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Catcher Briceño returns to Rox organization

@harding_at_mlb
November 13, 2020

DENVER -- Continuing an effort to create competition in Spring Training, the Rockies have signed former Angels catcher José Briceño to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Major League camp. Briceño, 28, appeared in 48 games total for the Angels in 2018 (46) and ’20 (2) and batted

DENVER -- Continuing an effort to create competition in Spring Training, the Rockies have signed former Angels catcher José Briceño to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Major League camp.

Briceño, 28, appeared in 48 games total for the Angels in 2018 (46) and ’20 (2) and batted .238 with five home runs and 10 RBIs. Known for a strong arm, Briceño has thrown out eight of 19 on stolen-base attempts.

The Rockies have not officially announced the signing.

The Rockies are familiar with Briceño. They signed him as an amateur free agent out of Venezuela in July 2009, and they traded him and catcher Chris O’Dowd to the Braves for right-handed pitchers David Hale and Gus Schlosser in January 2015. Briceño was part of the deal that sent shortstop Andrelton Simmons to the Angels after the ’15 season.

The Rockies are known to be looking to improve their catching. The current roster has Tony Wolters and Elias Díaz, both of whom are eligible for salary arbitration, and Dom Nuñez, who debuted in 2019 and spent the ’20 season at the alternate training site.

Briceño is the third signing this week of players who either have Major League experience or are at an age and experience level where they’re considered big league candidates.

Righty Dereck Rodríguez, who had a solid debut with the Giants in 2018 but saw a drop-off in command the last two years, will compete for a rotation spot. After developing starters who have had strong seasons by attacking the strike one, the Rockies believe they can take advantage of Rodriguez’s aggressive mindset.

Lefty Brian Gonzalez, who reached Double-A for the Orioles in 2019 and spent this year at the alternate training site, could compete as a starter or reliever.

Gonzalez has started 106 of 130 Minor League games over six seasons and is 31-35 with a 4.10 ERA, 478 strikeouts and 252 walks in 578 innings. If not a starter, he could use the pitch mix he developed as a starter to help a bullpen that finished 2020 without a lefty.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page.