During the MLB lockout, teams are not allowed to negotiate contracts with Major League free agents. However, the rules of a lockout don’t apply to Minor Leaguers, meaning teams and players can still negotiate and sign Minor League contracts. That’s exactly what happened for utility outfielder Dillon Thomas.
Thomas, 29, was drafted in the fourth round of the 2011 amateur draft and spent 10 years working through the Minor League levels. Finally, in 2021, he was called up the Majors by the Seattle Mariners, where he spent just four games and took just nine total plate appearances.
Now, the Angels are giving him a shot to work his way back to MLB, as he is signing a Minor League contract with Anaheim, according to Robert Murray of FanSided:
Source: Angels signing outfielder Dillon Thomas to minor-league deal with invite to spring training. Thomas, 29, can play all three outfield positions and has posted consistently high exit velocities in the minors. He made his MLB debut this season with the Mariners.
— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) December 14, 2021
In Thomas’ nine plate appearances at the MLB level, it wasn’t too pretty. He struck out seven times, recording just one hit for two RBIs. However, his Minor League numbers show that there may be something there.
At Triple-A Tacoma in 2021, Thomas batted .269 with an .825 OPS. He struck out nearly 30% of the time, but a .377 on-base percentage shows he could still find his way. He’s also a versatile outfielder, capable of playing all three positions.
It’s very unlikely the Angels need him at the Major League level in 2022. They already have Mike Trout, Brandon Marsh, Jo Adell, Justin Upton, and potentially more ahead of him on the depth chart. However, part of a successful organization is having depth at every level.
Perhaps Thomas can improve on what he learned in his short time with the Mariners and step up once with Triple-A Salt Lake.
Angels ranked fourth-most improved
ESPN ran a significant number of World Series simulations for 2022 before and after the free agent frenzy before the lockout to find out which teams improved their odds the most. The Angels, after adding four pitchers and some fielding depth, were ranked the fourth-most improved team by that metric.