In a season where the Los Angeles Angels hoped to end their six-year playoff drought and a five-year streak finishing below .500, failing both goals makes it difficult to find bright spots. However, Raisel Iglesias made that a little bit easier.
The Angels acquired Iglesias in the winter of 2020, finally hoping to fill a multi-year void at the closer spot. Iglesias was an expiring deal coming off of the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and his career-worst 2019 season. It didn’t take much to get him, but his performance made him the best acquisition of the offseason.
Iglesias was not only the Angels best reliever, he was one of the best relievers in baseball, even finishing 11th place in American League Cy Young voting. As we look back at 2021 and ahead to 2022, it’s hard to talk about what the Angels were and can be without mentioning Iglesias.
Days 10-15 of our player review series can be seen below. To find days 1-9, look at Day 10.
Day 10: Griffin Canning, Dylan Bundy, Justin Upton
Day 11: Alex Cobb, Max Stassi, Mike Mayers
Day 12: Brandon Marsh and Jo Adell
Day 13: Patrick Sandoval and Jose Suarez
Day 14: Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon
Day 15: Jared Walsh and David Fletcher
As mentioned above, Iglesias was one of the best relievers in all of baseball in 2021. He was one of the hottest commodities at the trade deadline, but the Angels opted to keep him in a signal that they were committed to winning in the future.
Even in a lost season for the Angels, Iglesias put together perhaps his best year as a pro. He appeared in 65 games, collecting 34 saves over 70.0 innings of work. His 2.57 ERA and 0.929 WHIP were just the surface of his dominance this season.
He struck out 103 batters compared to just 12 walks, a 13.2 K-per-nine ratio and an absurd 8.58 K-to-BB ratio. Per Baseball Savant, his advanced numbers were on another level. Here are just some of his absurd rankings in 2021:
– 92nd percentile in average exit velocity against
– 85th percentile in hard hit%
– 97th percentile in xwOBA against
– 97th percentile in xERA
– 98th percentile in K%
– 96th percentile in BB%
– 99th percentile in whiff%
– 98th percentile in chase rate
The Angels simply haven’t had this type of production out of a closer in a very long time. And while the rest of the Angels bullpen struggled, Iglesias shined. There’s a legitimate argument to be made that he was the best player on the Angels this season outside of AL MVP Shohei Ohtani.
Iglesias was offered — and he subsequently rejected — the Angels one-year, $18.4 million qualifying offer. This means if he plays for the Angels in 2022, it will likely be on a multi-year contract.
If he goes elsewhere, the Angels will be awarded a compensatory draft pick from the team that signs him, similar to the Angels owing the New York Mets a second round pick after signing Noah Syndergaard.
Angels general manager Perry Minasian has said that he’s confident in the team’s ability to re-sign Iglesias, but it’s hard to tell exactly what offers are out there for him. Pundits have predicted that his contract will be similar to that of Liam Hendriks in 2020, when he received three years, $54 million from the Chicago White Sox.