The 2021 MLB season is already underway but the Angels have made a significant move before their first game tonight.
According to multiple reports (first by Jon Heyman), the Angels and David Fletcher have agreed to a long-term deal that will keep Fletcher around through at least the next five years and pay him a minimum of $26 million.
We don’t have any more details at the moment but this is a significant move for both parties. For the Angels, they have long-term security for their homegrown up-the-middle defender who will almost certainly provide surplus value in this deal. For Fletcher, he has financial security and the chance to stick around Anaheim in the long-term, no small feat for someone who grew up in Orange County. While I think the Angels are the pretty clear winners here, this was an obvious move that made sense for both parties.
*Update on Fletcher’s contract per The Athletic’s Fabian Ardaya*
I talked about Fletcher recently in a piece that explored how unique of a player he is. Fletcher is the game’s premier bat-to-ball hitter, a strong defender, and has improved in every possible way in his first three MLB seasons. Since he debuted in June of 2018, he ranks 43rd in Wins Above Replacement among position players, ahead of players such as Jose Altuve, J.D. Martinez, and Tommy Pham. Fletcher is not just a feel-good story at this point; he’s a legitimately good player who is an anomaly in today’s current context.
Fletcher was not slated to hit free agency until after the 2024 season and had not even hit arbitration yet. This deal looks like it’ll at least buy out the remaining years of club control and an additional year of free agency. As of now, the Angels have five players under control through at least next season (Fletcher, Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, Justin Upton, Shohei Ohtani).