Angels sign backup catcher Rene Rivera

The Angels signed Rene Rivera to a one-year, $2.8-million contract on Monday, adding a defensively savvy veteran to back up Martin Maldonado as catcher.

Rivera, 34, has played nine seasons in the major leagues, never getting 300 at-bats in a season. He batted .252 with 10 home runs in 74 games last season, split between the Chicago Cubs and New York Mets, but Fangraphs ranked him as more valuable defensively than Gold Glove finalists Buster Posey and Salvador Perez.

To make room for Rivera on the 40-man roster, the Angels designated pitcher Nate Smith for assignment. Smith, 26, was ranked the Angels’ top left-handed prospect by Baseball America at the start of last season, but he underwent shoulder surgery last September and is expected to miss the 2018 season.

Rivera has thrown out 36.4% of opposing runners, trailing only fellow Puerto Rican Yadier Molina among active catchers with at least 3,000 innings. Rivera has a .220 career batting average and .620 career on-base-plus-slugging percentage.

The Seattle Mariners selected Rivera in the second round of the 2001 draft, as compensation for losing shortstop Alex Rodriguez to the Texas Rangers in free agency.

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

Follow Bill Shaikin on Twitter @BillShaikin

Copyright © 2018, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
47°