The Los Angeles Angels are gearing up for the 2021 MLB season after a severely disappointing 60-game outing in 2020. While the Angels did not add any standout pitchers, they have a solid group that should provide some breathing room for what could be one of the league’s best offenses.
The Angels made several moves to bolster that side of the ball, including trading for utility infielder Franklin Barreto. Entering his age 25 season, Barreto has not spent much time in the Major Leagues. However, he was expected to be the team’s sixth infielder option after Albert Pujols, Jared Walsh, David Fletcher, Jose Iglesias, and Anthony Rendon.
This was before he was ruled out for 4-6 weeks with elbow inflammation, taking his rehab into mid-April and potentially even early May, according to Jack Harris of The L.A. Times:
— Jack Harris (@Jack_A_Harris) March 22, 2021
This is undoubtedly a disappointing outcome for Barreto, as he will start the season on the Injured List. He was in a fierce battle with Luis Rengifo for the final spot in the infield, but appeared to be slightly ahead of the third-year prospect.
Now, it’s almost a guarantee that Rengifo will get a full month as the primary utility player. If he struggles, then Barreto will slide right back onto the roster when he’s healthy and ready to go. However, decisions will have to be made if Rengifo plays well.
Both are entering their age 25 season with a similar amount of time at the big league level, meaning it truly will be about performance and no other factors. Rengifo playing well could mean Barreto is sent to the Minors or sent to another team via trade.
Obviously, the Angels will have 162 games to figure this situation out. However, it is a massive letdown for Barreto, who now has no control over his fate with the team for at least the next month.
Felix Pena to begin season on IL
Barreto is not the only player fighting for a roster spot who will now spend the beginning of the season out of commission. Angels reliever Felix Pena, who was also nearly a lock to make the bullpen, will be out for a couple weeks with a Grade 1 hamstring strain.
Luckily for Pena, the Angels bullpen is far more up for debate and movement than the infield.