Angels get White, Thomas in trade with Braves

Fletcher, Stassi dealt to Atlanta

December 9th, 2023

ANAHEIM -- On a day that had baseball fans anxiously waiting for news to drop on two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani’s destination in free agency, the Angels made a trade with the Braves on Friday, acquiring first baseman and reliever Tyler Thomas in exchange for veteran catcher and infielder .

Angels get: 1B Evan White, LHP Tyler Thomas
Braves get: C Max Stassi, IF David Fletcher

The Angels' 40-man roster is currently at 39, and they remain interested in bringing back Ohtani, whose whereabouts were tracked all day only for him to be home in Southern California and not flying to Toronto as some had speculated.

White and Thomas were both recently acquired by the Braves, as Atlanta received White in a trade with the Mariners on Sunday and Thomas was selected from the Mets in the Minor League portion of Wednesday’s Rule 5 Draft. White, a former top prospect with Seattle, gives the Angels some depth at first base behind Nolan Schanuel, while Thomas will compete for a spot in the bullpen.

The Angels traded away two fan favorites in Stassi and Fletcher in order to shed their contracts and get younger.

Stassi, who missed last season because of a hip injury and a family emergency, is due $7 million in 2024 with a $7.5 million option for '25 that contains a $500,000 buyout. And Fletcher, who played in just 33 games in the Majors in '23 and was outrighted off the 40-man roster twice this year, is owed $6 million in '24 and $6.5 million in '25. He also has club options for '26 and '27 worth $8 million and $8.5 million, respectively, and each has a $1.5 million buyout.

But despite having played just 84 career games in the Majors from 2020-21, White is owed $7 million in 2024 and $8 million in '25 because he signed a six-year, $24 million contract with Seattle before he reached the big leagues. He also has club options for 2026 ($10 million with a $2 million buyout), '27 ($11 million, $1 million buyout) and '28 ($12.5 million, $1 million buyout).

White, 27, was a first-round pick in 2017. He was one of the game’s top prospects heading into his rookie season in '20 that saw him win the Gold Glove Award at first base. But he’s hit just .165/.235/.308 with 10 homers, 10 doubles and 35 RBIs in the Majors. He played in just two games at Triple-A last year, as he suffered a groin strain and underwent surgery to repair his left hip. But the Angels are hopeful that he could respond well to better health and a change of scenery, much as former top prospect Mickey Moniak has done.

Thomas, 27, has yet to reach the Majors and had a 0.79 ERA in 22 2/3 innings with Double-A Binghamton before he posted a 6.75 ERA in 12 innings with Triple-A Syracuse. He struck out 41 batters last year in the Minors and also posted a 3.72 ERA with 13 strikeouts in 9 2/3 innings in the Arizona Fall League. Because he wasn’t taken in the MLB portion of the Rule 5 Draft, he can be optioned to the Minors.

Stassi had been with the Angels since he was acquired from the Astros at the 2019 Trade Deadline and was regarded as a strong defensive catcher. He had his best year in '21, when he hit .241 with 13 homers and 35 RBIs in 87 games, but he batted .180 with nine homers and 30 RBIs in 102 games in '22. The 32-year-old was expected to be the club’s regular catcher last year, but his injury and family situation forced the Angels to mostly use a combination of Matt Thaiss, Logan O’Hoppe and Chad Wallach. They could look to add another veteran to that mix this offseason.

Fletcher, 29, was one of the club’s longest-tenured players, as he had been with the Angels since 2018. His contact skills and defensive prowess made him easy for fans to root for, but his production dropped off in recent years, and he also dealt with abdominal surgery in '22. He hit just .247 with two homers and 12 RBIs last year and didn’t figure to be a factor for the club in '24.