Armed with a new contract and two fixed hips, Yuba City High baseball product Max Stassi is ready to report in a few weeks for spring training with the Los Angeles Angels.
Stassi, a 2009 Yuba City graduate, said he is scheduled to report on Feb. 16 with pitchers and catchers.
The 29-year-old signed a new deal last week worth $1.6 million for one year, doubling his previous contract of $800,000 that he signed in January of 2020.
“I am extremely happy with the deal,” Stassi said in a telephone interview with the Appeal Tuesday night. “It’s just the beginning.”
Stassi said since he came to Los Angeles from Houston he was “welcomed” into the organization from day one.
“It was such a great environment to come to work every day,” Stassi said. “It does feel like home.”
Stassi played well last year in an environment that he called very different due to the ongoing public health threat due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As one of a few catchers on the roster, Stassi hit .278 in 31 games played, belted seven home runs and compiled 20 runs batted in. It’s his highest batting average, based on at least 50 at-bats, in his eight year Major League career. Stassi’s power numbers also have improved mightily – only once has he hit more than seven home runs (2018) and 20 RBIs (2018).
Stassi will be competing alongside Kurt Suzuki, who was signed as a free agent last week, behind the plate when the Angels report.
For Stassi, playing with Suzuki is a reunion.
“(He) was there my first spring training in Oakland,” Stassi said. “I am looking forward to working with him again.”
Suzuki has played with a number of teams, including Washington in 2019 when the Nationals won their first World Series title.
Anthony Bemboom is the other active catcher on the Angels roster.
Due to the pandemic there were many changes to the 2020 MLB season. The postseason was expanded, there was the addition of a universal designated hitter and the way extra innings were executed was different last year.
Stassi weighed in on playing baseball in a pandemic in 2020.
He said the universal DH, though it eliminated some strategy from the game, it opened up more jobs across the league and provided more excitement.
As for last year’s extra innings change where a baserunner is placed on second with no outs to begin a half-inning, Stassi understood the reasoning behind the change, but prefers the more traditional approach to free baseball.
“I personally like traditional extra innings and I think it should continue to be played that way,” he said.
Yuba City beast
Stassi jumped to the big leagues straight from high school where he was a four-year varsity star for the Honkers, accumulating a career .514 batting average, 170 hits, 40 home runs, 43 doubles, 10 triples, 162 RBIs and scored 176 times in 121 games, according to MaxPreps.com.