The Angels have signed infielder Jose Miguel Fernandez to a minor-league contract, as our Chris Cotillo first reported Thursday. Fernandez, 29, was surprisingly released by the Dodgers in November, just 11 months after he joined their organization on a minor-league deal that included a $200,000 signing bonus.
Fernandez fled Cuba in 2015 after playing nine seasons in Serie Nacional, the country’s top professional league. Over 2,646 plate appearances for Cocodrilos de Matanzas, Fernandez hit .319/.402/.419, though he hit just 37 home runs over that span.
After sitting out most of 2015 and all of 2016, Fernandez got back on the field in 2017, playing 90 games with the Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate, the Tulsa Drillers, along with three for the Triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers during a cameo appearance in late June. Over 381 minor-league plate appearances, Fernandez hit .306/.367/.496 while showing greater power than ever before with 16 home runs, though he didn’t play after July 29 due to an injury. He played primarily at second base but also saw action at first base, third base, and in left field.
The reason for the Dodgers’ decision to release Fernandez is unclear, though his age and the season-injury he suffered stand out as possible factors. The Angels’ infield depth is substantially stronger than it was coming into last season now that they’ve signed Zack Cozart and traded for Ian Kinsler, but if Fernandez is able to get back on the field he should be a quality depth option at multiple positions and could be a candidate to make his major-league debut at some point in 2018.