PHOENIX -- The Angels, looking to potentially upgrade their depth behind the plate, are in search of a veteran backup catcher, an industry source confirmed to MLB.com on Saturday. Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com first reported the Angels' interest.
Hank Conger, 25, came into camp as the clear-cut favorite to back up Chris Iannetta and has hit well, batting .417 with two homers and 11 RBIs. But his throwing woes -- he made three errant throws on Saturday, upping his spring total to at least five -- have prompted the Angels to look outside the organization in hopes of adding coverage.
With rosters being pared down, the Angels will look to the waiver wire to try to add a steady, inexpensive, veteran presence behind the plate, and they have an open spot on the 40-man roster. But the Phillies, Pirates and Rays are also looking for catching help, according to MLB.com's Peter Gammons.
Ramon Hernandez is an interesting candidate. He's owed $3.2 million in 2013, but the Rockies want to move him and may be willing to eat some of that salary in exchange for pitching help. Rod Barajas and Wil Nieves are both competing to be Miguel Montero's backup in Arizona, and the one who loses out could be made available. The same is happening at Royals camp, with Brett Hayes and George Kottaras both out of options and fighting for the backup spot behind Salvador Perez.
And, of course, a host of others could pop up on the waiver wire within the next couple of weeks.
The Angels still believe in Conger, a very solid hitter who has improved on his footwork and receiving skills. So in the event of an acquisition, they're likely to option him to Triple-A so he can find the consistent release point that has eluded him. This is Conger's last option year.
John Hester (on the 40-man) and Luke Carlin (a non-roster invitee) are the other two catchers technically vying for the backup job, but both have been inconsistent in the Majors throughout their careers.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less