March 16: To make room for Suzuki on the 40-man roster, Chris Rodriguez was placed on the 60-day IL, per Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. The move is just a formality, since it was reported back in November that Rodriguez underwent surgery that would keep him out of action for the majority of the 2022 season.
It was January of last year that the Angels signed Suzuki for the first time, giving him a one-year contract worth $1.5MM. At the time, Suzuki was coming off an excellent four-year stretch from 2017 to 2020. He had a wRC+ above 100 in each of those four campaigns and secured himself a World Series ring with the Nationals in 2019.
Unfortunately, 2021 was a disappointing season for Suzuki, as he slumped to a line of .224/.294/.342, for a wRC+ of 76, relinquishing the starting duties to Max Stassi as the season wore on. Regardless, the Angels were evidently satisfied enough with the Suzuki-Stassi pairing to give it one more shot. Stassi will reach free agency at the end of this year.
It seems likely that Suzuki will serve in a backup capacity, given that he’s 38 years old and Stassi is about to turn 31. The latter also had an excellent campaign last year, hitting at an above-average rate and providing excellent defense for a 2.9 fWAR season.
It might seem a bit eyebrow-raising to for the club to be spending money on a 38-year-old catcher who’s coming off a down year. However, it’s worth pointing out that this year’s free agent catching market was exceptionally thin, with Yan Gomes and Manny Pina representing the top of the class. Those two signed before the lockout, leaving Suzuki as one of the few healthy catchers with a track record of success, even if he didn’t show it in 2021. The only other catcher on the club’s 40-man roster, Matt Thaiss, has only 64 games of MLB experience. Given that he has options, the acquisition of Suzuki will allow the 26-year-old to function as a depth option in Triple-A.