The Los Angeles have signed utility infielder Matt Duffy to a one-year, $1.5 million deal, the team announced Wednesday. Duffy, 31, is coming off of a solid season with the Chicago Cubs and looks to provide some versatility for the Halos.
In 2021 with the Cubs, Duffy played in 97 games, primarily as the team’s third baseman. In that time, he batted .287 with a .738 OPS. His 102 wRC+ places him right around league average for his performance last season.
Offensively, Duffy has had some consistency issues, never posting back-to-back seasons with a wRC+ above 100 in his career. However, he makes up for it with strong defense, largely at third base.
With the Cubs, Duffy posted one defensive run saved and a .973 fielding percentage from third base. But he also played some significant time at second base, where he had two defensive runs saved and a .987 fielding percentage.
His numbers from the shortstop position leave something to be desired, which begs the question of why the Angels brought him in.
Well, versatility is a sought after trait in Major League Baseball. The ability to play multiple positions makes Duffy a useful player, and with the Angels’ uncertainty in the middle of their infield, the more options the better.
As it stands, they have Tyler Wade, Andrew Velazquez, Luis Rengifo, David Fletcher, and now Duffy fighting for the two middle infield spots and a third utility spot. Fletcher should already be penciled into one of those spots, but it’s unclear if that spot is shortstop or second base.
He was a Gold Glove finalist in 2021 at second base, but Joe Maddon has hinted several times that he would like to see Fletcher at shortstop. So that leaves Wade, Velazquez, Rengifo, and Duffy to battle during Spring Training for one starting spot and one utility spot.
For Duffy, the most likely scenario would be winning the utility spot, but it remains to be seen with so much competition. Some of these questions look to be answered over the four weeks in Arizona.
Angels next move
The Angels are likely done making big moves and are solely focused on rounding out their roster ahead of Spring Training. While there could always be a big move out there in the next few weeks, L.A. seems to be filling out the margins instead.
If the Angels throw in bids for one of the top shortstops on the market, it could make the signing of Duffy completely irrelevant. But for now, it appears the Halos are not planning to go that route.