Last week, the Los Angeles Angels benched flashy shortstop Jose Iglesias. Jack Mayfield, who had spent much of the year at third base in place of the injured Anthony Rendon, became the every day starter at the position. They doubled down on this Friday night by calling up utilityman Luis Rengifo and releasing Iglesias to free agency.
The move came as a surprise. Iglesias has been solid this season and is an impending free agent, but also served as a positive clubhouse presence, notably forming a friendship with Shohei Ohtani. However, a .670 OPS, a career-high in errors, and generally negative defensive metrics made Joe Maddon feel as though it was time to part ways.
He went into greater detail on this decision and what it may mean for the Angels moving forward, according to Jeff Fletcher of The O.C. Register:
“We just felt it was wise to get some other people opportunity right now,” Maddon said. “We also felt that by letting him go that he’s going to have opportunity. He’s not the kind of guy you want to keep on the bench for a long period of time and have him report every day. He’s just not used to that. That’s not who he is. And so by doing it the way we did it, he has a chance to advance his career also.”
Iglesias being an impending free agent could have been part of the reason for a release. Clearly, the Angels did not envision him being a part of the team’s long-term future. Mayfield — on the other hand — has four more years of team control remaining, and has proven himself to be a potentially reliable utilityman next season.
It’s unlikely that Mayfield becomes the every day shortstop going into next season, when the Angels figure to have playoff aspirations. However, an impressive final month could change the minds of the decision-makers in the front office.
This winter figures to come with a robust shortstop market. Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Javier Baez, Marcus Semien, and Trevor Story are all set to be free agents. The Angels could try to snag one of those players, putting together what could be an All-Star offense.
They could also stick with someone like Mayfield — or another cheap option — and pool their resources towards one of the starting pitchers on the market. They have already been tied to L.A. Dodgers star Max Scherzer.
Maddon saving Raisel Iglesias’ future
Angels closer Raisel Iglesias is well-known for his multi-inning saves. However, Maddon announced that he would no longer use him before the ninth inning. Iglesias is an impending free agent, and Maddon wants to preserve his health, regardless of whether he stays with the Angels or not.
Given his production as a closer this season, it would be wise for the Angels to extend him. They haven’t had a player of his quality to finish games in several years.