As the Los Angeles Angels were dealing with several injuries to their outfield, the team added some much-needed depth in the form of Juan Lagares, who returned to the organization on a Minor League contract last May.
Lagares had played a significant role on the Angels during the 2021 season, appearing in 112 games as the club’s fourth outfielder after an eight-year stint with the New York Mets.
The addition of Lagares gave the Angels another right-handed bat in the wake of David Fletcher landing on the 10-day injured list with a left hip strain. Former top prospect Jo Adell had also been sent down to Triple-A Salt Lake after struggling early in the 2022 season.
Lagares, an above-average defender whose skill set can be maximized in a purely matchup-based role, opened the 2022 season with the Bees and batted an impressive .308/.379/.462 with two doubles, one triple and six RBI over seven games.
Lagares’ contract was selected by the Angels before their May 26 matchup against the Toronto Blue Jays, and he was in the starting lineup that night, batting seventh and playing right field.
Unfortunately for the 33-year-old, his fast start with the Angels’ top Minor League affiliate did not translate to the Majors. He went just 11-for-60 with three extra-base hits in 20 games.
Lagares hit an overall .183/.210/.250 with two doubles, one triple and no RBI in 62 plate appearances, drawing just two walks and striking out 15 times. He initially received starts in right field but also saw time in left field and center field.
Lagares was designated for assignment at the end of June, and after clearing waivers, elected free agency. He went on to sign a one-year, $495,000 contract with the SSG Landers of the KBO League and enjoyed a bounce back, batting .315/.362/.464 with nine doubles, six home runs and 32 RBI in 49 games.
Juan Lagares 2022 highlight
Lagares had two multi-hit games with the Angels during the 2022 season, including one against the Blue Jays on May 28 and another against the Boston Red Sox on June 8.
Lagares endured his worst season in the big leagues, both offensively and defensively, and likely will need to settle for a Minor League contract this offseason if he doesn’t continue to play at the international level.
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