As for Velazquez’s future with the club, it’s possible that between this year’s struggles and this new injury, that he could be removed from the 40-man roster following the season. If he remains on the 40-man roster he’ll be right on the cusp of Super Two status this winter, finishing out the season at two years and 126 days (2.126) of service time. Over the past three years, the respective Super Two cutoffs have been 2.116, 2.125 and 2.115.
Whether Velazquez returns or not, addressing the organizational depth at shortstop figures to be on the offseason to-do list for the Angels. They’ll stand out as a feasible landing spot for an impactful option at the position, depending of course on a potential new owner’s willingness to spend, but even in the absence of a major acquisition, the Halos should be in the market for at least a modest short-term upgrade.