The Angels have agreed to a minor league contract with catcher Meibrys Viloria, according to the transactions log at MLB.com. He’s been assigned to Triple-A Salt Lake. It’s their second non-roster deal of the day, as they also added reliever Reyes Moronta this morning.
It’s a sensible depth addition for Los Angeles. The Halos have been dealt a serious of injuries to their catching core. Rookie Logan O’Hoppe had his blistering start cut short by a labrum tear in his shoulder last month. He’ll miss most or all of the season. Expected backup Max Stassi opened the season on the injured list with a hip strain. Sam Blum of the Athletic wrote yesterday that Stassi has been attending to a family emergency and is without a timetable for his return.
That left the Angels counting on Matt Thaiss as their starter. They selected veteran backstop Chad Wallach from Triple-A but quickly lost him to concussion-like symptoms. The Halos then tabbed Chris Okey — a career .208/.283/.333 Triple-A hitter — as Thaiss’ backup. It’s understandable they’d look to add a player with upper level experience to the organization.
Viloria, 26, has appeared in parts of five major league seasons between the Royals, Rangers and Guardians. He’s functioned in a depth capacity for the majority of that time, tallying 280 cumulative plate appearances. He’s just a .198/.270/.279 hitter against big league pitching, but he’s been quite a bit better in Triple-A. The lefty-swinging backstop owns a .257/.395/.412 line over 430 trips at the top minor league level.
The Guardians carried Viloria on the MLB roster as their third catcher to start the season. He barely played, hitting just four times in roughly a month before being designated for assignment. Upon clearing waivers last week, he elected minor league free agency and quickly finds a new opportunity. The Halos’ injuries figure to give him a good shot at returning to the MLB roster. Viloria is out of minor league options, so if he’s promoted at any point, the Angels will have to keep him in the majors or DFA him themselves.
According to the transaction log, the Angels also optioned veteran first baseman Jake Lamb to Salt Lake. As a player with over five years of major league service, Lamb would ordinarily have the right to decline any minor league assignment in favor of free agency. However, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports (on Twitter) that Lamb had agreed to a 45-day window from the start of season in which the Halos could send him down without exposing him to waivers.
That would have closed this weekend, so the Angels decide to send him down. The lefty-hitting Lamb is hitting only .216/.259/.353 through 54 plate appearances. He’ll remain on the 40-man roster but moves into a depth capacity as the Angels near the return of Jared Walsh. The 2021 All-Star will begin a minor league rehab assignment this weekend as he works back from insomnia that delayed his start to the season.