Catcher Chris Snyder, shown with Washington Manager Davey Johnson, was… (Julio Cortez, / Associated…)
TEMPE, Ariz. -- As if Hank Conger wasn’t having enough problems this spring, his four throwing errors causing considerable concern for the Angels, he will now have some serious competition for the backup catching job.
Veteran catcher Chris Snyder was released by the Washington Nationals Monday morning, and he told the Washington Post that he has signed a minor league deal with the Angels. The deal reportedly includes an invitation to the big-league camp.
[Updated at 10:00 a.m.: Angels GM Jerry Dipoto has confirmed that they've agreed to terms on a minor league deal with Snyder.]
The right-handed-hitting Snyder is nowhere near the offensive threat Conger is -- the 32-year-old hit .176 with a .295 on-base percentage, .308 slugging percentage and seven home runs in 258 plate appearances for the Houston Astros last season.
But he is considered solid defensively with a strong arm, having thrown out 141 of 488 base-stealers (29%) over his nine-year big-league career. Snyder has had back problems that required surgery, but he is physically sound this spring.
Conger, a 2006 first-round pick out of Huntington Beach High School, seemed a natural complement to right-handed-hitting starting catcher Chris Iannetta because he is a switch-hitter who is much more dangerous from the left side.
Conger ranks fourth on the team in hitting (.417) this spring, ahead of both Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, and is tied for the team lead with 11 runs batted in.
But he has also made four errant throws to bases and has not caught a base-stealer in six tries, a shaky defensive performance that prompted the Angels to begin looking for outside catching help last week.
Conger, who has spent much of the past three years at triple-A Salt Lake, still has one option remaining, so the Angels can send him to the minor leagues this season without having to pass him through waivers. But the acquisition of Snyder would seem to further cloud Conger’s future with the Angels.