- The Yankees announced their minor league signing of outfielder Ryan LaMarre, who has received an invitation to Spring Training. The 33-year-old LaMarre is no stranger to the Bronx, having spent last season in the Yankees organization. A strong 60-game showing (.826 OPS) in Triple-A led to a few big league call-ups, in which LaMarre hit two home runs and stole a base across just nine games. The speedy outfielder can cover all three outfield spots in a pinch and should serve as some nice depth behind New York’s top center field options in Aaron Hicks and the recently re-signed Tim Locastro.
- The Angels have signed infielder Kean Wong to a minor league deal with an invite to MLB Spring Training camp. Primarily a second baseman, Wong has also demonstrated the ability to handle third base and both outfield corners. Despite the cancellation of the 2020 minor league season, the 26-year-old showed no signs of rust in Triple-A last year. In 46 games the left-handed hitter slashed .339/.384/.476 with 10 steals (13 attempts). He didn’t show as much firepower in 66 big league at-bats last season with just a .427 OPS, but there may be time to build on those numbers with a Halos club that has recently found health and production elusive at second and third base.
The Angels have released infielder Kean Wong and sent lefty Hector Yan outright to Triple-A Salt Lake after he cleared waivers, per a team announcement. Both were designated for assignment within the past week.
Wong, the younger brother of Brewers second baseman Kolten Wong, was a fourth-round pick by the Rays back in 2013 but has yet to find his footing in the big leagues. The 26-year-old has seen MLB times both with Tampa Bay and the Halos but managed only a .167/.188/.218 output in an admittedly small sample of 84 plate appearances. He’s had more success in Triple-A, where he’s a career .293/.355/.421 hitter in more than 1600 Triple-A plate appearances. Wong also still has a pair of minor league option years remaining.
Yan, 22, spent the 2021 season with the Angels’ Class-A Advanced affiliate and pitched 82 1/3 innings with an unsightly 5.25 ERA with a 24.7% strikeout rate and a 15.2% walk rate. Yan ranked eight among Angels farmhands at Baseball America in the 2020-21 offseason, drawing praise for his deceptive delivery, a fastball that can reach 98 mph and a trio of offspeed pitches that need refinement but all have the potential to be average or better. After going unclaimed on waivers, he can head to the minors to continue working on improving his command and/or improving his secondary pitches.
The Yankees announced Monday that they’ve traded infielder/outfielder Tyler Wade to the Angels in exchange for cash or a player to be named later. Wade was designated for assignment Friday amid a series of moves as the Yankees set their roster in advance of the Rule 5 protection deadline. The Angels announced that they have designated utilityman Kean Wong for assignment in a corresponding move.
Wade, 27 tomorrow, has spent parts of the past five seasons on the Yankees’ bench, serving as an oft-used utility option while being frequently shuttled between the big leagues and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Last year’s 145 plate appearances were a career-high (though they were spread across 103 games), and Wade’s .268/.354/.323 slash during that small sample was the most productive of MLB stretch of his career. In all, he’s a .212/.298/.307 hitter in 491 plate appearances for the Yankees.
Of course, Wade was always more of a defensive option than a player expected to make meaningful contributions with the bat. During his half-decade run with the Yankees, he saw time at every position other than first base, catcher and pitcher. The bulk of that workload came at second base (546 innings) and shortstop (331 innings), but Wade has 33 appearances at the hot corner and 57 in the outfield.
Wong, the younger brother of Brewers second baseman Kolten Wong, was a fourth-round pick by the Rays back in 2013 but has yet to find his footing in the big leagues. The 26-year-old has seen MLB times both with Tampa Bay and the Halos but managed only a .167/.188/.218 output in an admittedly small sample of 84 plate appearances. The younger Wong is a career .293/.355/.421 hitter in more than 1600 Triple-A plate appearances, however, and he also still has a pair of minor league option years remaining.
Another club in need of some infield depth could conceivably take a chance on Wong, who’ll either be traded, placed on outright waivers or released in the next seven days. Even if Wong goes unclaimed on waivers and is outrighted to Triple-A Salt Lake, he’ll have the opportunity to reject that assignment and become a free agent, given that it would be the second time in his career that he’s been outrighted.
This will be the second stint on the injured list for Upton this year, after missing almost a month with a low back strain earlier in the season. He’s only played in three games over the past couple weeks, perhaps because of this injury, but also because the Angels are out of contention and have been increasingly using playing time to audition youngsters such as Brandon Marsh and Jo Adell.
Upton still has one season remaining on the five-year deal he signed with the club back in November of 2017. The 34-year-old will be making $28MM next year. The first year of the deal went well, as Upton slashed .257/.344/.463, for a wRC+ of 121 in 2018. But the three subsequent seasons have all been disappointing, with a collective slash line of .211/.296/.409 and a wRC+ of 93.
Because of the remaining playing time going to those younger players, the club can let Upton focus on getting healthy and hopefully finding some of his former, more-productive form in the last year of his deal.
The Angels made a number of roster moves before Friday night’s ballgame, including the selection of Cooper Criswell, who started the game for his Major League debut. Kean Wong was optioned to Triple-A to make room on the roster, per the team.
In addition, Packy Naughton was recalled from Triple-A, and James Hoyt was optioned to Triple-A. Naughton made his Major League debut earlier this season, tossing one inning against the Dodgers back on May 8th. He allowed one run on a hit and a walk. Naughton’s long-term future may still be in the rotation, even if the Angels use him out of the bullpen again.
The well-traveled Hoyt has made it into nine games the Halos, serving up 11 hits, seven walks, and 11 runs (10 earned) over just eight innings. Wong, 26, slashed .171/.190/.268 in 45 plate appearances.
The Angels placed outfielder Justin Upton on the 10-day injured list today, per Jeff Fletcher of the Southern California News Group (via Twitter). Upton’s been suffering from a sore back. To claim Upton’s roster spot, Kean Wong was recalled from Triple-A.
The Angels felt the sting of Upton’s absence today via some defensive miscues in the outfield as some players were forced to play out of position, notes Fletcher. Upton isn’t necessarily renowned as a defensive maven in left field, but he at least has plenty of experience playing the position. Taylor Ward was tasked with manning left field today, and in a classic Maddonian bit of maneuvering, starting pitcher Griffin Canning took on the defensive challenge late in Wednesday’s contest.
Beyond the defensive question, Upton’s bat will certainly be missed — he’s been on fire in June. Upton has a 199 wRC+ with a .338/.463/.531 slash line in 80 plate appearances this month. The hot streak has largely coincided with Upton taking over the leadoff spot in manager Joe Maddon’s lineup. Luis Rengifo has been given a few opportunities in that spot since Upton went down, while Shohei Ohtani took on the challenge in tonight’s game.
It doesn’t help that the Angels are already without outfielders Mike Trout and Dexter Fowler. In Trout’s case, there’s still no timetable for this return, per Fletcher. He has yet to resume any kind of baseball activities, suggesting the Angels will need to find a way to forge ahead without him for the time being.
Wong, 26, has hit .184/.205/.289 in 42 plate appearances with the Angels this season. He’s been significantly better in Triple-A, where he owns a .350/.388/.525 line in 85 trips to the plate.
Wong was in today’s starting lineup, marking his first appearance in an MLB game since the 2019 season. Wong made his Major League debut that season, appearing in seven total games with the Rays and (after a late-season waiver claim) Angels. The Giants then claimed Wong off waivers in November 2019, before he returned to Anaheim on a minor league contract this past winter.
A veteran of nine minor league seasons, Wong will add some depth to an Angels infield that lost Jose Iglesias and Franklin Barreto to the injured list. Wong has spent much of his career as a second and third baseman, but has also gotten playing time as a left fielder and seen a handful of games as a shortstop and corner outfielder. With Iglesias out and David Fletcher taking over shortstop duties, Wong and Phil Gosselin are likely to combine for an interim second base platoon. (Wong started at second base for the Halos today.)
Butera was acquired in a minor trade with the Rangers earlier this month, when the Angels were hurting for catching depth due to injuries. With Max Stassi now on a Triple-A rehab assignment following a concussion, the Halos seem content with Stassi, Kurt Suzuki and Anthony Bemboom as their catching mix, leaving Butera expendable.
If this is it for Butera with the Angels, his 12 games will at least exceed his previous stint with the team — 10 games during the 2015 season. The well-traveled veteran is in his 12th Major League season, and now may be looking to join his ninth different organization.
The latest minor moves from around baseball…
- The Red Sox have inked right-handed reliever Kevin McCarthy to a minor league contract, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports. McCarthy will earn an $825K salary if he makes the majors in 2021. The 28-year-old appeared in the bigs with the Royals in each season from 2016-20, and despite a meager 5.63 K/9, he recorded a 3.80 ERA/4.11 FIP in 191 2/3 innings. McCarthy has three seasons of between 45 and 70 innings under his belt, but after a 2020 in which he threw a mere six frames, the Royals outrighted him.
- The Angels have signed infielder Kean Wong and righty Jake Reed to minors contracts with invitations to MLB camp, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets. A fourth-round pick of Tampa Bay in 2013, Wong’s only major league experience came when he went 3-for-18 with the Rays and Angels in 2019. Wong does, however, own a respectable .286/.350/.413 line in 1,425 Triple-A plate appearances. The 25-year-old is the younger brother of free-agent second baseman Kolten Wong, whom the Angels have shown interest in this offseason. Reed entered the pro ranks as a Twins fifth-rounder in 2014, but he hasn’t gotten to the majors yet. The 28-year-old appeared at the Triple-A level from 2016-19, during which he logged a 3.68 ERA with 9.6 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9 over 164 innings.
Wong was not in the Giants’ 60-man player pool, which means he’s technically still eligible to be added to the pool and selected to the big league roster this season. Siri, who was in the player pool, remains in the organization but cannot be added back to the pool — at least not with the Giants. Siri is still eligible to be traded elsewhere by virtue of beginning the season on a 40-man roster/Major League contract; that’s the same rule that allowed the Orioles to trade Hector Velazquez to the Astros yesterday even though he’d previously been removed from Baltimore’s player pool (also via outright).
Wong, the younger brother of Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong, was the Rays’ fourth-round pick back in the 2013 draft and made his MLB debut as a September call-up with Tampa Bay last year. He barely saw any big league time (seven games) but enjoyed a second consecutive quality season at the plate, hitting .307/.375/.464 slash with 10 homers, 29 doubles, six triples and six steals. Offense was elevated throughout the league in Triple-A, but Wong’s output checked in at 16 percent better than league average, as measured by wRC+. Primarily been a second baseman in his minor league career, Wong has also seen time at third base and in the outfield.
Siri, 24, spent the 2013-19 seasons in the Reds organization after signing as an amateur out of the Dominican Republic. At one point he was considered one of the Reds’ best prospects, but the shine has worn off him in recent years. Siri raked at a .293/.340/.531 clip with 24 homers and 46 stolen bases as a 21-year-old in Class-A back in 2017, but in the two seasons since that time he’s posted a disappointing .238/.297/.397 slash between Double-A and Triple-A.
The Giants have announced their Opening Day roster, which includes several players who’ll need to be added to the 40-man. Reliever Rico Garcia and first baseman Darin Ruf will join catchers Rob Brantly and Tyler Heineman on the 30-man active unit.
Garcia will enter his first season with the Giants, who claimed him off waivers from the division-rival Rockies last November. He entered the pro ranks as a 30th-round pick of the Rockies in 2016 and has generally posted good results in the minors, though he struggled during his Triple-A and major league debuts last season. The 26-year-old put up a woeful 6.90 ERA/6.47 FIP with 7.48 K/9 and 4.11 BB/9 in 61 1/3 innings at the minors’ top level. In six frames with the Rockies, he allowed seven earned runs on nine hits and five walks (with two strikeouts).
Ruf, meanwhile, joined the Giants in July on a minors pact after thriving in the Korea Baseball Organization from 2017-19. Ruf does have previous MLB experience as a member of the Phillies, with whom he batted .240/.314/.433 in 833 plate appearances from 2012-16. The 33-year-old will now get a chance to pick up at-bats in San Francisco, whose starting first baseman, Brandon Belt, will open the season on the injured list because of a heel issue.
The 31-year-old Brantly, another minor league pickup, has never hit much in MLB stints with the Marlins, White Sox and Phillies, but he’ll could get quite a bit of playing time at catcher for the Buster Posey-less Giants. The same goes for Heineman, whose first 12 major league PA came last season as a member of the Marlins. The former eighth-rounder (Astros, 2012) was excellent in Triple-A last year, when he slashed .341/.397/.622 with 10 homers in 182 PA.
Siri and Wong were both waiver claims in recent months, and they’re now in limbo once again. Siri’s a former Reds farmhand who owns a .264/.313/.447 line with 68 homers and 155 steals in 2,438 minor league PA. Wong combined for 18 trips to the plate with the Angels and Rays last year, but the vast majority of the 2013 fourth-rounder’s experience has come in the minors. He has amassed 1,425 PA in Triple-A and batted .286/.350/.413.