10 players who could grab the Angels' final bench spot

February 28th, 2024

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Angels don’t have too many roster competitions this spring, but the final bench spot is currently up for grabs between several candidates.

If the Angels decide to carry five outfielders -- Mike Trout, Taylor Ward, Mickey Moniak, Aaron Hicks and Jo Adell -- it leaves just one bench spot for the Angels to decide on before Opening Day. They’re already set at backup catcher with Matt Thaiss, while Luis Rengifo is an extra infielder who can play all over the diamond.

The Angels, who lost 3-1 to the Rockies on Wednesday, are likely to value versatility for that final piece, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a player who can handle shortstop because the Angels view Rengifo as a capable backup to Zach Neto. But playing shortstop is a bonus, which is why veteran Ehire Adrianza was predicted to make the club in the latest Opening Day roster projection.

Michael Stefanic is strongly in the mix, but his spot could be determined by his health, as he’s currently dealing with a strained left quad suffered in the first game of the spring on Saturday. But Adrianza and Stefanic aren’t the only ones competing, so here’s a look at 10 candidates for the club’s final bench spot.

After hitting .290/.380/.355 in 25 games and showing improved defense last year, Stefanic came into camp as the slight favorite for the final bench spot. But he’s currently dealing with a left quad strain that complicates things. He played catch and took some swings on Wednesday, but has yet to progress to jogging or running.

Adrianza was signed to a Minor League deal this spring and has looked solid after playing in just five games with the Braves last year before undergoing shoulder surgery. Adrianza can play shortstop, which helps his case, and brings 11 years of big league experience.

Paris is the club’s No. 5 prospect and reached the Majors for the first time last season, hitting .100 in 15 games before undergoing season-ending surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb. The 22-year-old is expected to start the year in the Minors to get more experience, but the Angels view him as close to being ready for the big leagues.

Soto was lost on waivers to the Orioles on Feb. 8 but the Angels reclaimed him on Feb. 18. The 23-year-old can handle shortstop and has hit .375 in 22 games in his two brief stints in the Majors over the past two seasons. He could play his way into a roster spot.

Sanó was signed to a Minor League deal and the former All-Star with the Twins said he’s lost 58 pounds. He’s mostly limited to first base but can play some third and brings power and patience at the plate. Sanó, who hit 34 homers in ’19 and 30 in ’21, could be a designated hitter candidate as well.

Leblanc was brought in on a Minor League deal and played in 48 games with the Marlins in 2022, hitting .263/.320/.404. The Canada native offers some versatility, as he can play first base, second, third and left field.

Dozier, who signed a Minor League deal this offseason, has plenty of big league experience, hitting .238/.305/.420 in 594 games with the Royals from 2016-23. He can play both corner infield spots and both corner outfield spots but isn’t considered a strong defender. He’s off to a solid start offensively in Spring Training and homered Monday.

The Angels are very high on Fontenelle, who is considered a fast-rising prospect after being drafted in the seventh round out of TCU last year. The switch-hitter is a third baseman who can also play first and some outfield. He’s likely to open the year at High-A Tri-City but is on the radar.

Martin has some Major League experience, hitting .212/.261/.311 in 170 games with the Orioles from 2019-22. He was signed to a Minor League deal to give the club some additional depth and can handle both shortstop and second base.

White was acquired in a trade with the Braves that sent David Fletcher and Max Stassi to Atlanta and is regarded as a Gold Glove-quality first baseman. But he's struggled to hit in the Majors, batting .165 in 84 games with the Mariners from 2020-21, and has had multiple hip surgeries. He’s still dealing with some hip soreness and is likely to start the year at Triple-A Salt Lake.