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Angels sign veteran catcher Rene Rivera to 1-year, $2.8 million deal

By in Press Enterprise on January 10, 2018

By Jeff Fletcher

The Angels got some help for Martin Maldonado, inking veteran catcher Rene Rivera to a one-year $2.8 million deal on Tuesday night.

Maldonado won a Gold Glove in his first season with the Angels, but the workload of a major-league leading 137 games behind the plate contributed to a deterioration of his offensive game in 2017. He hit .183 in the second half.

Rivera, 34, hit .252 with 10 homers in 74 games with the New York Mets and Chicago Cubs last season. He is a career .220 hitter, though.

Still, if the Angels believe that Rivera could hit and play defense better than Juan Graterol or Carlos Perez, it could allow the Angels to give Maldonado more days off. That could keep Maldonado fresher throughout the season.

Rivera, who has played parts of nine seasons in the majors with six other teams, carries a strong defensive reputation. He has thrown out 36 percent of would-be base-stealers throughout his career. Pitchers have a 3.67 ERA throwing to Rivera in his career.

The addition of Rivera means it’s likely that neither Perez nor Graterol will make the opening day roster. With Perez out of options, he would seem to be a trade candidate. The Angels also have veteran Curt Casali, who they signed to a minor league deal in November, to provide depth at Triple-A.

In order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Rivera, the Angels designated left-hander Nate Smith for assignment. Smith, who had been one of their top pitching prospects, is going to miss the 2018 season after undergoing shoulder surgery.


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