Pennington inks 2-year contract with Angels

Pennington inks 2-year contract with Angels

ANAHEIM -- The Angels signed free agent Cliff Pennington to a two-year, $3.75 million contract on Tuesday, addressing their need for a veteran utility infielder.

Pennington will make $1.5 million in 2016 and $2.25 million in '17, and he can earn an additional $750,000 each season based on plate appearances. The 31-year-old switch-hitter is expected to bolster the bench and give the Angels their most productive backup infielder since Maicer Izturis filled the role in 2012.

Pennington's presence allows Taylor Featherston -- a Rule 5 Draft pick last December who enters 2016 with three option years -- to get some seasoning in Triple-A next season.

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"We are thrilled to add Cliff to the roster," Angels general manager Billy Eppler said in a club-issued statement. "His defensive versatility, along with a veteran presence in the clubhouse, will be a welcomed addition."

Pennington is an above-average defensive middle infielder who can also fill in at third base. A first-round pick by the A's in 2005, Pennington was the everyday shortstop in Oakland from 2010-11 and transitioned into more of a utility role thereafter. He spent the 2013-14 seasons with the D-backs, then was dealt to the eventual American League East champion Blue Jays early this past August.

Pennington finished the 2015 season with a .210/.298/.281 slash line in 105 games and is a career .245/.313/.344 hitter.

With Toronto, Pennington also spent some time in left field and even made an emergency relief appearance in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, becoming the first full-time position player to pitch in a postseason game.

Statcast: Pennington on the hill

The Angels employed the light-hitting, slick-fielding John McDonald as their utility infielder in his age-39 and final season in 2014. Featherston then spent the entire 2015 season on the roster despite having not played above Double-A heading into the campaign. The 26-year-old showed plenty of defensive ability and solid speed, but he also made a handful of key errors and often looked overmatched at the plate, batting .162/.212/.247 in 169 plate appearances.

Now Featherston figures to head to the Minors and become the primary backup to new shortstop Andrelton Simmons on the organizational depth chart.

The Angels will still try to upgrade at second and third base. But at the very least, Pennington can get some at-bats at both positions and be an option as a late-game defensive replacement. The Angels currently have Johnny Giavotella as their starting second baseman and a pair of rookies, Kyle Kubitza and Kaleb Cowart, as options for third base.

Eppler, a lifelong San Diego Chargers fan, compared Pennington to "a very valuable third-down back, like Darren Sproles. He's a guy you can do a lot of things with."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.