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Angels bolster infield depth by adding Andrew Velazquez, Brendon Davis to roster

Andrew Velazquez hits a triple for the New York Yankees against the Minnesota Twins.
The New York Yankees’ Andrew Velazquez hits a triple against the Minnesota Twins on Aug. 19. The Angels claimed Velazquez off waivers Friday.
(Frank Franklin II / Associated Press)

Finding a new starting shortstop remains on the Angels’ offseason to-do list, but they padded their depth at the position Friday with two roster moves.

The team claimed Andrew Velazquez from the New York Yankees and added Brendon Davis to the 40-man roster, giving them two more options in the infield as they head into the winter.

Velazquez, 27, has played parts of four MLB seasons with four organizations. In 96 career games in the majors, he has batted .184 with one home run, nine RBIs and a .525 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.

The trial of former Angels staff member Eric Kay following the death of Tyler Skaggs has been postponed until late January.

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A former seventh-round draft pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Velazquez was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays in 2014, making his big league debut there four years later. In July 2019, he was traded to Cleveland, then claimed off waivers by the Baltimore Orioles the following offseason.

The Yankees signed him as a free agent in January and called him up in August after a strong showing for their triple-A affiliate. In 28 games, he went 15 for 67 with one home run and a .594 OPS. He started at shortstop in the wild-card game against the Boston Red Sox, but was removed for a pinch-hitter after one at-bat.

Davis, 24, is a Lakewood High alum who was drafted by the Dodgers in the fifth round in 2015 before being sent to the Texas Rangers as part of the Yu Darvish deal at the 2017 trade deadline.

The Angels nabbed him in last year’s Rule 5 draft, and watched him flourish in the minor leagues this season, as he progressed from high Class A to triple A while batting .290 with 30 home runs and a .922 OPS overall.

Brendon Davis stretches before of a spring training game between the Texas Rangers and San Diego Padres.
Brendon Davis stretches before of a spring training game between the Texas Rangers and San Diego Padres in March 2018.
(Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press)

He also showed defensive versatility last season, playing third base, left field, second base and shortstop.

“He’s definitely on the radar,” Angels minor league hitting coordinator Damon Mashore said at the end of the minor league season. “He’s put up numbers everywhere he’s been. It definitely allowed us to get a solid player who can move around the field.”

The Angels now have 10 infielders on their 40-man roster. While Jared Walsh and Anthony Rendon will hold down the corner spots at first and third bases, respectively, how the club will fill out the middle-infield positions remains to be seen.

David Fletcher was the everyday second baseman last year, but general manager Perry Minasian said last month the team could explore shifting him to shortstop — where there is an opening after José Iglesias was cut near the end of the regular season.

Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani won Players Choice Awards for MLB player of the year and American League Outstanding Player of the Year.

Jack Mayfield and Luis Renfigo also split time at shortstop down the stretch of the 2021 season, though each had below-average offensive numbers.

There will be plenty of big-name shortstops on the free-agent market, but the Angels will have to decide if they’re better off spending most of their available payroll on pitching.

Friday’s moves didn’t answer any of those questions. They did give the team a couple of extra options on the infield as they look ahead to next season.


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