Less than a few days after the signing of Carlos Estévez to shore up a piece of the Los Angeles Angels bullpen, manager Phil Nevin and the team like where they’re at but continue to monitor the free agent market for backend arms.
The Angels have around $21 million allocated to their bullpen between Aaron Loup, Ryan Tepera, and Estévez, who signed on with a two-year deal worth $12.5 million. This is a steep drop-off from what it could have been if general manager Perry Minasian had not traded Raisel Iglesias to the Atlanta Braves at the 2022 trade deadline.
Minasian has been busy before and at the Major League Baseball Winter Meetings in San Diego, Calif. but with money flying around from many franchises throughout MLB, their focus isn’t so much on the big-ticket items, via Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic:
The Angels are looking to upgrade at shortstop and remain in position to spend, but their immediate focus is a back-end reliever.
At the moment, the Angels’ options at short are Andrew Velazquez, Luis Rengifo and David Fletcher. The big four shortstops — Turner, Carlos Correa, Bogaerts and Dansby Swanson — are more likely to join clubs in better position to contend.
Numerous free-agent relievers remain available, but the Angels, like many clubs, are wary of the soaring prices.
The free agent relief pitching market is deep, which benefits the Angels, but it is a position nearly every team in baseball would like to upgrade. Among potential back-end of the bullpen options the Angels could sign include David Robertson, Craig Kimbrel, Taylor Rogers, Andrew Chafin, Michael Fulmer, Chad Green, Adam Ottavino, Brad Boxberger, Corey Knebel, Matt Moore, Brad Hand and Ken Giles.
While the Angels would be able to upgrade their bullpen through free agency, they’d likely need to go through the trade market to upgrade at shortstop. Following the top remaining shortstops, Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts and Dansby Swanson, the top options available are Elvis Andrus and Jose Iglesias, who are not real upgrades over what the team currently has.
Having the willingness to spend what it takes to acquire top-end talent is necessary, but showing restraint when the market gets out of hand is also what extends a team’s window of opportunity when the deal doesn’t match up. Fortunately for the Angels, free agency isn’t anywhere close to over with.
How the Angels bullpen looks ahead of 2023 after signing Carlos Estévez
The Angels don’t have a clear-cut closer at the end of their bullpen, and perhaps that’s how Minasian & Nevin prefer it. But with Loup, Tepera, and Jimmy Herget all having levels of success at different points in their careers, they could be options.
Estévez joins that group after having the best season of his six years in MLB. Appearing in 62 games for Colorado last season, he tallied a 4-4 record with a 3.47 ERA across 57 innings pitched and he held opposing hitters to a .211 batting average.
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