Angels sent. David Fletcher express revocation, Tweets Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. Enfield remains with the organization but loses his spot on the 40-man roster.
It is the result of a major production cut at Fletcher. The Loyola Mary Mount product looked like a major organizational piece a few years ago. Los Angeles signed him to a five-year contract back in April. It was a $26MM guarantee that bought him one free agent year and included club options for two more. In a league average offense, he was hoping to get a good defensive middle linebacker.
Fletcher signed that deal on the heels of a .319/.376/.425 showing in 2020 abbreviated. While that was built on an unsustainable .348 average in the ballgame, he brought his career line to .292/.346/.386 just shy of 1,200 plate appearances. Fletcher never hit for power but showed elite contact skills and played defense in the secondary.
Unfortunately for the Halos, righty swingman Fletcher has seen a significant decline in his offensive production over the past couple of seasons. In the year He posted a .262/.297/.324 line in 665 plate appearances in 2021. The next year was challenging in terms of performance and health. Fletcher suffered a hip stroke early in the season that ultimately sent him to the 60-day injured list. He hit .255/.288/.333 in 61 games. He was a 2-16 starter in the first couple weeks this year.
Fletcher’s communication skills remain elite. His streak has spanned the past two years, though, and he hasn’t fared well on hit balls. Going back to 2021, he carries a .258/.292/.323 line in over 900 trips to the plate. Despite his continued strong output as a cornerstone defenseman, his lackluster offense has led the Angels to look elsewhere this summer. The halos brought Gio Urshela And Brandon Drury To add some offensive punch to the infield. They called the top shortstop prospect Zach Neto On Saturday, they announced at the time that they optioned Fletcher back to Triple-A Salt Lake.
In conjunction with that move, they obviously put Fletcher on parole. No wonder it wasn’t claimed. Any team that added him would have had to pick up his contract. Fletcher is making $6M this season and next. He’ll earn $6.5MM in 2025 and has at least a 1.5MM buyout in the ’27 option. Almost $20m in guaranteed money for any club is unlikely considering Fletcher’s recent struggles.
There’s definitely a certain amount of strategy involved in Halos’ endgame. A player with more than three years of major league service time may decline direct assignment in favor of minor league free agency. However, players with three to five years of service would have to forfeit guaranteed money remaining on their contracts to do so.
Fletcher enters the 2023 campaign with four years and 111 days of big league service. A player earns a full year of service at 172 days, so Fletcher needed 61 days on an MLB roster this year to break that limit. If he were still in the majors by early June, he would have the right to free agency while collecting the remainder of his salary if the Halos wanted to move him off the 40-man roster.
By biding time before then, the Angels will ensure Fletcher remains in the organization. It obviously won’t transfer nearly $20MM in guaranteed money. He accepts the assignment to Salt Lake and tries to get back on the major league radar.
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