The Los Angeles Angels made the difficult decision to option infielder David Fletcher to Triple-A this week, removing him from the team’s 40-man roster. The 28-year-old cleared waivers, freeing him up to hopefully regain some form with the Salt Lake Bees.
In the middle of a five-year $26 million contract, Fletcher has underperformed both with his bat and has ultimately struggled to pick up where he left off during the 2020 season. His 120 OPS+ during the 60-game shortened season was the highlight of his offensive output, posting a career-high .801 on-base plus slugging in 49 games.
Fletcher followed that up with a sub-par 2021 and missed over 100 games after requiring hip surgery. General manager Perry Minasian attacked the veteran depth behind him with offseason moves and in conjunction with Angels manager Phil Nevin, they feel this was the best move for his future, via Jeff Fletcher of the O.C. Register:
“Playing once a week or whatever he was getting here is not suitable for his game to get where he needs to be, and where he was as a player,” Nevin said, conceding that he was the one who had made the decision to limit Fletcher’s playing time. “It was a hard conversation. He’s been a great Angel for a long time. We consider him still a part of this group. But he’s gonna go down and get a chance to play and get back to where he was. And I certainly think he will.”
Fletcher is one of four members of the Angels 2015 Draft class to see big league time, and of the bunch he has been their most successful pick. Unfortunately, his glove wasn’t enough to keep his underperforming bat in the lineup:
Fletcher was less than two months away from reaching five years of service time. At that point, the Angels could no longer have optioned him.
“It was a hard conversation,” Nevin said, “but he took it well and he’s ready to go down and work.”
Calling up top shortstop prospect Zach Neto over the weekend meant the Angels needed his upside and his offense injected into the lineup. Fletcher’s elite bat-to-ball skills weren’t enough to maintain his slot and after starting the season batting .125 in 16 at-bats, they halted it before things got too deep for the veteran infielder.
What’s next for David Fletcher
Now that he’s cleared waivers and is with the Bees, Fletcher will have the opportunity to get regular at-bats in Triple-A. As Nevin explained, the Angels’ need for a higher-upside offensive piece wouldn’t provide him with enough of a landing strip to work through his issues playing a few times a week.
Fletcher won’t be pressed to perform in Triple-A, as they’ll have enough depth at the Major League level, barring injury.
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