The Los Angeles Angels acquired infielder Gordon Beckham from the Chicago White Sox on Thursday afternoon.
While it’s not starting pitching, general manager Jerry DiPoto says it’s a key move nonetheless.
Beckham, 27, was claimed off waivers by the Angels in exchange for cash or a player to be named later. In 101 games this season as a platoon hitter, Beckham has hit .221 with a .263 on-base percentage. He came into the league as a third baseman, but he’ also played second and shortstop. It’s his versatility and his ability to hit against left-handed pitching that DiPoto says will help the Halos the most down the stretch.
"He’s not having a great year with the bat but he’s really wearing out left-handed hitters," DiPoto said Thursday from the Fenway Park dugout. "I feel like it’s a real platoon advantage for us. We’ll be playing, I think, 37 of the next 39 days and it gives us an opportunity for us to give Howie (Kendrick) a day, give David Freese a day and potentially give Erick Aybar a day. It also gives us a right-hander to use in the DH role against left-handed pitching."
Beckham was drafted in 2008 out of the University of Georgia and debuted for the White Sox less than one year later. Once a star on the rise, Beckham has struggled with the bat since his breakout rookie season. Last year, he hit .267 in 103 games but still spent time down in the minors, as he did this season as well.
"Sometimes guys need a change of scenery," DiPoto said. "Gordon’s first year in Chicago, he was fantastic. He played third base primarily and got off to a start that suggested that he would be a major star. He was a top-10 pick in the draft, but after that first year he was moved to second base and has never been as impactful offensively and he’s always had platoon splits."
But the splits were exactly what DiPoto was looking for.
"We don’t need him to take four at-bats a day, seven days a week," DiPoto said. "We just need him to be a part of our complete team and over the course of the week get some good at bats against lefties."
Beckham’s splits are similar to those of current Angels infielder Grant Green, who was earning at-bats as a utility man, playing several positions until going down with a lumbar strain. Green is expected to begin his rehab assignment Friday at triple-A Salt Lake. It’s unclear what they will do with Green, but DiPoto says Beckham figures to be used in more of a DH role.
Should the change of scenery help Beckham over the next month, the depth in the Angels’ lineup could be powerful enough to carry them through October.