The Angels are signing infielder Jake Lamb to a minor league contract, reports Jon Heyman of the New York Post (Twitter link). Lamb’s deal would come with a $1.25MM base salary if he cracks the major league roster, reports Sam Blum of the Athletic (on Twitter). Blum adds that Lamb would be able to opt out of the deal if he’s not in the majors by July 1.
Lamb is hoping to reach the MLB level for a tenth straight year in 2023. The left-handed hitter was an everyday third baseman with the Diamondbacks for a few seasons, combining for 59 home runs between 2016-17. Things went downhill after he sustained a shoulder injury that required surgery, however, and he’s worked more as a journeyman in recent years.
Over the past three seasons, Lamb has appeared at the major league level with six different clubs (Arizona, Oakland, White Sox, Toronto, Dodgers and Seattle). He split the 2022 campaign between Los Angeles and Seattle, going to the Mariners in a deadline trade. Lamb combined for a .216/.315/.392 line in 111 MLB plate appearances between the two clubs. He struck out in a massive 34.2% of plate appearances but walked at a quality 9.9% clip while picking up three homers and six doubles.
Lamb had started well in Los Angeles but tailed off upon landing in the Pacific Northwest, and the Mariners designated him for assignment in September. He cleared waivers, reached minor league free agency and finished the season unsigned. Now 32, he’ll look to get back to the highest level as a lefty bench bat in Orange County. Lamb broke into the majors as a third baseman but has seen increasing action at first base and in the corner outfield in recent years. He’s a bat-first depth option, one who had an impressive .290/.395/.537 showing in 61 Triple-A games in the Dodgers organization this year.
The Halos also recently inked left-hander Jhonathan Diaz to a minor league contract, according to Chris Hilburn-Trenkle of Baseball America. The 26-year-old returns to the organization where he’s spent the past two years. Signed to a non-roster deal over the 2020-21 offseason, Diaz made the majors late in the ’21 campaign. He pitched three times for the Halos that year and logged four more appearances this past season. At year’s end, the Angels opted not to tender him a contract. That sent him directly to free agency without first exposing him to waivers, and the Halos quickly circled back to ink him to a new minor league pact that didn’t require a 40-man spot.
Diaz has a 3.49 ERA in 28 1/3 MLB innings to date. He’s started five of seven outings, inducing grounders at a solid 47.1% clip but not managing impressive strikeout or walk rates. Diaz has only fanned 16% of opponents while averaging 91.4 MPH on his fastball. He’d succeeded more on the strength of his control in the minors, though he’s walked 13.6% of MLB batters faced. He’ll presumably return to Salt Lake, where he has a 4.76 ERA over the last two years, as rotation depth.